Megan Harlan
September 22, 2000 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Sugar Island

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Ivonne Lamazares
publisher
Houghton Mifflin
genre
Fiction

We gave it a B+

While the story of Cuban refugees risking a 90-mile raft trip to Florida has become a familiar one, Ivonne Lamazares’ bristling debut The Sugar Island, set in 1960s Cuba, vividly fuses one such escape attempt with an equally treacherous mother-daughter relationship. Teenage narrator Tanya so resents her mother, Mirella — who once abandoned her daughter to become a rebel guerrilla but is now infuriated by Castro’s grim regime — that she doubts Mirella’s judgment of Cuba itself. When Mirella plans the family’s escape, Tanya considers informing on her mother. There’s nothing sugary in this bracing tale about a young woman deciding what she owes her country, her family, and herself. B+

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