A memoir that situates personal remembrance within the tumult of the Cuban revolution.
Debut author Tischler’s father, Adolfo Sanchez, split his young adulthood between the United States and his native Cuba. After inheriting some property in Cuba that included the ruins of an old sugar mill, he moved back to the island nation around 1930, during economically bright times that Cubans commonly referred to as the “dance of the millions.” Filled with hopeful anticipation, he borrowed heavily to expand his property and convert it into a cattle ranch, and then the financial devastation of the Depression hit. However, Adolfo’s ranch, after some trying years, eventually became a steady success; the author grew up in comparative prosperity, which allowed her to receive some of her education in the United States. However, much tougher times were just around the bend, and Tischler vividly remembers hearing news on the radio that Cuban president Fulgencio Batista “had simply taken over the government.” The author later met her husband in Florida, and for a time they lived in Cuba together when he found work in the town of Nicaro. But the political environment continued to deteriorate, and her brother, Oli, tragically lost his life as a consequence. Angela’s husband lost his job because of his lack of sympathy for the Cuban revolution (the letter of termination is extraordinary), and they finally relocated to the United States. The author’s prose is philosophically charged and often wryly funny, filled with sociological aperçus: “Americans have an undying faith that their government will get them out of whatever mess they get into,” she writes. “We Cubans don’t expect anything from our government and least of all, in our present situation.” Also, she manages to convey a heartbreaking tale of personal loss and political folly without mordant sentimentality or grim fatalism. Although not every reader will be enthralled by the detailed accounts of her family genealogy, the story aspires to more general history and universal relevance. As such, she deftly braids together her autobiography and the story of the life of Cuba, and her love of her homeland, despite its decline, is endearing. Finally, she provides a welcome alternative to other accounts of the Cuban revolution by American journalists and academics.
An affecting, informative amalgam of personal and national history.