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Find Me in Havana

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  114 ratings  ·  71 reviews
A novel based on the dazzling story of one of Hollywood's most celebrated Hispanic actresses and her daughter's search for closure.

Cuba, 1936: When Estelita Rodriguez sings in a hazy Havana nightclub for the very first time, she is nine years old. From then on, that spotlight of adoration--from Havana to New York's Copacabana and then Hollywood--becomes the one true accomp
Paperback, 336 pages
Published January 12th 2021 by Park Row Books
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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Jessica | JustReadingJess
Find Me in Havana by Serena Burdick is a historical fiction book about a Cuban woman and her daughter. Find Me in Havana is based on the true story of Estelita Rodriguez.

Find Me in Havana is told from Estelita and Nina’s perspectives. This really helped the story by allowing the reader to understand both character’s feelings. I enjoyed reading about Estelita’s and Nina’s relationship. There were many times where Nina thought her mom was putting her career or other people before her, but from Est
Nenia ✨️ Socially Awkward Trash Panda ✨️ Campbell
The premise and cover are kind of giving me Evelyn Hugo vibes.
Jan 03, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Before reading Find Me in Havana, I had never heard of Cuban-born singer and actress Estelita Rodriguez. Author Serena Burdick had a chance meeting with Nina Rodriquez and the story of her mother Estelita intrigued her. Years later she revisited the incredible and mostly unknown story and wrote this fictionalized version.

The book is told in two voices. Mother Estelita writing to daughter Nina and Nina writing to her mother, who we know from the start, died in 1966 at age 37. Estelita’s singing
Jan 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Thanks to NetGalley for a arc copy for a honest review.

Find Me in Havana is a 5 star read. I hadn’t heard of Estelita Rodriguez a Cuban actress. best known for her roles in many Westerns with Roy Rogers for Republic Pictures, as well as her role in Howard Hawks' Rio Bravo.

In January 1953, Rodriguez married actor Grant Withers; they divorced in 1955. ... On March 12, 1966, Estelita Pego was found dead on the kitchen floor of her home, at age 37. The cause of death was complications of influenza
Sep 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Find Me in Havana by Serena Burdick is an excellent historical fiction (that is written about true characters and events) kept me fascinated and enthralled from beginning to end.

This novel tells the story of Estelita Rodriguez and her daughter, Nina Lopez (Rodriguez) in alternating chapters and in letter form. Each chapter is written as a journal entry/letter to the other woman. It was wonderful to be able to enter the life and minds of both women and see each event as it unfolded within their
Sep 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This poignant story is based on the life of Cuban singer and actress Estelita Rodriguez, as told to the author by her daughter. During a time when women were supposed to bow to their husband’s wishes, both Mamá and Estelita were cut from a different cloth. Their strength comes out through the pages to inspire today’s women. Read more about this memorable book on my blog "You decide: Should I read it or not?": https://shouldireaditornot.wordpress.... ...more
Jodie (That Happy Reader)
The story unfolds in a series of letters between Estelita Rodriguez and her daughter Nina Lopez. The story begins in Cuba in 1936 with Estelita’s family struggling following the Cuban Revolution. Growing up with a group of sisters who loved to sing and dance, Estelita is discovered in a nightclub in Havana as a young girl and arrives in the U.S. at age 15 to sing at the Copacabana in New York City. Nina is the result of a marriage to actor Chu Chu Martinez, the first of her four husbands. As was ...more
Dec 11, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars.

The writing was pretty phenomenal, I really enjoyed the historical aspect, and I had a hard time tearing myself away from this book. This book is correctly compared to "The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo." Just add the Cuban revolution and multi-generational mother/daughter relationships in there. I love historical fiction and enjoy multi-generational family sagas a lot so I really liked the lead up to the climax/the end.

The book was tense throughout and I think the author did a fantas
Oct 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley-books
4.5 stars. I received a digital galley of this book yesterday. I thought it looked interesting so started reading it immediately...and finished it less than 24 hours later. This book is outstanding. It is a fictional retelling of the life of Estelita Rodriguez, a Cuban singer who eventually moved to Los Angeles to make her way in the movies. I am not an expert on old movies and I had never heard of Estelita but I now plan on researching her fascinating life which included an exciting chase throu ...more
Donna Hines
Find Me In Havana is a tough read covering some heavy topics that will have you questioning political activism, the rise to power under dictatorships, & the overall effect upon generations of Cuban families.
The stronghold for me was two fold. The way this was written did become burdensome at times as it was labeled in a manner of speaking with Nina and her mothers past letters addressed to her.
So, in essence it was a ghostly experience in which we uncover the hardships, the abuse, the dysfunctio
It was quite hard to get into the story. I finally got in around 85% into it when Nina was trying to make her mother accept what was romantically good for her.. basically anything other than her abusing stepfather. This was a tipping point with dramatic consequences and my soul then dove into the story of Estelita and Nina Rodriguez.

