CUBAN PASSAGE by Norman Lewis


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A crisp, old-fashioned coming-of-age adventure set in late-1950s Cuba--where British teenager Dick Frazer (a longtime problem child) will weather a family crisis, take action against a voodoo-villain, and end up in the midst of rebel-guerrilla action. Dick's father is off on an extended business trip; and, to Dick's slowly growing horror, his beauteous mum seems to be falling beneath the spell of rich, shady Juan Stilson, a power-broker who may also be a cult leader specializing in hypnosis and drugs. What can Dick do to free his mother from Stilson's hypnotic/narcotic/sexual thrall? Well, first he builds up his courage--by running off to hang out around the harbor with ""layabout"" Jerry Carmichael. Dick helps Jerry to save a wounded rebel/fugitive, and is soon hatching a murder plan: he'll shoot Stilson--in a fake accident--during an upcoming hunting expedition. But when the time comes, Stilson sees what Dick is up to and hypnotizes him, attempting to exorcise Dick's lethal urges--a hypnocharade which goes awry, ending up with Stilson shot. And though Dick is truly innocent (Stilson dies, in fact, of a rebel-strangulation that follows the shooting), he is arrested and jailed. While Dick and a fellow-prisoner escape, Jerry is using his rebel contacts to try to rescue him--which leads to brisk action, happy endings (Dick's parents reconcile), and one ironic, sad final twist. True, the nature of Dick's transformation here remains a little blurry. But the atmosphere and dialogue are splendid, the historical background is wisely underplayed, and this is solid, wry action-entertainment--with obvious, strong YA appeal.

Pub Date: May 17th, 1982
Publisher: Pantheon