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Reviewed by Essien Asian for Readers' Favorite
Mari was only a child when Fidel Castro and his guerrillas took control of Cuba from the Batista regime. She did not believe that her family could have any reason to fear for their lives until the rumors started filtering in about summary executions and the hunt for members of Batista's government, and their neighbors turned on them with envious eyes. They were forced to flee to the relative safety of America and start their lives from scratch. Song for Olivia by Maruchi Mendez is the chronicle of a family's forced exodus from their homeland and the effect it had on them over the years as seen through the innocent eyes of a young girl.
Maruchi Mendez delivers her take on Castro’s violent takeover of the island of Cuba from a unique point of view. Her account is relatively detailed and filled with the innocence and expectations of a girl eager to become a woman. You can feel the emotion envelope you as you read about the fate of those whose only fault was being successful while surrounded by poverty. Spare a thought for the emotional anguish Mari’s father endured while yearning for his homeland, and her mother’s determination to keep her family’s inheritance from thieving usurpers. Tony and Olivia’s ordeal as a young couple was repeated in the homes of many Cuban exiles spread across the United States. Although a fictional account, Mendez’s emotional and impressive way of telling her story in Song for Olivia puts a human face on an incident whose ripple in history continues to affect the present.