“And what have I taught you about song?”
“That songs transport us.
“That’s right. If it has its voice, it is not trapped.”
I don’t know what it is about stories in Havana, but I am enamored. I also really love stories about old Hollywood… So this one was right up my alley. We see our beautiful Estelita hob nob with Desi Arnaz, John Wayne, Angie Dickinson and more glamorous celebrities.
This is the story of a mother and daughter and the trauma which defined their lives. Estelita is brought to America by her mother when she is very young to become a star. They leave the rest of their family behind in politically charged Cuba. Her father is a Batista supporter and this has a huge impact on their lives as the story progresses. Estelita becomes a celebrity and offers her daughter very little attention and care. She’s focused on her career and her love life; the repercussions of those choices will shock you.
I’m not huge on giving trigger warnings but there are several scenes of sexual assault, rape and domestic abuse in this story. Those scenes are especially hard to read as they involve at times children. This novel is based on the true life of Estelita Rodriguez. If this were fiction I would say there is so much violence that it borders on gratuitous and the murder seemed kind of random and unresolved but it was sobering to read knowing that these events actually happened.
This is a powerful story of the survival and resilience of two women. It shows how powerless women were in Cuba and frankly, in America as well in the 50s and 60s. I will say I had a hard time not judging Estelita‘s behavior and its impact on her daughter. But these real stories of women are important deserve to be told. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️