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Reviewed by Essien Asian for Readers' Favorite
Set in 1950s Cuba where Batista rules with an iron fist and dissenters disappear in broad daylight, the mafia and their nefarious cohorts have joined hands with the junta to suck the country dry and the future looks bleak for ordinary Cubans. For the Enriquez family, the political happenings across the island have little bearing on their daily lives as papa and mama do their best to keep their family together in these dangerous times. All that changes when rebels, led by Fidel Castro, mount a final offensive to push out the Batista regime. Samuel and Cristian Enriquez secretly join the struggle, with dreams of a free and democratic Cuba in their hearts. This singular action sets in motion a cataclysmic chain of events for this patriotic Cuban family in Lucy Girolamo's To the Pastures.
Lucy Girolamo tells a touching story surrounding the turbulent years in Cuba’s history and the effect it had on a close-knit family. This provides an unusual first-hand view of the happenings in that island nation with such a degree of accuracy that readers will appreciate the extensive research invested in the story. Her characters are well-fleshed out and their interactions are simple enough to follow. What makes this stand out for me is the way Girolamo inserts historical turning points in Cuban history into her story at critical junctions in the lives of the Enriquez family. Cristian and Samuel may be the principal characters in this story but my heart goes out to Papa Enriquez; I cannot imagine what he went through as Castro's policies take their toll on his business and family. Girolamo delivers a masterpiece in To the Pastures.