Thursday, December 8, 2016

Book Review : The Mortifications

This was my first Cuban-American novel. I had also never read anything in the political genre. It was a rather interesting story. 

The story starts out with Soledad and her two twin children who immigrate to America in 1980 during the Mariel boat lift which was a mass emigration of Cubans who traveled from Cuba's Mariel Harbor to the United States. They ultimately were looking to gain asylum by taking refuge on the grounds of the Peruvian embassy; the Cuban Government announced that anyone who wanted to leave could do so. The ensuing mass migration was organized by Cuban-Americans with the agreement of Cuban President Fidel Castro. 

At this time Jimmy Carter was President. This caused countless political problems. Apparently, it had been discovered that some the refugees had been released from Cuban jails and mental health facilities. The Mariel boatlift was ended by agreement between two governments in late 1980 after as many as 125,000 Cubans reached Florida.

Sadly I did feel a bit bored during the story. Ultimately,  I was expecting an immigrant experience story, and it doesn't read like that, but more of a dysfunctional family saga. Many layers but lots of drama. Maybe even too much drama. 

Overall a decent read.

Disclaimer I received this book for review. Thanks to Crown Publishing and NetGalley as well as Blogging for books. All thoughts are my own. 

Goodreads Description: 
Derek Palacio’s stunning, mythic novel marks the arrival of a fresh voice and a new chapter in the history of 21st century Cuban-American literature.

In 1980, a rural Cuban family is torn apart during the Mariel Boatlift. Uxbal Encarnación—father, husband, political insurgent—refuses to leave behind the revolutionary ideals and lush tomato farms of his sun-soaked homeland. His wife Soledad takes young Isabel and Ulises hostage and flees with them to America, leaving behind Uxbal for the promise of a better life. But instead of settling with fellow Cuban immigrants in Miami’s familiar heat, Soledad pushes further north into the stark, wintry landscape of Hartford, Connecticut. There, in the long shadow of their estranged patriarch, now just a distant memory, the exiled mother and her children begin a process of growth and transformation.

Each struggles and flourishes in their own way: Isabel, spiritually hungry and desperate for higher purpose, finds herself tethered to death and the dying in uncanny ways. Ulises is bookish and awkwardly tall, like his father, whose memory haunts and shapes the boy's thoughts and desires. Presiding over them both is Soledad. Once consumed by her love for her husband, she begins a tempestuous new relationship with a Dutch tobacco farmer. But just as the Encarnacións begin to cultivate their strange new way of life, Cuba calls them back. Uxbal is alive, and waiting.

Breathtaking, soulful, and profound, The Mortifications is an intoxicating family saga and a timely, urgent expression of longing for one's true homeland.

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