My Havana, a poignant and heartwarming biography was inspired by a radio interview of architect Secundino Fernandez, a Cuban immigrant living in New York City. An artist from early on, Fernandez loved drawing the beautiful buildings of “his Havana.” He also loved the island’s warm climate and the pasteles his mother made for him as a boy, to “fatten him up.” His family immigrated first to Spain during the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco. Their return to Cuba was short-lived when they were forced to emigrate once more—this time to the US—after the Cuban Revolution deposed Cuban president Batista.
Read Related: Goodbye, Havana! Hola New York!
In Spain and later in the US, Fernandez missed the warmth, colors, and energy of his beloved Havana. In order to overcome his homesickness, he decided to build a miniature replica of his city out of cardboard, right in his New York bedroom. Eventually, as he began to make new friends, New York City slowly became his home, but he never forgot the Havana of his dreams. While the story certainly carries strong political undertones, what should resonate most with readers is one boy’s love for the city of his birth, and how, with the love and support of his family, he was able to adapt and thrive in a new land. A straightforward narrative and warm illustrations in pastel hues make this story easily accessible to its intended audience.
—Reviewed by Maria Mena, Library Science Professional