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Learning to Die in Miami: Confessions of a Refugee Boy...

Title : Learning to Die in Miami: Confessions of a Refugee Boy
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781439181904
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 320 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Learning to Die in Miami: Confessions of a Refugee Boy Reviews

  • WarpDrive
    2018-09-13 12:39

    It was sort of an OK book, but it just did not click. Seemed to me pretty artificial, and pretty underwhelming too. Stopped reading it half-way.

  • Ann
    2018-09-03 09:57

    A continuation of Carlos Wire's story started in "Waiting for Snow in Havana" about his leaving Cuba as one of the 14,000 Pedro Pan children airlifted to the USA.Although this was fairly engaging and I do feel great sympathy/empathy for what he endured as a child separated from his parents, in a land where everythinbg was different and he must transform himself,from "Carlos" into "Chuck", I still had a lot of frustration with the book. First of all, I felt that he was capitalizing on the success of the "Snow" book. I suspect his agent probably encouraged him to write more on the subject.Second, he constantly jumped around with thoughts, time frames, incidents and his interest in religion. It made me dizzy at times, trying to keep up with the whats, whens, wheres and whos!!Third, he refers back to the first book without much explanation -- so if you nhave not read "Snow", you are in trouble. (For example he immediately begins to talk about Louis XV1 and Marie Antoinette. If you have not read "Snow", you don't realize that he is talking about his parents.) Fourth, he omits so many issues which were at the neart of his experience. What was it like being reunited with his mother after all those years and all that wishing and hoping? Finally -- so much of the book, Like "Snow" is stream of consciousness pain. I hope he is working on this in therapy -- or will consider getting therapy if he is not yet doing so.

  • Olivia
    2018-09-24 08:52

    In an earlier update I promised I would review this book so here I am. I really hate this book but I will do my best to keep my review short as possible.I'm an absolute sucker for immigrant/refugee stories. I always enjoy seeing people who've come from less than desirable situations rise to the top and pursue the American dream. As this book was also an autobiography I thought I would give it a try.Background: Carlos Eire and his brother, Tony were airlifted out of Cuba during Operation Peter Pan in which thousands of Cuban children were relocated to the US. The book chronicles Carlos' first days in the US all the way up until he is married with children.Writing an honest autobiography takes courage. Eire does not hold back on his feelings/actions both good and bad. For that I applaud him. However, I still think he is a jerk. Within the first few days in the US he already exhibits very selfish behavior. Eire immediately tries to erase (in his words "kill") his Cuban identity. He changes his name to Charles and does everything he can to forget about Cuba - even refusing to write to his parents who are frantically worrying if their children are alive and well. Despite his parents worry he disregards them and even insults them (and no he was not slightly annoyed with them as we all can be with out parents, he was beyond cruel and in my opinion extremely vile to people who did nothing but love him unconditionally). He just cuts them out off his life for good with no explanation and has no guilt in doing so.Carlos now Charles becomes increasingly materialistic. All he can think about is material objects and how much we Americans owe him for coming to the US (you're the one we took in pal, not the other way around so show some gratitude ). I was also annoyed at just how many times he was willing to throw people under the bus to get what he wanted. In several parts of the book he resorts to bullying behavior as a means to rise to the top. This showed me that he lacked any kind of moral compass.In addition to Charles' bullying behavior his use of foul language in both English and Spanish becomes increasingly common. While I can put up with foul language if it is essential to the character or story (you'd be surprised at just how a swear word here and there really makes a difference to a character's identity), I'd prefer that the author only do it when necessary. Eire just says the words for the sake of shock value. While many of the curse words are in Spanish (a language I am proficient in) they are still just as bad, if not worse than the English words (this would be somewhat hard to explain since many of the words used do not have a direct English equivalent). This in no way advanced the plot and furthered my dislike of Charles.This next part might not bother everyone but it did bother me: Eire's disparaging remarks toward religion. As a Catholic I recognize that not everyone has the same beliefs as me and I respect that. However, I believe that whatever beliefs a person has (or in some cases doesn't have) need to be respected. The way Eire just disrespected religion time and time again really added nothing to the story and probably offended some readers such as myself (ironically I discovered that he is a well respected professor of religion at several universities). Eire like many immigrants does encounter several headships such as living in less than ideal foster homes and struggling to make ends meet (if I remember correctly he may have even qualified for welfare benefits). And for those reasons my heart goes out to him. But I do not think that his hardships justify his immoral behavior.So if you want to read this book then be my guest but just know that the author is an unsympathetic jerk with no sense of right and wrong.

