Learning to Die in Miami: Confessions of a Refugee Boy
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Learning to Die in Miami: Confessions of a Refugee Boy

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3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  429 ratings  ·  88 reviews
Carlos Eire's story of a boyhood uprooted by the Cuban Revolution quickly lures us in, as eleven-year-old Carlos and his older brother Tony touch down in the sun-dappled Miami of 1962—a place of daunting abundance where his old Cuban self must die to make way for a new, American self waiting to be born.

In this enchanting new work, narrated in Eire's inimitable and lyrical...more
Audio CD, 0 pages
Published November 4th 2010 by Tantor Media (first published October 21st 2010)
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Nicole
Fantastic memoir. Loved every page. Well written an understatement. Flows effortlessly back and forth through time - tying everything in- in a way that transcends time. Amazing what children, people, endure, and how they can continue on, overcome, and even shine. I loved this book.
Shirley Freeman
Since 2002 I've worked fairly closely with two different refugee families and so find refugee/resettlement stories particularly compelling. Carlos Eire is a beautiful writer with a unique story. He describes his feelings of being 11 years old and falling head over heels in love with his new language and culture BUT with an enormous void where his parents, family, Cuban culture and language used to be. He writes of coming home to an empty house to find the 'void' waiting for him. He writes about...more
Linda
I just finished the first volume in Carlos Eire's memoirs, Waiting for Snow in Havana. I had to purchase this book right away to learn more about how Eire went for a privileged life in Cuba, to living in an impoverished immigrant neighborhood on the North Side of Chicago, to go on to become a Professor at Yale.

I've now finished this second volume of Eire's memoirs. He writes from deep within his soul of the emotional difficulty of adjusting to life in the US and the many challenges he faces on...more
Jay

Learning to Die in Miami: Confessions of a Refugee Boy is primarily about how the author dealt with the pain and joy of leaving the old and embracing the new. This was the plight of Carlos Eire when he was sent by his parents from Cuba to Florida after Castro took power. Unlike many who refused to adapt, thinking they would soon return to Cuba, Eire made every effort to cope with the challenges of his several involuntary moves. Having had many previous childhood experiences in Cuba, Eire relishe...more
Rachel G.
I love Carlos Eire, and I loved his first book so much that I bought it. Even though his style isn't my favorite, I have found few non-fiction books that so exquisitely tell the story of immigration, loss, and childhood like Eire does. His first book, though, was definitely better; this one jumped around far too frequently, making it difficult to keep track of what was going on. It was also much more stream of consciousness than the first book, and at times it felt more like a diary that was nev...more
Ann
A continuation of Carlos Wire's story started in "Waiting for Snow in Havana" about his leaving Cuba as one of the 14,000 Pedro Pan children airlifted to the USA.

Although this was fairly engaging and I do feel great sympathy/empathy for what he endured as a child separated from his parents, in a land where everythinbg was different and he must transform himself,from "Carlos" into "Chuck", I still had a lot of frustration with the book. First of all, I felt that he was capitalizing on the success...more
Caroline
I honestly feel like I could have Carlos Eire sit in a McDonalds for a few hours, write an essay about his experience, and I would end up with a piece of writing that I would find totally beautiful and engrossing and profound. I love his style and prose that much.

Learning to Die in Miami picks roughly where Waiting for Snow in Havana leaves off: Carlos and his brother Tony's arrival in Florida after the Pedro Pan airlifts. The style is almost identical to the one Eire used in his first book, whi...more
Sky Saraceni
This book connected to me very closely. My mother walked in the same footsteps as Carlos, only a few years after when things started to get even worse. Looking at the events that Carlos had went through, through what my mother had went through were so similar, it showed me how thing never really changed in the years that Castro was in power.

This story is a story about new beginnings. How coming from somewhere that it dangerous, and in poverty, to somewhere rich and free to their citizens. It sh...more
Paul Schulzetenberg
Disclaimer: I have a distant personal connection to this author.

