The Mango Chronicle

Non-Fiction - Memoir
228 Pages
Reviewed on 03/23/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

The Mango Chronicle is a work of non-fiction in the memoir, slice-of-life, and cultural writing subgenres. The work is suitable for adult readers and contains some descriptions of violence. Penned by author Ricardo Jose Gonzalez-Rothi, this intriguing true narrative follows a preadolescent boy navigating Castro's revolution and his family's escape to New Jersey via Mexico. Reminiscing about his Cuban childhood, he recounts adventures in the barrio, from near disasters at sea to encounters with neighborhood bullies. Witnessing the Bay of Pigs invasion and enduring the U.S. blockade, the family faces isolation and uncertainty. Arriving in New Jersey, the boy grapples with immigrant life and cultural adjustments but perseveres, eventually becoming a respected professor. Despite challenges, he embarks on a journey to reconnect with his roots, reflecting on the boyhood he left behind and the hope for a better future.

Author Ricardo Jose Gonzalez-Rothi has crafted a poignant journey through one man's experiences of displacement, resilience, and identity, and it was one that I devoured from cover to cover. I was immediately struck by the vivid storytelling and nuanced, emotive narration that captured the complexities of immigrant life and the longing for belonging. The nostalgic reflections on a Cuban upbringing are juxtaposed with the harsh realities of adapting to American society, highlighting the sacrifices and triumphs of the immigrant experience with clarity and sharp focus. The narrative is both heartwarming and thought-provoking, offering insights into cultural identity, perseverance, and the pursuit of one's dreams despite adversity. However, I never felt that I was being preached to or bogged down in ‘lessons.’ The memoir delivers these important points naturally through different encounters, told from a warm and wise perspective of personal growth. Overall, The Mango Chronicle is a compelling memoir that brilliantly portrays its themes of hope, resilience, and the enduring search for home, and I would certainly recommend it to fans of inspiring life stories everywhere.

Luwi Nyakansaila

The Mango Chronicle is a memoir that details Ricardo Jose Gonzalez-Rothi's life in Cuba and his exile to the United States. He talks about his childhood, which was full of adventures. His parents instilled valuable lessons in him, his grandparents were a source of joy, and his uncle, Yayo, added some mischief to his life. During Fidel Castro's reign, his family decided to seek better opportunities and liberty by applying for exit to America. Their journey landed them in Mexico, where they lived in limbo for six months, but once they landed in New Jersey, they had to cope with discrimination against immigrants. Despite the setbacks and oppression, Ricardo went on to become a medical practitioner and had the opportunity to return to his home in Cuba to reminisce and retrace his roots.

Ricardo Jose Gonzalez-Rothi's story, The Mango Chronicle, is a moving tale that highlights the power of family, love, kindness, and determination. Ricardo's life had its ups and downs and incredible challenges, but through it all, he persevered and found success in a new country while still holding onto his roots. The narrative beautifully captures the essence of resilience and the importance of heritage in shaping one's identity and future. Ricardo's journey is not only a personal one but also a reflection of the immigrant experience and the universal themes of love, loss, gratitude, and the pursuit of happiness. The book is well-written and tackles issues like bullying, racism, homophobia, propaganda, and war. Despite these dark topics, the story is filled with many humorous anecdotes and takeaways. I enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to anyone who loves emotionally engaging memoirs.

Frank Mutuma

The Mango Chronicle by Ricardo Jose Gonzalez-Rothi is a detailed account of Ricardo's life. His father was a grocer who had lived through the Great Depression and understood what it meant to go without, which is why he was empathetic to those who failed to pay him. One such person helps him when the family loses their house after their initial relocation to the USA gets canceled. Ricardo's mother was a teacher, along with his uncle Yayo. After the revolution, they were both sent to remote areas to teach people how to read and write. Yayo never married, and most people considered him odd. He was a significant influence on Ricardo who looked up to him.

The Mango Chronicle by Ricardo Jose Gonzalez-Rothi offers not just a glimpse of Cuba before and after the revolution but also the feelings and emotions of someone who went through it all firsthand. I loved how detailed the book was. Ricardo also described everything vividly, which captured my attention from the first page to the last. I found the work to be thought-provoking. It got me thinking of the consequences of the revolution for the Cuban people, both the well-off and the poor. The issue of education in particular and teaching the poor to read caught my eye. This wonderful work is excellently narrated, which adds to the overall appeal for readers. I am looking forward to reading something else by this author.