  • Caroline
    2018-09-15 07:46

    I honestly feel like I could have Carlos Eire sit in a McDonalds for a few hours, write an essay about his experience, and I would end up with a piece of writing that I would find totally beautiful and engrossing and profound. I love his style and prose that much.Learning to Die in Miami picks roughly where Waiting for Snow in Havana leaves off: Carlos and his brother Tony's arrival in Florida after the Pedro Pan airlifts. The style is almost identical to the one Eire used in his first book, which means basically that I savored each and every page.Though I gave the first book a 5-star rating, this one gets a 4-star, only due to the fact that it didn't have the advantage of being a wonderful unexpected surprise as I read; this time I knew what I was getting. Don't get me wrong - this is in no way a bad thing. Rather, I appreciate the consistency, but it did mean that it didn't have the same twinkly newness and awesomeness that the first book did. An additional difference between the two is simply the subject matter. I felt that in some ways, Waiting for Snow was a love letter to his wonderful childhood in Cuba. While It contained some dark and difficult memories, it also was full of laughter and sun and family. In general, there was a lot less of all of those things in Learning to Die. And, though I did miss the occasional moments of levity in this book, I get why they weren't there. Learning to die and be reborn in a new country, trying to make a new life and home for yourself - it's not really a lighthearted process.One thing I did very much enjoy about this book was learning more about Eire's relationship with his religion. It was something I wondered about often as I was reading Waiting for Snow and I felt like many of my questions were answered. Eire's religion in an integral part of his story, and it weaves its way into most of the book.I will end on kind of a personal side note, but one that definitely added to my enjoyment of the book. I was fortunate enough to get to hear Eire speak about this book when it came out. He told us that he was inspired to write the book while in Prague, where he had seen advertisements for the Museum of Communism. Well, I happened to read Waiting for Snow while in Prague, and while I was there, I went to the Museum of Communism. Kind of random and of no real consequence, but I got a kick out of it.

  • Magna Diaz
    2018-09-05 07:51

    A book that brings us into the life of a child immigrant brought to America in 1961 for a better life and to await for his parents to leave Cuba. Carlos Eire the author, recounts how after Castro took over Cuba things began to change for the worse everyone. The United States brought 1400 Cuban children to US soil. The plan was to place these children in foster homes as they awaited for their parents to leave Cuba and reclaim them. However, Fidel Castro closed down all exits from Cuba. Life for Carlos and his older brother took a turn for the worse. Many years would pass before his parents would find a way out and during that time Carlos would be go through many changes as he search for his identity. Told with humor, this biography give the reader a view into the life of an immigrant child and all the horrors that he and his brother went through. They survived with many scars. A must read!

  • Lila Vogt
    2018-08-27 10:56

    I have read Waiting for Snow in Havana,so was familiar with Eire's work. This memoir is incredible. I had no idea that over 14,000 children were airlifted out of Cuba in the early 1960's, some as young as 3. Parents were desperate to get their children to a safe haven, hoping to be able to follow them. Many were never reunited, such as Carlos' father, who died in Cuba before being able to secure passage to leave. After 3 years, his mother was finally able to escape Fidel's Rule. He refers to post-Castro Cuba as Castrolandia.Many were farmed out to orphanages, foster homes and far-flung relatives. It is a riveting tale and as familiar as I thought I was with the history of Cuba, this was a real eye opener. The narrative is compelling, but Eire's use of language is lyrical. I highly recommend this read!

