Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy by Carlos Eire
A childhood in a privileged household in 1950s Havana is joyous and cruel, like any other — but with exotic differences. Lizards roam the house and grounds. Fights aren't waged with snowballs but with breadfruit. The narrator's father, a judge, is certain that in a past life he was Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette. In a home crammed with portraits of Jesus that speak to him in dreams and nightmares, young Carlos Eire searches for secret proofs of the existence of God, determined to best St. Thomas Aquinas by coming up with more than five. Then, in January 1959, the world changes: President Batista is suddenly gone, a cigar-smoking guerrilla — Fidel Castro — has taken his place, and Christmas is canceled. The echo of firing squads is everywhere. And, one by one, the author's schoolmates begin to disappear — spirited away to the United States. Carlos will end up there himself, alone, never to see his father again. The journey will test his soul. Narrated with the urgency of a confession, Waiting for Snow in Havana is both an ode to a paradise lost and an exorcism. More than that, it captures the terrible beauty of those times in our lives when we are certain we have died — and then are somehow, miraculously, reborn.