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Finding Manana: A Memoir of a Cuban Exodus (2005)

by Mirta Ojito

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1122184,425 (3.78)3
Finding Mañana is a vibrant, moving memoir of one family's life in Cuba and their wrenching departure. Mirta Ojito was born in Havana and raised there until the unprecedented events of the Mariel boatlift brought her to Miami, one teenager among more than a hundred thousand fellow refugees. Now a reporter for The New York Times, Ojito goes back to reckon with her past and to find the people who set this exodus in motion and brought her to her new home. She tells their stories and hers in superb and poignant detail-chronicling both individual lives and a major historical event. Growing up, Ojito was eager to excel and fit in, but her parents'--and eventually her own--incomplete devotion to the revolution held her back. As a schoolgirl, she yearned to join Castro's Young Pioneers, but as a teenager in the 1970s, when she understood the darker side of the Cuban revolution and learned more about life in el norte from relatives living abroad, she began to wonder if she and her parents would be safer and happier elsewhere. By the time Castro announced that he was opening Cuba's borders for those who wanted to leave, she was ready to go; her parents were more than ready: They had been waiting for this opportunity since they married, twenty years before. Finding Mañana gives us Ojito's own story, with all of the determination and intelligence--and the will to confront darkness--that carried her through the boatlift and made her a prizewinning journalist. Putting her reporting skills to work on the events closest to her heart, she finds the boatlift's key players twenty-five years later, from the exiles who negotiated with Castro to the Vietnam vet on whose boat, Mañana, she finally crossed the treacherous Florida Strait. Finding Mañana is the engrossing and enduring story of a family caught in the midst of the tumultuous politics of the twentieth century.… (more)

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I knew very little about the Mariel boatlift, save snippets of what I heard on the news. My family had come from Cuba right after the revolution -- my brother and I were babies and, of course, unaware of what was happening. When my grandparents came out of Cuba in the mid-60s, I started hearing about how difficult everything was and how many people wanted to get out. This book fills in the gaps in my knowledge about life in Cuba during that time. Mirta Ojita grew up under Castro and was annoyed at her parents for wanting to leave, after all -- her entire life was in Cuba. She and her parents left Cuba on the Mariel boatlift when she was 15, and she later became a journalist. This memoir recounts her trying to find out how it all came about. It is well-written and researched, using her own personal oddyssey as a starting point. ( )
  Marse | Aug 18, 2020 |
A Cuban woman talks about her experience being part of the Mariel boatlift. She breaks up her experience with interviews of others also involved in the boatlift at the same time. While the first 75% was very well written, the last quarter seemed to lack feeling and seemed to be more reporting. I did find out information that was misrepresented to the public at the time, like the intent was for family to leave Cuba. But Castro then released the prisoners and mental patients and forced the boat owners to also take them. That was not the intention. ( )
  LivelyLady | Apr 11, 2013 |
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Epigraph
Those who don't have revolutionary genes, revolutionary blood, a mind or heart which can adapt to the effort and heroism of a revolution aren't wanted here, they aren't needed.
--Fidel Castro, during a May 1 speech in Havana, 1980
We will continue to provide an open heart and open arms to refugees seeking freedom from Communist domination and from economic deprivation, brought about primarily by Fidel Castro and his government.
--President Jimmy Carter, May 5, 1980, Washington, D.C.
Dedication
To Arturo, and to our children: Juan Arturo, Lucas, and Marcelo, my true home
First words
The police came on May 7 when I was about to have lunch: a plain yogurt, sweetened with several spoonfuls of sugar, fried yellow plantains, and an egg-and-ketchup sandwich on half a loaf of Cuban bread.
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Finding Mañana is a vibrant, moving memoir of one family's life in Cuba and their wrenching departure. Mirta Ojito was born in Havana and raised there until the unprecedented events of the Mariel boatlift brought her to Miami, one teenager among more than a hundred thousand fellow refugees. Now a reporter for The New York Times, Ojito goes back to reckon with her past and to find the people who set this exodus in motion and brought her to her new home. She tells their stories and hers in superb and poignant detail-chronicling both individual lives and a major historical event. Growing up, Ojito was eager to excel and fit in, but her parents'--and eventually her own--incomplete devotion to the revolution held her back. As a schoolgirl, she yearned to join Castro's Young Pioneers, but as a teenager in the 1970s, when she understood the darker side of the Cuban revolution and learned more about life in el norte from relatives living abroad, she began to wonder if she and her parents would be safer and happier elsewhere. By the time Castro announced that he was opening Cuba's borders for those who wanted to leave, she was ready to go; her parents were more than ready: They had been waiting for this opportunity since they married, twenty years before. Finding Mañana gives us Ojito's own story, with all of the determination and intelligence--and the will to confront darkness--that carried her through the boatlift and made her a prizewinning journalist. Putting her reporting skills to work on the events closest to her heart, she finds the boatlift's key players twenty-five years later, from the exiles who negotiated with Castro to the Vietnam vet on whose boat, Mañana, she finally crossed the treacherous Florida Strait. Finding Mañana is the engrossing and enduring story of a family caught in the midst of the tumultuous politics of the twentieth century.

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