Huergo writes with heart even though her account lacks consistency.



The enduring impact of the Cuban revolution on the lives of ordinary citizens is the subject of Huergo’s disjointed debut novel.

On the 50th anniversary of the Moncada Barracks raid, Fidel Pérez, lovesick and inebriated, ventures onto his brother’s balcony after a night of drinking. Rafael hears his brother’s cries as the railing gives way and rushes to save him, but both he and his brother plummet to their deaths. As their battered bodies lay on the ground below, the neighbors gather, and Fidel’s former lover’s cries are heard above the throng as she laments that Fidel and his brother have fallen. The shouts are taken up by the crowd, and as rolling blackouts hit Havana, its citizens misconstrue the meaning of the words and sweep toward the town’s center. The author focuses on four individuals among the crowd that converges at La Plaza de la Revolución: Saturnina, an elderly woman who lives on the streets and still grieves the loss of her son, Tomás, a Fidelista who once provided food and shelter to anti-Batista dissenters and who she believes will live again; professor Pedro Valle, arrested and tortured by the Castro regime 10 years ago and now flooded with remorse as he “converses” with his friend and colleague, Mario, who “was disappeared” as a subversive; Justicio, who witnessed the Pérez brothers' deaths and ekes out a living with his bicycle cab; and young Camilo, a university student who knows no other life than the one under Castro’s fist. His mother abandoned the family when she fled Cuba in 1980, and now he finds himself becoming a spokesperson for a new hope. Huergo’s writing is expressive, and her opening premise is creative, but what follows is often difficult to understand. Her frequent use of Spanish dialogue and her didactic approach to storytelling often interrupt the flow, and the reader must reread passages several times in an often fruitless attempt to grasp meaning and differentiate between past and present.

Huergo writes with heart even though her account lacks consistency.

Pub Date: April 2, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-60953-095-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Unbridled Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 6, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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