An award-winning poet’s memoir of growing up in Miami as the gay son of Cuban immigrants.
Revolution changed Cuba forever. Yet Blanco’s (For All of Us, One Today: An Inaugural Poet's Journey, 2013, etc.) family seemed determined to hang on to whatever they could of the lives they knew before Fidel Castro’s takeover. Once the family settled in Miami, his parents went to work at an uncle’s bodega and ate only Cuban food. Meanwhile, Blanco dreamed of becoming like his gringo school friends who ate “Pop-Tarts, Ritz Crackers and Cool Whip.” He tried to introduce his family to American customs like Thanksgiving, only to see those traditions transformed into something with a distinctly Cuban twist. At the same time, Blanco was still fascinated by the country his family had left behind. Not only did they re-create it through the food they sold and ate, but also through the garden that his grandfather planted with the loquat, papaya and avocado trees that reminded them of their “lost [Cuban] paradise.” Born in Madrid just before his family left Spain for the United States, the author soon realized that he existed in a world that was neither completely Cuban nor American: He was “a little from everywhere.” The homosexual desires that surfaced during adolescence and which he kept hidden from his family only added to his feelings of separateness. As a cure for his love of “unmanly” things like his paint-by-number sets and his cousin’s Easy-Bake Oven, Blanco’s homophobic grandmother sent him to work at the bodega. In this space of working-class machismo, Blanco came into contact with a closeted Cuban homosexual who told him about the forbidden affair he had with another man before fleeing to the U.S. Their friendship started the author on the journey toward accepting not only his own gayness, but also the “ghosts of Cuba” that haunted him.
A warm, emotionally intimate memoir.