Beacon Press: Family Sentence
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Family Sentence

The Search for My Cuban-Revolutionary, Prison-Yard, Mythic-Hero, Deadbeat Dad

Author: Jeanine Cornillot

A humorous and poignant memoir of a Cuban American girlhood lived between cultures and in the shadow of a father’s incarceration

Jeanine Cornillot was just two years old when her father, a former Cuban revolutionary turned anti-Castro militant, was sentenced to thirty years in a Florida prison for political bombings. His absence left a single mother to raise four children who kept his incarceration a secret and conjured a mythic father-hero out of his occasional letters.

Jeanine’s Irish American mother struggled to support the family in suburban Philadelphia. Summers, she put Jeanine on a plane to Little Havana, where she lived with her Spanish-speaking grandparents and bilingual cousin a sometimes unreliable translator. It was there in Florida that she met her father face to face, in the prison yards.

As Cornillot travels between these two worlds, a wryly funny and unsentimental narrator emerges. Whether meeting her father for the first time at age six and hoping she looks Cuban enough, imagining herself a girl-revolutionary leading protest marches, dreamily planning her father’s homecoming after his prison break, or writing to demand an end to his forty-four-day hunger strike after he’s recaptured, young Jeanine maintains a hopeful pragmatism that belies her age.

Eventually, a child’s mythology is replaced with an adult’s reality in a final reckoning with her father, remarkable for the unsparing honesty on both sides.
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¬¨‚àûFinalemente! As incisive as she is lyrical, funny as she is profound, Cornillot dislodges the bolero-and-palm-tree nostalgia associated with Cuban American identity, and asserts claim to a new and very real history.” —H. G. Carillo, author of Loosing My Espanish

“Adds to the ever-growing jigsaw puzzle that is the Cuban American experience . . . with verve and charm.” —Oscar Hijuelos, author of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love

“A charming, often sorrowful study of learning to let go of a myth and love a person.” —Kirkus Reviews

Family Sentence

ISBN: 978-080700617-7
Publication Date: 9/21/2010
Pages: 232
Size: x Inches (US)
Price:  $16.00
Format: Paperback
Availability: In stock.