  • Maria Puig
    2018-08-30 12:47

    The flash backs, forward, sideways, ups and downs drive me a little nuts toward the end. For someone who gave us so much detail of his 9 months living with Ricky and Lucy in Miami he sure omitted a lot toward the end of the book. Because there are no 4.5 stars I'll give him 5. His first one is his masterpiece and even though this one fell short half a star I still loved it. Swoosh!!

  • Nicole
    2018-09-24 08:48

    Fantastic memoir. Loved every page. Well written an understatement. Flows effortlessly back and forth through time - tying everything in- in a way that transcends time. Amazing what children, people, endure, and how they can continue on, overcome, and even shine. I loved this book.

  • Deedie Gustavson
    2018-08-31 15:59

    These two memoirs (also read "Waiting for Snow in Havana") were excellent. I had never heard of Operation Pedro Pan, which airlifted 14000 Cuban children to the US in 1962.

  • Jane(Pixie)
    2018-09-17 14:54

    I enjoyed the audio. Wonder what Mr Eire accent is like? Time well spent.

  • Linda
    2018-09-13 14:42

    I just finished the first volume in Carlos Eire's memoirs, Waiting for Snow in Havana. I had to purchase this book right away to learn more about how Eire went for a privileged life in Cuba, to living in an impoverished immigrant neighborhood on the North Side of Chicago, to go on to become a Professor at Yale. I've now finished this second volume of Eire's memoirs. He writes from deep within his soul of the emotional difficulty of adjusting to life in the US and the many challenges he faces on his road to a PhD in History and Religious Studies. He is first placed in a foster home with a decent Jewish family in Miami. However, he and his brother then are placed in the "Palace Ricardo", a very squalid (actually dangerous) foster home in a very poor part of Miami. The small house is populated, in addition to other foster children, by rats and roaches. The foster parents are abusive. Finally, Eire and his brother are transferred to his Uncle Amado and his family in Bloomington, Illinois. Here some semblance of normalcy returns. It takes Eire's mother 3 years to reach the US. He and his brother then move to a very poor neighborhood, Uptown, on the north side of Chicago. There are flash forwards to events later in his life which I hope will be further developed in a future volume of memoirs. The methods Eire uses to survive the adversities of his life as a Cuban refugee show a deep intellect and spirituality. He studies hard, works hard, and manages to succeed where many have fallen into a sense of despair and hopelessness. He writes of his fear of being home along, his panic / anxiety attacks, and his ability to overcome all of this. I loved his description of experiencing his first snowfall, while living in Bloomington. He loves nature and takes solace in the simplest things, such as watching the leaves turn in the fall or spotting his first Cardinal. He expresses his feelings with honesty and eloquence.

  • Paul Schulzetenberg
    2018-09-08 14:48

    Disclaimer: I have a distant personal connection to this author.I really liked the first of Eire's books, Waiting for Snow in Havana, and I eagerly looked forward to this book. This book chronologically picks up right where Snow left off, as Eire lands in Miami after his flight from Cuba. But make no mistake, this is not a rehash of Snow, nor should it be. Snow is a charming book told with dark undertones, Die is a darker book told with charming undertones. This grows organically from the topic being discussed; after all, this is about the loss of innocence, both the natural innocence of childhood and also the innocence of the rosy picture of the United States. Eire experiences both subtle and overt racism, as well as abject poverty, both of which have a tendency to eliminate any innocence you might have remaining.But the thing which makes this book most fascinating is that Eire succeeds, despite adversity. In many ways, Eire is the embodiment of the American Dream: He arrived in America in poverty as an immigrant with poor English skills, but drew on industriousness and natural talent to climb the social ladder. In the end, he makes it all the way up to one of the classic positions of entrenched society, that of professor at Yale. The American Dream as literary device is overused to the point of cliche, and it’s easy to get crotchety and dismissive. But, sometimes, it actually happens, and when written realistically, as here, it is impressive.

