Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Last Honest Man in Havana by Melanie Furlong-Riesgo

The Last Honest Man in Havana
by Melanie Furlong-Riesgo

My rating: 5 stars

Publication Date: August 26, 2015
Publisher: Melanie Furlong-Riesgo
ISBN-13: 9781508908098
Genre: Fiction
Print Length: 179 pages
Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
 
It is 1988 and Rafael √Āviles, an engineer at the Cuban Mint in Havana, is a young, earnest Communist Party member living with his ambitious wife, Elena.

When Rafael is drafted to the war in Angola, just as he is about to become a father, he takes a risk to escape the military—convinced he is doing what's best for his country.

As Communist countries around the world begin to see change, Cuba enters its dire Special Period and Rafael's family does what it can to survive. Rafael becomes disenchanted at work and, after a disastrous meeting with Fidel Castro, questions his Party ideals. Finally, he's convinced to do everything in his power to leave the island and improve his family's future.

This is at once a love story—for family and country—as well as a portrait of Havana during this tumultuous time.

 
The Last Honest Man in Havana by Melanie Furlong-Riesgo

The Last Honest Man in HavanaAs Americans, we are hard-pressed to truly understand a Communist dictatorship. Imagine living under conditions so difficult and under such scrutiny that your every move is watched, the amount of food you are entitled to but NOT guaranteed is regulated and health care is non-existent, unless you have the money to grease palms. Rafael believed the party line, he thought his family’s best interests were considered, until one day, he realized that he was nothing but a disposable commodity to a government who cared little for anything beyond its absolute power.

It was 1988, a time when Cuba was a mystery for Americans, and the American way was disparaged in Cuba. It is also a time when one young man realizes that beyond the love of family and favorite places, he must get his family out of this brutal environment if they are to ever know the true joy of living without the heels of a powerful government crushing their every effort to soar. Walk the streets of Havana, a jagged portrait of a city seen both through the heart and the harshness of its bleak reality. Feel Rafael’s heart tear in two as he realizes that escape, at any cost is all that is left, that the government he firmly believed in is not a benevolent institution guaranteeing equality, but a horrible, monstrous being built with lies and cemented with the blood of its people.

Follow Melanie Furlong-Riesgo as she fictionalizes the life and events her husband endured on his journey to freedom. The Last Honest Man is like a eulogy to the dreams and freedoms of Cuba’s sons and daughters who were left behind the iron bars of Communism and a beacon of strength for those fortunate enough to escape. Well-written, filled with the day to day lives of those in Havana, as well as the true beauty of a land that could have been paradise. Ms. Furlong-Riesgo gives a hands on look at a piece of history that has helped shape the world and the people we know today, imperfections and all. She reminds us that heroes and bravery take on all shapes and sizes.

I received this copy from Melanie Furlong-Riesgo in exchange for my honest review.



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