• Lafourche Parish Public Library

Brooke's Pick: Find Me in Havana by Serena Burdick


This sweeping historical-fiction account of the life of the renowned Cuban actress Estelita Rodriguez and her daughter, Nina Lopez, is told through letters from the 1930s to the 1960s.


I am a fan of classic movies, but had never heard of actress Estelita Rodriguez before picking up Serena Burdick's new novel, Find Me in Havana. Estelita was groomed for the stage as a child in her home country of Cuba before moving to the United States as a teenager to star in numerous westerns alongside the likes of Roy Rogers and John Wayne. However, she died a mysterious death at the age of 37, which is the jumping off point of this rich and enveloping novel of the relationship between a mother and her daughter.


Nina knows that her mother did not die by accident, and she is determined to unravel just what happened in their lives to leave her alone in the world without her dear mamá. Told in alternating letters from mother to daughter and daughter to mother, Find Me in Havana takes us back to Estelita's early days in Cuba, where she grew up on a plantation amidst revolution and political strife, and follows her to Hollywood, where she made a name for herself in showbiz. Along the way, she has relationships with numerous questionable men, but the light of her life always remains her daughter Nina. Nina's letters show what it was like to grow up as Estelita's daughter, and highlight important and life-changing moments in their relationship, including a kidnapping attempt by Nina's father, singer Chu Chu Martinez, and harrowing time spent holed up in the family's plantation during the Castro-led Cuban Revolution.


Find Me in Havana is a lush and evocative love story between mother and daughter. As you read this novel, you can't help but get wrapped up in Estelita and Nina's lives and relationship with each other. I held on with bated breath to discover what awaited these two on their life journey together, and found myself truly immersed in this intimate and poignant story. I also learned much about Cuban culture and history through this descriptive novel. Burdick brings Estelita Rodriguez vividly to life in this captivating testament to family and love. Readers will also be pleased to know that Burdick worked with the real Nina Lopez to tell Estelita's story, so this book is full of details and moments that only she would know, making it a true tribute to her mother's legacy.


Availability: Book Rating: **** Stars (I really liked it) Reviewer: Brooke, Public Relations Librarian

 

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DISCOVER MORE WITH NOVELIST APPEALS! Find Me in Havana


GENRE: Biographical Fiction; Epistolary Novels; Multiple Perspectives

THEME: Immigrant Experiences (Moving through the world, over borders and into new and unfamiliar places, has always been challenging. These books explore the experiences of immigrants as they build lives abroad.); Rags to Riches (In these stories, the protagonist moves from poverty to wealth or obscurity to fame over the course of the narrative.)

TONE: Moving

STORYLINE: Sweeping

WRITING STYLE: Compelling

LOCATION: Cuba; United States

SUBJECT: American Dream; Cuban Americans; Death; Fame; Film Actors & Actresses; Identity; Immigrants; Loss; Memories; Mothers & Daughters; Singers; Women Celebrities


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