I really liked the first of Eire's books, Waiting for Snow in Havana, and I eagerly looked forward to this book. This book chronologically picks up right where Snow left off, as Eire lands in Miami after his flight from Cuba. But make no mistake, this is not a rehash of Snow, nor should it be.

Snow is a charming book told with dark undertones, Die is a darker book told with charming undertones. This grows organically from the topic...more
Raquel
The memoir of a boy who arrived in America in the early 1960s as part of Cuba's Operation Peter Pan. Over 14,000 Cuban children were airlifted out of the country and placed in American foster homes as their parents lost everything and feared their children would fall into the clutches of Communists.

The story of how Carlos and his brother endured this ripping apart of their family is fascinating, but toward the end the book started to fall apart for me. After his mother finally arrived from Cuba...more
Monica
I was really glad to read this immediately after Waiting for Snow in Havana. The explosive urgency of the earlier book is muted. Carlos is no longer the anarchic boy running free in his beloved Havana. His parents, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, have stayed behind, Louis to guard his art work and wait for things to get better, Marie to apply for her own exit visa so she can join her sons.

The series of foster homes that Carlos and his brother go through range from kind and comfortable to Dickens...more
Susan Hester
Memoir of one of the 14,000 Cuban children airlifted to the U.S. in the early Castro days (early 1960's). Sacrificed by their parents so that they could be "free," the children were placed into foster homes, orphanages and/or with very distant relatives. This was informative as to the experiences of one boy (who became quite successful) and his brother, but I found the writing terrible, especially toward the middle to end. I don't require books to be linear, but this one jumped around so much so...more
Lila Vogt
I have read Waiting for Snow in Havana,so was familiar with Eire's work. This memoir is incredible. I had no idea that over 14,000 children were airlifted out of Cuba in the early 1960's, some as young as 3. Parents were desperate to get their children to a safe haven, hoping to be able to follow them. Many were never reunited, such as Carlos' father, who died in Cuba before being able to secure passage to leave. After 3 years, his mother was finally able to escape Fidel's Rule. He refers to pos...more
Nancy
I read this book immediately after reading Eire's Waiting for Snow in Havana. I loved the first book and was anxious to hear the rest of the story. Learning to Die in Miami is well written and parts are riveting, but too much time is spent going over and over the same events. I realize these events are huge and painful memories that have shaped the author's life, but the repetition became tedious.

The author's descriptions of the physical and mental deterioration of his mother, father and brother...more
Katherine Lambertson
This book is heart rending and complex in its simplicity. Carlos Eire has written another wonderful book chronicling his experiences as a Piedro Pan child refugee during the Castro Cuban revolution and aftermath. Can't wait to read "Waiting for Snow in Havana."
Linda Griffin
I loved this book and I loved the little boy who was a true survivor. No matter how difficult the situation he found a way to survive and had to let the past die so he could move on and make the best of his life. I loved the chapter with no number. That was beautiful.
Helen
This book is a continuation of Waiting for Snow in Havana, the story of Carlos Eire, one of the 14,000 children airlifted out of Cuba in 1958.

While this book is non-fiction - it reads like a novel and chronicles the life of a privledged 8 year old trasformed by the experience of loss of everything - parents, culture and priviledge.

