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Broken Paradise

Broken Paradise

A Novel

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Cuba, 1956: Cousins Nora and Alicia are accustomed to living among Havana's privileged class -- but their lavish dinners, days at the beach, and extravagant dances come to an end after Castro's rise to power. Food becomes scarce, religion is forbidden, and disease runs rampant. Although Alicia stays behind while Nora emigrates to the United States, both of their identities are challenged as they try to adapt to the changes forced upon them. As the situation in Cuba deteriorates, Alicia is beset by bad fortune, while Nora -- whose heart is still in Cuba -- painfully assimilates into middle-class U.S. culture. Letters between the cousins track their lives until Alicia's situation becomes so difficult that Nora is forced to return and help. But what she finds in Cuba is like nothing she ever imagined.

Told with wrenching insight into the tender balance between the hope and grief that shapes the immigrant heart, Broken Paradise is an extraordinarily powerful novel about passion, love, and the heart's yearning for home.
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  • Washington Square Press | 
  • 368 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416550396 | 
  • February 2008
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Reading Group Guide

By Cecilia Samartin
Introduction
reveals the pain of political turmoil when two cousins, Nora and Alicia, take very different paths following the Cuban revolution. Accustomed to living among Havana's privileged class -- lavish dinners, days at the beach, dances, and dresses -- their idyllic lives take a turn for the worse after Castro's rise to power. Food becomes scarce, religion is forbidden, and disease is rampant. Alicia stays behind while Nora emigrates to America and struggles in an unfamiliar land. Both of their identities are challenged as they try to adapt to the changes forced upon them. The situation in Cuba deteriorates, and Alicia is beset by bad fortune, while Nora painfully assimilates into middle-class US culture. Her heart, however, remains in Cuba. Letters between the cousins track their lives until Alicia finds herself in such dire straits that Nora is forced to return and help. What she finds in Cuba is devastating.
In , Samartin offers heart-wrenching insight into the tender balance between optimism and grief that shapes the immigrant heart. How can one find peace and belonging when one's sense of home is so dichotomized? This story involves reflection about home and country regardless of where they may be.

Group Discussion Questions
1. Samartin tells the story of the Cuban revolution through the eyes of Nora, who is a see more

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