Seventeen-year-old Sonia, a medical student with dreams of becoming a modernist painter, is caught up in Fidel Castro’s revolution from the moment it captures Havana on New Year’s Eve 1958. While her eccentric mother hatches an increasingly desperate series of plans to flee Cuba, Sonia joins the militia and volunteers as a medic at the Bay of Pigs — where she encounters her mortally wounded high school sweetheart as an enemy fighter, then is arrested and tortured for treating another CIA-trained brigadier. ...
Seventeen-year-old Sonia, a medical student with dreams of becoming a modernist painter, is caught up in Fidel Castro’s revolution from the moment it captures Havana on New Year’s Eve 1958. While her eccentric mother hatches an increasingly desperate series of plans to flee Cuba, Sonia joins the militia and volunteers as a medic at the Bay of Pigs — where she encounters her mortally wounded high school sweetheart as an enemy fighter, then is arrested and tortured for treating another CIA-trained brigadier. Scarred, yet clinging to her revolutionary ideals, she seeks fulfillment in an artists’ collective, only to be further disillusioned by increasing repression under Castro. Finally, she flees to America where she has been a painter and influential arts activist.
This dramatic account of the experiences of a young woman named Sonya during the Cuban revolution is based on the experiences of Lockpez. The narrative traces Sonya as she transforms from an idealist revolutionary studying to be a surgeon to a dissident artist who realizes she must flee her beloved but troubled country. Along the way, she witnesses carnage, is imprisoned and tortured, and is separated from her family. In the midst of the chaos, she also finds love. Haspiel, who has known Lockpez for over 20 years, provides striking illustrations that chart Sonya's shifting emotions and alliances; particularly strong are the surrealist depictions of her dreams and her ordeal in prison. Painter José Villarubia adds tones and shades of red that further intensify the story. At times Lockpez relies too heavily on clunky exposition explaining the history of Cuba and Castro, although some readers may find the context helpful. It is impossible to deny the power of Lockpez's dramatic coming-of-age story, which make the human cost of the revolution all too clear. (Sept.)
Beginning on the eve of Fidel Castro's takeover of Havana in 1959, this graphic novel chronicles episodes in the life of Sonya, a 17-year-old Cuban native. Filled with idealistic dreams, she gives up painting to become a doctor to support the needs of the revolution. After being mistaken for a CIA agent and brutally tortured, Sonya attempts painting once again, only to find censorship and criticism. Working from a true story, Lockpez, a Cuban native and artist herself, crafts realistic characters and complex relationships that drive the story beyond cliché. The people's perspective, as represented by Sonya, is distinctive to the literature, as other graphic novels, such as Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon's Che: A Graphic Biography, focus more on the revolution's leaders. Haspiel's (The Quitter) highly emotive, black-and-white illustrations with red spot color perfectly suit Lockpez's text.Verdict Readers with little knowledge of Cuban history will find this graphic novel to be both informative and suspenseful. Recommended for adult readers and older high school students owing to the violence, torture, and nudity.—Joanna Schmidt, George Fox Univ., Newberg, OR
Inverna Lockpez is a Havana-born artist and curator who left Cuba in the late 1960s. Upon settling in the U.S., she became involved in political art movements including the pioneering feminist exhibition x12 and the anti-Vietnam War “People’s Flag Show.” Her painting and sculpture has exhibited in over 80 venues, including the winning design of a major public art competition in New York City. Under her directorship, the INTAR Gallery was cited as one of the best 15 galleries for seven years running by Art in America. A two-time recipient of grants from The National Endowment for the Arts, Lockpez lives in New York and Florida.
Dean Haspiel is the creator of the Eisner Award-nominated Billy Dogma and the webcomics collective ACT-I-VATE. He has drawn comics for The New York Times, DC/Vertigo, Marvel Comics, Dark Horse, Scholastic and Toon Books among others. He is best known for his collaborations with Harvey Pekar on THE QUITTER and with Jonathan Ames on THE ALCOHOLIC and the HBO series Bored to Death. He lives in Brooklyn.