This book was both brilliant and boring. There were times when I couldn’t stop reading and times when all I wanted to do was abandon the book for another. Mostly I’m glad I finished it and hopefully it is one of those books that in a few weeks/months I’ll appreciate having read it.
I was excited about seeing Eire speak at the upcoming Boston Book Festival and I still plan on going to the panel, but I’m not as excited as I was. This isn’t the first book I’ve read that let me down. Leaving it on my list for so long without reading it, removed a lot of the luster and excitement from when I first found it and wanted to read it. Either way I can’t get my copy signed as Tom accidentally spilled water all over it and I had to check out a new version from the library to finish reading it (the main impetus in actually finishing it).
Waiting for Snow in Havana is the story of Carlos Eire’s exile from Cuba. As one of the 14,000 children sent from Cuba during Operation Peter Pan, Eire tells an interesting story jumping between his childhood growing up in Cuba and his time in the US. He talks of the wealth, privilege and prestige his family held in Cuba and the poverty, racism and language barriers he faced upon arrival to the US. His discussion of the revolution from a childlike perspective was interesting and informative (assuming what he wrote is factually correct, on top of his own impressions). I briefly studied the Cuban Missile Crisis in undergrad and read Before Night Falls, by Reinaldo Arenas, sometime last year which focuses primarily on persecution of LGBT individuals.
What I enjoyed about the book was the childlike descriptions and fascination with the things you only note as a child, the lizards, the firecrackers, the car surfing. Although I enjoyed the various stories running into each other, I struggled most with the hopping back and forth between the current, the recent past, and the far past. The highlight of the book was the his father, the judge. From his past lives as various historical figures, to his seeming disregard for safety, his stories of his father provided humor and affection, and showed that love comes in all types of packages.
Recommendation: Pass, unless you have a true passion/interest in exiles, expatriates, or Cuba.