Heroin Addiction, Drug Abuse, Sex, Murder, Execution, Political Assassinations, Corruption, Graphic Depictions of Artwork
Dominican, Cuban, Gay, Queer
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One of the things that I worry about with translated books is that the main message or heart of the story is going to get lost or forgotten because it’s not in its native language, if that makes sense. Now, if only I could read and understand Spanish fluently, or even any other language like I wish I could, then there would be so many other novels that I could read in its original format, but I was still really glad to be able to read this translated version. This isn’t to say that I didn’t trust the translation or the job that Sydney Hutchinson did as Translator, not at all. I just hope that I was able to appreciate the novel in the way that Rita Indiana intended.
some people will do whatever it takes to protect their family… while some will do whatever it takes to forget their family
I think about how our main character Argenis was so angry at his father for selling out his entire country when he changed political sides during the revolution on Cuba. And yes, I completely understand that because there are so many difficult things to consider when something as dangerous and violent as a revolution / rebellion is taking place in your home. I know that I have never gone through anything like this, so I know that I could never be in the same situation as Argenis or anyone else in his family could have, so please take this as a grain of salt.
On one hand, Argenis grew up poor in Cuba, to the point that his father ended up using Argenis’s treat money ( I forget right now if it was his birthday money or something else ) in order to buy himself a suit. Argenis of course allowed him to use this money because at the time, he felt like this was more important than the shoes that he wanted to get because they were brand new and maybe the new custom tailored suit would help his father feel more important and get a better paying job. Something that will make him be able to take better care of his family. Something, right? Even though his father and his mother were not together anymore – or at least didn’t say together throughout his entire life – both of his parents did what they could to make sure that he wasn’t left wanting by the time they sent him to the Dominican Republic for rehab. His mother sent him with a luggage full of things that she thought he would like, and it was a lot of expensive things that while it was worth a lot monetary wise, it probably didn’t mean a lot to Argenis in a sentimental way. And with Argenis’ father, he switched political parties so that he wouldn’t be assassinated for helping the revolution in the past.
On the other hand, Argenis felt like his father was a traitor and he wanted to get revenge against his father when he got back to Cuba. What exactly he wanted to do, I’m still not too clear on that, but he wanted to make his father pay, especially for making him feel like he had to give up his shoe money for his dad to get a suit when he was a younger boy. That point in time truly stuck with Argenis for all of these years and made a huge impact on Argenis that it was the driving point for his revenge on his father. It also felt like Argenis’ brother Ernesto could care less what happened to his brother or his family since he was making money now as an adult, and that was all that mattered to him. So while the parents did whatever was necessary to ensure that their children were able to live a life without suffering – or at least an adulthood without suffering – Argenis and Ernesto just did not care about wanting to give back to their parents or each other.
addiction can take on many forms
The main reason why Argenis was sent to the Dominican Republic was because his father wanted him to go to rehab to get rid of his addiction to heroin. Now, I may not be addicted to heroin specifically, but I know how intense addiction can be, and how hard it is to feel like you can live without said addiction to whatever it is that you are addicted to. Especially when the people that are supposed to be in charge of helping you get rid of that addiction are the ones enabling that addiction and mistreating you because they are taking advantage of your vulnerability.
Also, while you can be successful in curbing your addiction for one thing, it can easily transfer to something else. Whether that “something else” is better or worse… well that’s up to you, and that’s just something that happens. I’m no expert, and if you feel like you or someone else you know may be dealing with a dangerous addiction, I recommend seeking help from a professional. It may not seem like a big deal, but it is worth looking into it. If they don’t want help, you can at least give them the resources to have them get the help when they are ready. If it’s you that wants help, then at least you know where to start.
You aren’t alone in this, just know that.
We follow Argenis throughout this story since this is about him, so we mostly see whether he grows from his time before being sent off to Cuba and after he goes back to the Dominican Republic. I was proud of him after he left rehab, and how he was able to somehow not resort back to heroin, although there were times where he would self-sabotage himself. It felt like it was almost divine intervention that he wasn’t able to get any heroin for himself, which helped him stay sober from that drug, but either way he didn’t end up getting his hands on it throughout our time with him.
Other than that though, I think he still has a while to go before I could consider him going through a full development, which I would say is okay. This was a fairly short novel compared to a lot of other novels that I’ve read, and I feel like Indiana left it pretty open ended to show that there are so many ways that Argenis’ story could end – or begin – after that last page. I do like that towards the end, he did make his own decision to do something for himself, and go somewhere that he wasn’t forced to go because of his parents or his family. However, the way that he went about it was pretty deceitful and I’m still not sure how I feel about it. I get that when you’re dealing with pretty shady people, you have to do some shady things in order to survive, but it still bothered me. So I’ll just leave it at that.
Unfortunately, I didn’t really feel much emotionally when I was reading this novel. I could understand the addiction part, and did feel slightly upset about one of the doctors taking advantage of Argenis during his rehab, but that wasn’t much of the book and then it was kind of over. I usually feel at least something when I’m reading a book, so this was kind of weird for me.
Again, since this was a translation, I don’t feel right rating on the writing style since I’m not sure if the translation really conveys the writing style that Indiana was trying to have. If there is someone that wants to read the original Spanish text and see how it compares to the translated version, let me know how it differs, or if it’s fairly the same, etc. That would be interesting to see.
I’d love to listen to an audiobook version of this in Spanish. Even if I won’t be able to understand everything that’s being said, I feel like it would be more meaningful and more emotional being told that way. I truly felt like I didn’t have the full experience like I was supposed to because I wasn’t able to read it the way it was intended to. And unfortunately, that meant that I wasn’t able to give the rating that I think it should have had. While I don’t think that 3-star ratings are good or bad, I do feel like 3-star ratings can be seen as more negative to a lot of people that just rely on ratings more than reviews.
I say that I hope you take the time to read other reviews of this novel, hopefully from those that read this story in its original format, to truly get a feel for how it was, and take my review as a grain of salt. So while I’ll include a rating on my post, I won’t put a rating on Goodreads so it doesn’t negatively impact the current rating on there since there’s already so little ratings to begin with.
Now I know that at least on my feed, I have not seen anyone talk about this book before, and looking more into it and the publisher, I found that the publishing company And Other Stories has a subscription service for the books that they publish because they are an independent not-for-profit publisher based in North England. I thought their mission was really interesting, and so I decided to subscribe to them, and see which books that they have in store that I may not have had the chance to hear about without them. If you want to hear more about And Other Stories, here is their link. Since I recently subscribed before their deadline, the next book I should be receiving is called “Notes from Childhood” by Norah Lange, due to come out in May 2021. I’ll be receiving it in February 2021. This one looks like the story will take place in Argentina.
How did this book find its way all the way to Virginia, USA? I have no idea, but I’m glad it did. I may see what other books from them I want to purchase, because some of the books that I did miss before hearing about this company sound really interesting and something that I’d want to read in the future. You know, whenever the possibility pile ends up decreasing in number.
Until next time, friends.