If you've been following this blog for a while, you'll know that I have a deep connection with Cuba. I'm part Cuban on my Mom's side, and two years ago, my second cousin and I went to Cuba and actually found family that we didn't even know existed (you can read about it here). Our grandma's hadn't been to Cuba in over seventy years, and lost touch with all their family there after the Revolution, so discovering aunts and cousins was unexpected and brought so much joy to our families. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to go back and visit, but we do all stay in touch through WhatsApp which is great.
With that in mind, I was thrilled to be a part of the blog tour for Find Me in Havana by Serena Burdick. I had read another historical fiction by this author, The Girls with No Names (review here), and I really enjoy her style and how she makes whatever time period she's writing about come alive. My interest was piqued even further when I found out it was about a real person. So, big thanks to Park Row for having me!
|Pub Date: 1-12-21|
Adult - Historical Fiction
In Cuba, 1936, many families are struggling with the fallout of the Cuban Revolution. Estelita Rodriguez and her family are no exception. When Estelita is discovered while singing in a Havana nightclub, she believes all her luck is about to change. Suddenly, at fifteen Estelita is singing on stages such as the Copacabana, and rubbing elbows with the handsomely famous Mexican singer, Chu Chu Martinez. The pair enter into a whirlwind romance, and soon Estelita finds herself pregnant. When Chu Chu forbids her from ever singing again, Estelita flees with their daughter, Nina, to live out her dreams in Hollywood.
In Big Sur, 1966, Nina Rodriguez is reeling from the sudden and mysterious death of her mother, Estelita. She grew up in awe of her mother's talents and charisma, even if her attentions were usually focused on anything but Nina. Even as a child, Nina knew that she was never the number one priority in her mother's life, and she knew her mother experienced hardships that she could never fully understand. As Nina finds herself slipping into the same destructive patterns that plagued her mother, she looks to her mother's past to learn and make a better future for herself.
I knew nothing of Estelita Rodriguez or her life before going into this book, but I still enjoyed it all the same. Both Estelita and Nina lead such hard lives and it was heartbreaking to see everything they had to endure. There were some aspects of their lives that seemed so glamorous, but it was as if the more fame Estelita achieved, the more she and her family suffered. This is told in a series of letters both by Nina and Estelita and while I did find it slightly hard to fully connect to, it did make the story feel more personal. However, the family dynamics are what shines in this. For much of the story, mother and daughter felt very at odds with one another, and you learn through the letters that that wasn't necessarily the case. This is an engaging historical fiction about real characters, their hardships, and the kind of understanding and connection that can only come from a relationship between a mother and a daughter.
More info about the book can be found below!