Leaving Little Havana:
Revolution uprooted six-year-old Cecilia from her comfortable middle-class Cuban home and dropped her into the low-income neighborhood of Miami’s Little Havana.
Her philandering father focused on rebuilding his career, chasing the American promise of wealth and freedom from the past. Her mother spiraled into madness trying to hold the family together and get him back. Neglected and trapped, Cecilia rebelled against her conservative culture and embraced the 1960s counter-culture – seeking love, attention and a place of her own in America. But immigrant children either thrive or self-destruct in a new land. How will Cecilia beat the odds?
While most memoirs by Cuban-Americans revolve around childhood scenes in Cuba and explore the experiences of a young man, Leaving Little Havana is the first refugee memoir to focus on a Cuban girl growing up in America, rising above the obstacles and clearing a path to her dream.
Leaving Little Havana, won the gold medal for “Most Inspirational Nonfiction Book” at theInternational Latino Book Awards and was selected as a finalist in the 2011 Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Book Contest.
“Leaving Little Havana is the compelling story of a Cuban girl seeking a new life in the U.S. with her family as the Cuban revolution unfolds in the early sixties. ‘Cecilita’s’ personal account, and sexual awakening, is transparent, sad, and triumphant, sprinkled with anecdotes of an emerging Cuban-American landscape. In short, this book is a colorful reminiscence of historical scenes on both sides of the Straits of Florida, providing closure to a Cuban American journalist coming to terms with her turbulent past.”
– Guarione M. Diaz, President Emeritus, Cuban American National Council
“Cecilia Fernandez’s memoir of growing up Cuban in Miami is not only fascinating reading, it tells more about the story of Cubans in this U.S. than a truckload of sociology textbooks – and is a thousand times more entertaining!”
– Dan Wakefield, author of New York in the Fifties
“Leaving Little Havana is a candid, touching, and engaging memoir of a young Cuban exile’s coming of age. Cecilia Fernandez writes with passion and intensity, both of her missteps and her triumphs, casting fresh light on the American experience in the process.”
– Les Standiford, author of Havana Run and Bringing Adam Home
“Cecilia Fernandez gives us a coming of age story told with wide open eyes and vivid details of growing up in Little Havana. Broken-hearted more times than she can count, she gradually finds a path to new beginnings and the infinite promises of the American Dream. A poignant and important chronicle of the Miami Cuban immigrant journey.”
– Ruth Behar, author of Traveling Heavy: A Memoir in Between Journeys
“Every so often along comes a book that seizes you by the collar and arrests you on the spot. From page one, Leaving Little Havana is a brilliant, voice-driven book that will make your heart skip a few beats. My experience reading this book was similar to the first time I read The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros when you instantly know you are reading a classic, a story so achingly beautiful and unforgettable you relish every last word as if it were the buzzing of a hummingbird at your lips feeding you honey. This book is about family, about what happens to family in exile, about how people come into a great world of struggle and manage to get by and survive. The author has a great gift for capturing that world-known enclave of Miami we love and call Little Havana. This might be the book that puts it on the literary map for good and forever.”
– Virgil Suárez, author of Latin Jazz, The Cutter, and 90 Miles: Selected and New Poems