The Mortifications by Derek Palacio
Published October 4, 2016 by Tim Duggan Books
Genres Historical Fiction, Fiction
In 1980, a rural Cuban family is torn apart during the Mariel Boatlift. Uxbal Encarnación—father, husband, political insurgent—refuses to leave behind the revolutionary ideals and lush tomato farms of his sun-soaked homeland. His wife Soledad takes young Isabel and Ulises hostage and flees with them to America, leaving behind Uxbal for the promise of a better life. But instead of settling with fellow Cuban immigrants in Miami’s familiar heat, Soledad pushes further north into the stark, wintry landscape of Hartford, Connecticut. There, in the long shadow of their estranged patriarch, now just a distant memory, the exiled mother and her children begin a process of growth and transformation.
Soledad and her two twin children, Ulises, and Isabel come into the United States in 1980 during the Mariel boatlift. This was a mass immigration of Cubans to the United State who were looking for asylum from Cuban president Fidel Castro. Soledad, Isabel and Ulises headed north to Connecticut, while Uxbal, their father, stayed behind in Cuba. This book focuses on the lives of these 4 main characters, along with Henri, who becomes Soledad’s lover. The book examines many different topics such as family, poverty, loss and the obvious political involvement in the story.
The characters are well developed and the plot focuses mainly on their lives and dynamics. I enjoyed the author’s writing style and found it to be very “flowy” and poetic at times. I also really enjoy reading about other cultures; my undergrad in Anthropology often has me very interested in other cultural practices. And I also enjoyed the historical fiction aspects of the story. I do have to say that the author does focus a lot on the psychological states of the characters, which does make since with this story, as Soledad quite violently removes her children from Cuba. Overall, I found it to be an interesting story, with well developed characters and a steady plot. Thank you to the publisher for sending me a review copy of this book. Happy reading!