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Es Cuba: Life and Love on an Illegal Island by Lea Aschkenas

Es Cuba is a poignant and passionate travel memoir about falling in love with a country and one of its compatriots. Aschkenas never strays from her acute awareness that there is no way to separate her foreignness (intensified by U.S.-Cuba relations) from the complex mix of emotions, devotion and rejection, enrapture and apprehension that she develops toward the country.

Her tale is filled with beautifully woven descriptions of Cuba and the customs and habits of its people. Aschkenas is a discerning observer, taking in the innocence, isolation, contradictions, and resolute optimism of a people who have persevered against the collective disappointment bestowed upon them by a government that has been unable to deliver the utopia promised by socialism. Aschkenas, already a seasoned traveler by the time she arrives in Cuba for the first time in 1999, is overcome by her own passion for Cuba and her unraveling affection for Alfredo as she comes to appreciate his naïveté, sincerity, and ability to live for the moment, something she comes to realize is the effect of growing up in a culture where nothing is ever certain.

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