Worm: A Cuban American Odyssey

Metropolitan. Nov. 2023. 304p. ISBN 9781250753977. $29.99. MEMOIR
Rodriguez (Sergio Saves the Game) details his journey from growing up in Cold War Cuba to becoming an internationally acclaimed illustrator and children’s book author in this vividly rendered memoir. Born just six years after the Cuban Missile Crisis, Rodriguez spent the first nine years of his life in El Gabriel, a small town not far from Havana. Tenderly evoked reminiscences of his extended family and friends during these years intertwine with anecdotes illustrating rationing, food and supply shortages, and the rampant paranoia of being perceived as disloyal to the state. This provides a fascinating and complex portrait of the author’s childhood leading up to 1980, when his parents decided to emigrate to the United States. Upon announcing their decision to leave Cuba, the family is forced from their home with nothing but the clothes on their backs and placed in a detention camp alongside convicted prisoners and psychiatric patients until they are permitted to board a shrimping vessel bound for Miami. After arriving, the family attempts to carve out a future for themselves while also pining for home and those left behind.
VERDICT A passionate firsthand account of historical events and a compelling coming-of-age tale in one.
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