Learning to Die in Miami by Carlos Eire
Confessions of a Refugee Boy

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Synopsis

In his 2003 National Book Award–winning memoir Waiting for Snow in Havana, Carlos Eire narrated his coming of age in Cuba just before and during the Castro revolution. That book literally ends in midair as eleven-year-old Carlos and his older brother leave Havana on an airplane—along with thousands of other children—to begin their new life in Miami in 1962. It would be years before he would see his mother again. He would never again see his beloved father.

Learning to Die in Miami opens as the plane lands and Carlos faces, with trepidation and excitement, his new life. He quickly realizes that in order for his new American self to emerge, his Cuban self must "die." And so, with great enterprise and purpose, he begins his journey.

We follow Carlos as he adjusts to life in his new home. Faced with learning English, attending American schools, and an uncertain future, young Carlos confronts the age-old immigrant’s plight: being surrounded by American bounty, but not able to partake right away. The abundance America has to offer excites him and, regardless of how grim his living situation becomes, he eagerly forges ahead with his own personal assimilation program, shedding the vestiges of his old life almost immediately, even changing his name to Charles. Cuba becomes a remote and vague idea in the back of his mind, something he used to know well, but now it "had ceased to be part of the world."

But as Carlos comes to grips with his strange surroundings, he must also struggle with everyday issues of growing up. His constant movement between foster homes and the eventual realization that his parents are far away in Cuba bring on an acute awareness that his life has irrevocably changed. Flashing back and forth between past and future, we watch as Carlos balances the divide between his past and present homes and finds his way in this strange new world, one that seems to hold the exhilarating promise of infinite possibilities and one that he will eventually claim as his own.

An exorcism and an ode, Learning to Die in Miami is a celebration of renewal—of those times when we’re certain we have died and then are somehow, miraculously, reborn.
 

About Carlos Eire

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Born in Havana in 1950, Carlos Eire left his homeland in 1962, one of fourteen thousand unaccompanied children airlifted out of Cuba by Operation Pedro Pan. After living in a series of foster homes in Florida and Illinois, he was reunited with his mother in Chicago in 1965. His father, who died in 1976, never left Cuba. After earning his Ph.D. at Yale University in 1979, Eire taught at St. John's University in Minnesota for two years and at the University of Virginia for fifteen. He is now the T. Lawrason Riggs Professor of History and Religious Studies at Yale University. He lives in Guilford, Connecticut, with his wife, Jane, and their three children. David Drummond has made his living as an actor for over twenty-five years, appearing on stages large and small throughout the country and in Seattle, Washington, his hometown. He has narrated over thirty audiobooks for Tantor, in genres ranging from current political commentary to historical nonfiction, from fantasy to military, and from thrillers to humor. He received an AudioFile Earphones Award for his first audiobook, Love 'Em or Lose 'Em: Getting Good People to Stay. When not narrating, David keeps busy writing plays and stories for children.
 
Published November 2, 2010 by Free Press. 325 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Action & Adventure, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Learning to Die in Miami

Kirkus Reviews

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In this period of “death and rebirth,” the author tried to blot out memories of a repressive Castrolandia and thrilled to a Miami where everything was “so new, so free of ghosts, so wide open.” While his brother was sent elsewhere, Eire was taken in by a kind Jewish family, learned English and Yi...

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The New York Times

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But those who remember the exuberant kid from “Waiting for Snow in Havana” — launching a lizard into outer space on the back of a firecracker, chasing after beautiful blue clouds of DDT — will be moved by the man he becomes.

Jan 21 2011 | Read Full Review of Learning to Die in Miami: Con...

Publishers Weekly

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A stranger in a strange land, Eire (Waiting for Snow in Havana), one of 14,000 children airlifted out of Cuba in Operation Peter Pan in 1962, describes the classic American immigrant experience in Miami, Fla., with a mix of insightful observation, humor, and heartfelt emotion.

Aug 23 2010 | Read Full Review of Learning to Die in Miami: Con...

Bookmarks Magazine

Flashing back and forth between past and future, we watch as Carlos balances the divide between his past and present homes and finds his way in this strange new world, one that seems to hold the exhilarating promise of infinite possibilities and one that he will eventually claim as his own.

Nov 01 2010 | Read Full Review of Learning to Die in Miami: Con...

The New Yorker

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Dec 06 2010 | Read Full Review of Learning to Die in Miami: Con...

AARP

Enjoy three fun-filled days of activities — and don't-miss concerts by The Temptations, The Four Tops and Shania Twain.

Nov 10 2010 | Read Full Review of Learning to Die in Miami: Con...

Florida Times-Union

Readers begin to understand how everything changes - not only for Eire, but for themselves.

May 01 2011 | Read Full Review of Learning to Die in Miami: Con...

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