  • Catherine
    2018-09-18 16:03

    Carlos Eire’s first memoir, Waiting for Snow in Havana, ends with Carlos (age 11) and his brother Tony (14) departing Havana as part of Operation Pedro Pan in 1962, while their parents stay behind awaiting permission to leave. This coming of age memoir begins as the plane lands in Miami. Carlos and Tony are first placed in separate private homes, both with Jewish families who treat them very well. When their parents’ planned departure from Cuba is put on hold, the refugee authorities send the boys to a chaotic and often brutal group home run by a Cuban couple. After nine months there, a social worker suddenly remembers they were supposed to be sent to Illinois to live with their uncle and his family, which is where they go until the arrival of their mother in 1965. Tony resists learning English and adapting to the US. Carlos tries desperately to fit in and leave everything about Cuba behind. When their mother finally comes to the US, he experiences a great deal of ambivalence about being parented after so many years of near freedom. The book moves seamlessly between their early years in America and the events of the future – this is done really well, as if retelling the early story brings up additional memories of what happened later. Eire’s poetic/hyperbolic/wry writing style conveys perfectly the emotions felt by both boys and how differently siblings can respond to similar situations.

  • Jay
    2018-09-15 08:43

    Learning to Die in Miami: Confessions of a Refugee Boy is primarily about how the author dealt with the pain and joy of leaving the old and embracing the new. This was the plight of Carlos Eire when he was sent by his parents from Cuba to Florida after Castro took power. Unlike many who refused to adapt, thinking they would soon return to Cuba, Eire made every effort to cope with the challenges of his several involuntary moves. Having had many previous childhood experiences in Cuba, Eire relished the opportunity to pursue new dreams through persistence and hard work in the U.S. Although he made some mistakes and dealt with several almost unbearable situations, he prospered in each new environment and eventually became a professor of history and religion at Yale University. Eire’s many moves resulted in the death of the old and the re-creation of the new. Eire accomplished each transformation by re-branding himself with new perspectives and altered names. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, possibly more so than his first about his previous life before moving to Florida. Eire’s rich narrative is an example for all who may consider writing a memoir, for he succeeded in combining past experiences with analysis based on his developing understanding of history, culture, language, religion, and life.

  • Bob
    2018-08-27 16:07

    Following Waiting for Snow in Havana, these very frank confessions add up to a story of religious conversion, told in completely secular terms. The two books have many things to recommend them: boyhood adventures that rank with Huckleberry Finn or Penrod, vivid descriptions of life for the wealthy in pre-Castro Havana, a dysfunctional family narrative, and an enlightening view of the plight of Cuban refugees in the United States. Central to it all is the vision of heaven, the eternal in the present, and the goal of our spiritual longings, but always expressed in the most ordinary terms.He and his aunt are transfixed by the new animals they encounter in Bloomington, Illinois: ¨We watch the squirrels more than we watch television. My aunt Alejandra is especially taken with the way in which they hold the corn cobs, and how methodically they chew them up. ´Look, they eat the same way we do!´ Alejandra is at her best when she contemplates the simplest things. She has a way of making the most mundane things seem marvelous, even miraculous. She won´t know she´s doing it, but she´ll be teaching me a most useful skill, which is also, at the same time, a great way to get high, naturally.¨

  • Raquel
    2018-08-31 13:02

    The memoir of a boy who arrived in America in the early 1960s as part of Cuba's Operation Peter Pan. Over 14,000 Cuban children were airlifted out of the country and placed in American foster homes as their parents lost everything and feared their children would fall into the clutches of Communists. The story of how Carlos and his brother endured this ripping apart of their family is fascinating, but toward the end the book started to fall apart for me. After his mother finally arrived from Cuba to live with her two sons, the narrative started skipping around, leaving out huge chunks of time, and not relating what it was like for Carlos and his brother to be reunited with the woman they hadn't seen for over 3 years. I was disappointed by this. I also found the last few pages to be completely inscrutable. The author is a master with words and images, but at times he waxes on the side of melodrama. Still, I always enjoy books about Cuba and the experience of exile, so overall I enjoyed it.

