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Reviewed by Juli Williamson for Readers' Favorite
Island of the White Rose by R. Ira Harris is a period piece set in Cuba during the 1950s and the revolution. Father Pedro Villanueva is the conflicted hero of this novel, a lack-luster priest that enjoys his family’s well-to-do lifestyle more than he enjoys ministering to his flock. With the political unrest, Father Pedro is asked by a member of his congregation to help their son-in-law escape the prison where he is being held for political reasons. Father Pedro’s brother is killed and this event draws Pedro fully into the revolution. Between the death of his brother, the women he meets in the revolution, and becoming a fully fledged Fidelista, Pedro loses his faith and is looking for salvation.
Island of the White Rose is a thought provoking novel set in the recent past, when the ideals that one professes to espouse and the actions that one engages in are often not the same. The tale is well written, with just enough history to allow a novice to learn something and not so much that I felt like I was taking a class. The book takes a look at what draws people to revolt, the inner mechanics that are so often overlooked by historians and newscasters: some are zealots and some just want to assist change in any way that they can. Harris gives us two different views why putting Fidel in power seemed to be the correct thing to do when the time came.