Learning to Die in Miami

Back in 2002, Carlos Eire won the National Book Award for Waiting for Snow in Havana, his memoir of boyhood in 1950s Cuba. The story ended with Eire on a plane to the United States; he was one of 14,000 unaccompanied refugee children in 1962’s Operation Pedro Pan. His latest book continues his story, beginning with his arrival in Florida.

“Having just died, I shouldn’t be starting my afterlife with a chicken sandwich, no matter what, especially one served up by nuns.” And so begins Eire's memoir, Learning to Die in Miami: Confessions of a Refugee Boy. Eire recounts his journey through the American foster care system, an orphanage, and a belated reunion with his mother, with honesty -- both humorous and heart wrenching. The collision of his Cuban self with his new American identity is both a grim tale of death and a cautious account of rebirth. This fascinating story will make you laugh, weep, and wave your fist in anger. When you finish Eire’s story, don’t be surprised to find yourself poking around through Cuban history books as well, reading about Fulgencio Batista, Fidel Castro and the course of events that led a nation to send their children away.

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