  • Vivian
    2018-09-21 08:40

    "I imagine my parents are calm, even happy. After all, they've been so desperate to catapult us off the island, for our own protection. It doesn't occur to me that they might be weeping and wailing, gnashing their teeth, and rending their garments." The true story of two Cuban boys. Brothers swept away from their parents with hope for a better life after the revolution. Before the world as we knew changed and became Castrolandia. Eire's is one of many stories, fourteen thousand and sixty-four, to be exact; boys and girls, some as young as three who were airlifted out of Cuba by Operation Pedro Pan (Peter Pan in English). Shipped off to the US by desperate parents.~ heart wrenching but sweet, like Eire's description of his first taste of vending machine Coke since Che Guevara made them disappear. Funny like the story of his intense admiration for Jimmy Stewart, because of his access to Kim Novak's lips. Smart, funny, melancholy and true.

  • Emily
    2018-08-26 14:43

    Although the narrative felt rushed and a bit disjointed in the last two or three chapters, I loved this book! The beginning was hilarious and the audiobook's reader did a good job of interpreting the author's sense of wonder and disbelief about his new world. I too arrived from Cuba at eleven years of age, three years after Carlos made the trip. Fortunately for me, I arrived with both parents and did not share many of the hardships faced by Carlos and Tony. Nonetheless, so much of the story was familiar. I can vouch for its authenticity. The dying and re-birthing in the same body is the story of every immigrant, or at least that of every young immigrant who wishes to succeed. Social studies books did portray all Latin Americans as extremely backward. We experienced prejudice and racism; worked from an early age, and combed the streets for bottles that we could turn in for 2 cents. Definitely worth reading.

  • Susan Hester
    2018-09-15 10:04

    Memoir of one of the 14,000 Cuban children airlifted to the U.S. in the early Castro days (early 1960's). Sacrificed by their parents so that they could be "free," the children were placed into foster homes, orphanages and/or with very distant relatives. This was informative as to the experiences of one boy (who became quite successful) and his brother, but I found the writing terrible, especially toward the middle to end. I don't require books to be linear, but this one jumped around so much so that often I had no idea where we were in time. In a few short pages, I counted about 11 paragraphs starting with "Whoosh...," meaning we were going someplace else and it wasn't explained. Another favorite of his was "Fast Forward." Unfortunately these shifts were confusing because they weren't developed properly.

  • Helen
    2018-09-22 09:46

    This book is a continuation of Waiting for Snow in Havana, the story of Carlos Eire, one of the 14,000 children airlifted out of Cuba in 1958.While this book is non-fiction - it reads like a novel and chronicles the life of a privledged 8 year old trasformed by the experience of loss of everything - parents, culture and priviledge.I didn't know anything (really) about the 14,000 children airlifted out of Cuba to Miami before I read Waiting for Snow - this book picks up where that one left off. This book is not an easy read - but i think it will stay with me for a very very long time. Brilliant description of The Void vs the Presence; of identity formation, of attachment.Excellent.(ecommend reading Waiting for snow first)

  • Mary
    2018-09-20 14:51

    Reading this book so close to reading Waiting For Snow In Havana was a mistake. I went from seeing beautiful Havana through a bright, innocent child's eyes, to seeing Miami and the immigrant experience through the eyes of the common immigrant. The immigrant experience is brutal, frightening and extremely disappointing after expecting to come to a country where the " streets are paved with gold". This voice was difficult after reading the same character's optimistic voice, a voice filled with a full life of sparkle and success ahead of him. My rating does no justice to the book. If I were to reread it 10 years from now, I would probably give it a 4. Sometimes more is not necessarily better.

  • Dorinda
    2018-09-19 08:44

    Continuing the story begun with "...Snow in Havana" Carlos and his brother are sent to the US in the Pedro Pan Airlift of 14,000 unaccompanied children, only a few with any families or contacts in the US ready to receieve them. Carlos and Tony pass from good to bad foster homes to finally join a recently immigated uncle in Illinois and ultimiately back into their mother's care when she finally reaches the US. The the repeated loss/death, as the author lived this life, provides another way to look at the immigarant experience of many around us. It is wirtten in a very personal style so sometimes not as orderly as a story could be....if it were someone else's. I am telling everyone to read it, and Snow in Havana too if they missed that.