I didn't know anything (really) about the 14,000 children airlifted out of Cuba to Miami before I read Waiting for Snow - this book picks up where that one left off. T...more
Suzy
I am absolutely in LOVE with Carlos Eire! I adored the first volume of his memoir, "Waiting for Snow in Havana". His mixture of humor and honest reflection are a winning combination that get me every time. Just when I'm doubled over with laughter at a young boy's antics, he places a heartbreaking reflection or insight and I'm over-come with emotion. Can you imagine flying away from home at age 11 and not seeing your mother for 3 years and never again seeing your father? Bouncing from foster home...more
Dorinda
Continuing the story begun with "...Snow in Havana" Carlos and his brother are sent to the US in the Pedro Pan Airlift of 14,000 unaccompanied children, only a few with any families or contacts in the US ready to receieve them. Carlos and Tony pass from good to bad foster homes to finally join a recently immigated uncle in Illinois and ultimiately back into their mother's care when she finally reaches the US. The the repeated loss/death, as the author lived this life, provides another way to loo...more
Faith
I found this book at the airport and almost didn't take it with me. This read was both humorous, and, at times, horrifying; an emotionally quirky biography focusing on how loss (described as "death") plus faith and determination make us who we are. Carlos Eire's sudden rift from family, as he is airlifted to Miami, with his brother, during the Cuban Crisis, begins a journey from bad to better, from better to worse, and back again. As I read, I kept wondering: Who is the Carlos (Charles, Chuck) i...more
Mary
Reading this book so close to reading Waiting For Snow In Havana was a mistake. I went from seeing beautiful Havana through a bright, innocent child's eyes, to seeing Miami and the immigrant experience through the eyes of the common immigrant. The immigrant experience is brutal, frightening and extremely disappointing after expecting to come to a country where the " streets are paved with gold". This voice was difficult after reading the same character's optimistic voice, a voice filled with a f...more
Eric Clark
Such a captivating read that provides a small glimpse into the world of a refugee boy as he transitions into a new life.
Gerrie
The experience of reading this book is definitely enhanced by having started with "Snow." Much of the character development and historical background weren't reiterated here, which was good for a sequel but could be limiting as an intro.

While I don't disagree with the reviewers who were distracted by Eire's hopping around, for me this underscored that his emotional evolution was neither consistent nor linear.

Eire has survived a most challenging and unorthodox upbringing. His process for identi...more
Gail
What a BIG disappointment! I so loved Carlos Eire's first book "Waiting for Snow in Havana" that when I saw his current book in the library, I couldn't wait to read it. It started out good but then deteriorated. His first book had such gorgeous imagery and was so beautifully written. Not the case here. Eire's excessive use of metaphors drove me crazy. His constant jumping back and forth from past to future, at first, was interesting and then became irritating.
I slogged through 300 pages (there'...more
Alicia
As one of the 14,000+ children airlifted from Cuba without parents in the early 1960s, I really identified and understood this book. 11 yr old Carlos had to "die" and become Charles/Chuck/Charlie to survive the translocation at such a tender age. He had to put his parents in the "vault of oblivion" and learn to survive in a "new world" as we all did. I don't think you could appreciate this book without having read "Waiting for Snow in Havana", his first book, which is an even better story. This...more
Karen
An interesting autobiography written by one of the 14,000 children who were part of the 1962 Pedro Pan airlift-- a part of history that I had never been aware of. The book follows his life as he learns to become an American and we get to look at American life through the eyes of a child from Cuba-- which, honestly, opened my eyes to some of the freedoms we have that I have taken for granted!

Eire is a history and religious studies professor at Yale and his writing style reflects that. I enjoyed h...more
Michelle
Well, I did not like this as well as Waiting for Snow in Havana. There were parts of the book that were also really lyrical, however, bad language, odd ramblings and a lot of jumping around made it much harder to process. This was a very honest-feeling memoir, at times a little whiny, at times courageous, at times depressing, occasionally soaring. If only Eire could refrain from the exceedingly many ways he feels it necessary to take the Lord's name in vain and the other profanity, I could be so...more
Cynthia Karl
This book, a continuation of "Waiting for Snow in Havana", chronicles the author's life after he, along with 14,000 other children, were air lifted from Cuba after Castro's revolution. Eire describes very well the conditions in which he had to live and forthrightly expresses his emotions. Much of the book is heart-rending; that Eire succeeded in life as well as he did is amazing. Unfortunately, his brother air lifted at the same time did not succeed. This is not only an interesting memoir but is...more
Mike Moskos
Starts slow and you'll wonder what the hype is. Gets much better.

Ideal as an audiobook.
Alison
Really, for me this was a three and a half star book. I thought it was not as well written as Waiting for Snow in Havana. I kept thinking "Carlos should have had a better editor; this would have been more effective if it had been more concise." Still, it is impossible not to be moved by this story of an eleven-year-old boy who was separated from his family in the aftermath of the Cuban revolution. There are passages that vividly capture the absolute panic of feeling utterly cut-off from anyone w...more
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