A sad, dramatic, historical fiction novel based on the life of Cuban-American actress Estelita Rodriguez, who I have never heard of before. This woman has fought all
Amy Lee
Jan 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
4 stars
This was a sweeping historical fiction story that takes you from LA, to Mexico and Cuba. The story of Estelita Rodriguez and her daughter Nina is told by alternating perspectives between them. This gives insight into the characters feelings as they are not very good at sharing them with each other. It also allows the reader to see what is the motivation behind some of the decisions that they make. Estelita is so focused on her career that she loses sight of the importance of motherhood an
Jay bookworm
Dec 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: on-kindle, netgalley
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher, Park Row (Harlequin) for the advance copy of the book. Seeing the author, Serena Burdick’s, book up for selection, I couldn’t say no. Girl in the Afternoon was one of my favorite books the year that I read it, so I went in with high expectations for another great story. I was not disappointed. This is one of those “based on a true story” novels that make you realize the backstory of certain people make for fascinating reading. We follow Nina and her mother ...more
Jan 19, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: r-ng, blog-tours
Find Me in Havana by Serena Burdick is a tragic but memorable story that encompasses Cuban history, Hollywood, violence against girls, and the relationships between sister, mothers, and daughters. Although written as fiction, this book is based on a true story. Prior to this book, I had never heard of Estelita Rodriguez or her sad and complicated life. Now, as her daughter intended, I will remember her life.

Read my complete review at

Reviewed for NetGall
Chantale Canadian Book Addict
Dec 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
I listened to this book on audiobook and I have to say I did like it very much.
Such a good story that gets you hooked.
Virginia Winfield
Jan 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book is written as a mother and a daughter writing letters to each other through the good and bad days of their lives. I loved that this book was based on a real mother and daughter. The mother, Estelita, and her daughter Nina learn how each other is feeling through the years. Estelita is an actress and a singer born in Cuba. The story tells how she grows up and ends in the United States. Both Estelita and Nina had many good and bad things happen through their lives. This is a very sad stor ...more
Dec 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
The River Within seems like a classic story of love, loss, class distinction and tragedy. What makes the story unique is Powell’s poetic language and the sense of place that permeates the story. Even though the story opens with a death (not a spoiler), this is a delicate telling of human emotion. It is told by the alternating narration of the four main characters and multiple timelines which can be a challenge to keep straight, but it helps to maintain the tension of the story. I enjoyed this st ...more
Dec 11, 2020 marked it as dnf
DNF at 14%

I think this is a- it's not you, it's me scenario. I'm not connecting with the writing style, I didn't expect some of the content to be so traumatic so early on, and I'm just not as interested as I thought I would be. I was probably hoping for something like Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and this isn't that.
Alisha Phillips
This book was a little confusing at first. I listened to it as an audiobook thanks to NetGalley. It was odd that it was written almost as letters from mother to daughter, but the information included in them was pretty detailed and explicit. I would never want to read a letter from my mom like that.

I always enjoy a good historical fiction book. I love other Serena Burdick books, but this one was just okay. The storyline was dull at first, became exciting, then quickly went downhill again. Becau
Bookteafull (Danny)
Jan 14, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley, my-people
TW: Molestation, Sexual Assault, Rape, Parental Kidnapping, Domestic Abuse/Intimate Partner Violence, Drug Addiction.

This book was basically just Trauma Porn™ - just fyi y'all.

Where do I even start?

- Author Choice

A book about Estelita Rodriguez, a famous Cuban actress and singer, with segments concerning the Cuban Revolution, was written by a non-hispanic, white female. While Estelita's daughter, Nina, agreed to the creation of this book and completed interviews with Burdick for the developmen
Jan 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
Originally published at Reading Reality

This is one of those stories that lives up to the adage “fiction is the lie that tells the truth.” Because this is a fictionalized story of a real life, a real death, and a real mystery. The author, having been told this story, filled in the blanks provided by the story of a daughter, 30 years later, telling the story of the mother who died under mysterious circumstances, and whom, quite possibly, she never really knew.