  • Faith
    2018-09-03 07:49

    I found this book at the airport and almost didn't take it with me. This read was both humorous, and, at times, horrifying; an emotionally quirky biography focusing on how loss (described as "death") plus faith and determination make us who we are. Carlos Eire's sudden rift from family, as he is airlifted to Miami, with his brother, during the Cuban Crisis, begins a journey from bad to better, from better to worse, and back again. As I read, I kept wondering: Who is the Carlos (Charles, Chuck) in our library, desperately soaking up information for life? This must read, with some strong language that totally fits the situation, won't be on our shelves until December, when it comes back from my son.

  • Alicia
    2018-08-31 13:37

    Becoming a refugee overnight is hard on anyone especially brothers Tony and Carlos Eire. Carlos Eire and his brother were brought over as children from Cuba and airlifted during operation Pedro Pan to Miami, Florida. Carlos' autobiography discusses the difficulty living is a foreign land, living in foster homes, attending different schools and life away from their parents. The author is torn between his Cuban heritage and attempting to "fit in." He faces discrimination. He goes effortlessy back and forth in many chapters from his childhood and adulthood. You feel his pain, tempered with joy and a sense of accomplishment.

  • Gerrie
    2018-09-10 10:00

    The experience of reading this book is definitely enhanced by having started with "Snow." Much of the character development and historical background weren't reiterated here, which was good for a sequel but could be limiting as an intro. While I don't disagree with the reviewers who were distracted by Eire's hopping around, for me this underscored that his emotional evolution was neither consistent nor linear. Eire has survived a most challenging and unorthodox upbringing. His process for identifying his own meaning and value is revealing and I'm grateful that he shares his story with such eloquence and honesty.

  • Gail
    2018-08-28 07:39

    What a BIG disappointment! I so loved Carlos Eire's first book "Waiting for Snow in Havana" that when I saw his current book in the library, I couldn't wait to read it. It started out good but then deteriorated. His first book had such gorgeous imagery and was so beautifully written. Not the case here. Eire's excessive use of metaphors drove me crazy. His constant jumping back and forth from past to future, at first, was interesting and then became irritating. I slogged through 300 pages (there's 304) and skipped the last four. I should have stopped halfway through.The book is badly in need of a good editor.

  • Alicia
    2018-09-02 14:50

    As one of the 14,000+ children airlifted from Cuba without parents in the early 1960s, I really identified and understood this book. 11 yr old Carlos had to "die" and become Charles/Chuck/Charlie to survive the translocation at such a tender age. He had to put his parents in the "vault of oblivion" and learn to survive in a "new world" as we all did. I don't think you could appreciate this book without having read "Waiting for Snow in Havana", his first book, which is an even better story. This book moved around in time quite a bit (Whoosh, he calls it) so it is harder to keep track of the chronology.

  • Karen
    2018-09-05 14:46

    An interesting autobiography written by one of the 14,000 children who were part of the 1962 Pedro Pan airlift-- a part of history that I had never been aware of. The book follows his life as he learns to become an American and we get to look at American life through the eyes of a child from Cuba-- which, honestly, opened my eyes to some of the freedoms we have that I have taken for granted!Eire is a history and religious studies professor at Yale and his writing style reflects that. I enjoyed his wit and theory and will be reading his first book Waiting for Snow in Havana soon.

  • Alison
    2018-09-23 12:45

    Really, for me this was a three and a half star book. I thought it was not as well written as Waiting for Snow in Havana. I kept thinking "Carlos should have had a better editor; this would have been more effective if it had been more concise." Still, it is impossible not to be moved by this story of an eleven-year-old boy who was separated from his family in the aftermath of the Cuban revolution. There are passages that vividly capture the absolute panic of feeling utterly cut-off from anyone who loves you.

  • Cynthia Karl
    2018-08-29 07:41

    This book, a continuation of "Waiting for Snow in Havana", chronicles the author's life after he, along with 14,000 other children, were air lifted from Cuba after Castro's revolution. Eire describes very well the conditions in which he had to live and forthrightly expresses his emotions. Much of the book is heart-rending; that Eire succeeded in life as well as he did is amazing. Unfortunately, his brother air lifted at the same time did not succeed. This is not only an interesting memoir but is thought provoking on several levels.