“Mami, Dadi, I’m dead! I’m dead!” yells Jesus “Gato” Cárdenas, running across the street to George and Alexia Demas. Then Gato shows them the letter from Social Security: “We are sorry to learn that JESUS CÁRDENDAS . . . died July 30, 2002.”
Such begins the entanglement of George and Alexia Demas and Jesus Cárdenas, sometimes-homeless, always living by his wits, Cuban immigrant. George finds out why Gato was pronounced dead and gets his check reinstated.
The Demases let him stay in their home until he receives his back pay; George becomes Gato’s payee, receiving his monthly check, paying his rent, trying to get his ID.
Gato claims to be a Vietnam veteran and US citizen, yet both assertions prove difficult to verify. Is he a refugee of the Castro regime, or one of Castro’s undesirables released to the US during an early ’80s boatlift?
In their search for truth, the Demases discover how entwined their lives are with this mysterious, down-but-not-out character.
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We are proud to announce that Citizen Cárdenas: A Novel by Steve Cole is a B.R.A.G.Medallion Honoree. This tells readers that this book is well worth their time and money!
What Does Homeless Really Mean? Engagingly written in the words of the characters surrounding Citizen Cardenas, Steve Cole’s book draws you into the world of the homeless—a world that may surprise you. It will undoubtedly entertain you. It will certainly educate you. Citizen Cardenas takes even the most casual reader on a riotous journey of one Gato Cardenas, whose very identity is so complex it brings to mind the act of peeling an onion, tears and all. Because I am also a writer and a longtime friend of the author and his wife, I thought I knew so much about this character of his that it would make the book a foregone conclusion. My assumption could not have been farther from the truth. Every short chapter brought another cliffhanger, adding up to one page-turner after another. You will find no spoilers in this review—only a recommendation to read Citizen Cardenas for a great read and an education in the bargain.