The woman at the center of this story
Jan 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
(4.5⭐️) FIND ME IN HAVANA by Serena Burdick is the historical fiction book that is based on the true events of the life of Cuban-born Hollywood actress Estelita Rodriguez. Flipping through the beginning of my #gifted book from Harper Collins, I didn’t plan on reading it right away, but I immediately was caught up in Burdick’s prose. This book is beautiful. She tells Estelita and her daughter, Nina’s, story in a mesmerizing way that makes you not want to put the book down. Believe me, I can attes ...more
I am a fan of classic movies, but had never heard of actress Estelita Rodriguez before picking up Serena Burdick's new novel, Find Me in Havana. Estelita was groomed for the stage as a child in her home country of Cuba before moving to the United States as a teenager to star in numerous westerns alongside the likes of Roy Rogers and John Wayne. However, she died a mysterious death at the age of 37, which is the jumping off point of this rich and enveloping novel of the relationship between a mot ...more
I'm a big fan of novels that feature real people, and Serena Burdick's novel Find Me In Havana tells the story of Estelita Rodriguez, a Cuban actress from the 1950s with whom I was unfamiliar.

Young Estelita came to the United States when she was fifteen years old with her mother. She began as a singer, but her mother Maria encouraged her to become an actress, so they moved to Hollywood where Estelita worked primarily in movie Westerns.

Find Me In Havana tells a fictionalized account of Estelita's
Oct 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Date reviewed: October 31, 2020

When life for the entire universe and planet turns on its end and like everyone else you "have nothing to do" while your place of work is once again closed and you are continuing to be in #COVID19 #socialisolation as the #secondwave is upon us, superspeed readers like me can read 300+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today.

I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the aut
Dec 28, 2020 rated it liked it
*I received a copy of this via the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

In Cuba, 1936, many families are struggling with the fallout of the Cuban Revolution. Estelita Rodriguez and her family are no exception. When Estelita is discovered while singing in a Havana nightclub, she believes all her luck is about to change. Suddenly, at fifteen Estelita is singing on stages such as the Copacabana, and rubbing elbows with the handsomely famous Mexican singer, Chu Chu Martinez. The pair enter int
Courtney | Novel Maven
Trigger warnings: suicide, misogyny, war, violence, kidnapping, child molestation, rape, murder

(2.5 stars, rounded up)

The story is told by both mother and daughter, beginning with mom Estelita Rodriguez's upbringing in Cuba in the 1930s. She lives through the Cuban Revolution and dreams of going to America. She begins singing on the radio and in Havana nightclubs before she is discovered, eventually becoming a famous actress in America.

Estelita's daughter Nina is born in America and doesn't feel
Robin Loves Reading
Estelita Rodriguez began singing at the age of nine years old. This led to her singing in a nightclub in 1936. She went from Havana, Cuba to New York to Hollywood. While she achieved the spotlight, things did not shine bright for her - by any stretch of the imagination.

For one thing, Estelita and her daughter Gina were among the many victims of the 1933 Cuban Revolution. The tragedies that happened to Estelita and her family were beyond horrid. Additionally, Estelita never gave up in her search
Being a huge fan of historical novels, who is the daughter of Cuban immigrants, you can only imagine my delight to discover a Cuban actress named Estelita Rodriguez.  Before reading this book, I had never heard her fascinating and heart breaking story.

Estelita was born to a prominent family in Cuba that was later torn apart by the Cuban revolution in the early ‘30s.  She began her storied career singing in a Havana nightclub when she was a young girl.  Estelita’s mother left behind her husband a
Patricia Romero
Nov 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Estelita Rodriguez is just nine years old when she begins singing in Havana, Cuba clubs. It is 1936 and her life will never be the same.

During the Cuban Revolution in 1933, her father lost everything and left them to join Batista. The family is now living in poverty, but Estelita’s mother sees how talented her daughter is and moves her to America.

Here she will sing at the Copacabana, meeting famous men, and getting offers to go to Hollywood. With her mother by her side and her daughter, Nina, th
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Serena Burdick is the author of the novels GIRL IN THE AFTERNOON (St. Martin’s Press, 2016) and THE GIRLS WITH NO NAMES, forthcoming from Park Row Books in January 2020. She is the 2017 International Book Award Winner for Historical Fiction. She holds an Associates of Arts degree from The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in theater and a Bachelors of Arts from Brooklyn College in English literatu ...more

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