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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Cuba, in the decades following Castro's rise to power, serves as the setting for Samartin's literary debut. Marked by much of the author's own history (Samartin's family fled Havana in 1961), Broken Paradise is the story of two young cousins: Nora, who leaves Cuba with her parents to settle in California; and Alicia, who stays behind. At age nine, the girls know little of what lies ahead, but on the brink of revolution, Cuba is no longer the sanctuary and home it once was. While Nora, at times confused and lonely, eventually grows to identify with her new life, Alicia is unaware that her future promises nothing but heartbreak.
Wrenched from each other, the girls exchange letters that form the heart of the novel and brilliantly capture the differences in their everyday lives. As the years and then the decades pass, Nora's life blossoms. But Alicia feels nothing but the absence of hope. More than a story of the road not taken, Broken Paradise speaks to the heart of those whose lives have been ripped apart by political turmoil. It's an extraordinary love story in which the Cuban landscape is as much a character as the lives of the two young girls who were born there. (Summer 2007 Selection)