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The Agüero Sisters (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
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The Agüero Sisters (Ballantine Reader's Circle)

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  1,210 Ratings  ·  73 Reviews
Reina and Constancia Agüero are Cuban sisters who have been estranged for thirty years. Reina--tall, darkly beautiful, and magnetically sexual--still lives in her homeland. Once a devoted daughter of la revolución, she now basks in the glow of her many admiring suitors, believing only in what she can grasp with her five senses. The pale and very petite Constancia lives in ...more
Paperback, 328 pages
Published April 20th 1998 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 1988)
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Cynda
Garcia wove threads that she kept track of. Skillful.
The characters believable, particularly as family members. Believable.
The sisters were different enough due to who their parents were. Believable.
The social history of Cuba since la Revolucion easy enough to follow. Readable.
The description of Miami Cuban population. Credible.
And at times the story had me enthralled.
Ronald Wise
Jul 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A well-crafted story of the reunion of two sisters separated from early life by disparate familial loyalties, and later by political paths following the rise of El Comandante in Cuba. There is a wealth of ironies and mystical significance bordering on magical realism, yet the complex personalities are not compromised and remain as strong entities in the reader's imagination. García also provides a complex modern perspective on the Cuban situation, going right to the heart of the issues facing Cu ...more
Amanda
Mar 17, 2016 rated it did not like it
I absolutely love Dreaming In Cuban and from what I can remember I enjoyed A Handbook to Luck (though I might have to reread that one and make sure after this), but The Agüero Sisters was a severe letdown. The story itself had great potential - the closing line of the book's first chapter in particular conveyed this: "Then he carried his wife seventeen miles to the nearest village and began to tell his lies." (p. 5) - but it was sadly squandered.

Even though García attempted to stylistically mai
...more
Jennifer Johnson
Apr 30, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: bookclub
This book was a more challenging read for me- harder to follow and grasp the general understanding the author is aiming at. (Not a great first book club book... I hope I don't sound like an idiot when I'm talking about it.)

The story begins with a murder- and then the fallout(?) in the lives of the individuals effected. The father, who can't seem to forgive himself, the daughter who embraces her dead mother's spirit and the other duaughter who wants to erase her memory entirely. It also vaguely f
...more
lori
Mar 24, 2014 rated it liked it
I liked this book at times but the style of writing, the magical/santeria elements, and some of the loose ends left were not really my cup of tea. The book provided some interesting insight into the lives, cultures, and mindsets of Cubans living on the island and contrasts it with those who made it to Miami both historically and more contemporarily. I was only really drawn to one or two of the characters and found it difficult to relate but that may have been a personal preference as I was irrit ...more
Vilja
Sep 25, 2010 rated it liked it
I can't decide for sure how I feel about this one. The writing drew me into the lives of the family members, and her representation of memory was intriguing. I just hated all of the characters, with the exception of maybe Ignacio. I felt like I SHOULD like Reina, but I couldn't. I hated everything about Blanca, in particular. I get tired of reading stories about "strong" women who are either crazy or completely heartless and cruel. Surely there is some middle ground between this and the "angel o ...more
Ivy
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A sultry story, as langorous and lush as the Havana and Miami settings it depicts. Two sisters live two different lives in Cuba and the US, but they both reach back to a shared past for direction and explanation. When events bring them together, their shared questions force action to find answers.

Christina Garcia is a master of detail, well familiar with life in both locales. She offers an insiders view of life as a Cuban exile and as a Cuban. Her story is full of the tastes, sounds, sensations,
...more
Mike
May 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: revolutions
The story of Cuba is told through the memories of Reina and Constancia Aguero, and a few memoirs from their father. Ignacio, the father, tells about Cuba that was, a vibrant beautiful land Constancia tells of the bitter Cuban-Americans still longing for the land of their youth. And Reina shows some of Cuba of the 90s, stoic and downtrodden. Through it all you see the changes in the reflected in the wildlife of Cuba. You also relive generations of family history and memories with the Agueros. The ...more
Ashley
Mar 06, 2017 rated it liked it
(Per usual) I didn't like the characters. Plot made it hard to stop reading though. Cool view of Cuban culture and science. The perspectives, time and place changes were interesting. I'd give it 3.5 if I could.
Chris
May 15, 2009 rated it it was ok
Overall rather slow moving. Never really cared for the characters. Ending was odd. There were many parts that didn't have any resolution. Did Ignacio murder Blanca intentionally? Is Reina pregnant? (At 48?). Is Dulcita dying of cancer, suffering from STD, pregnant or going thru menopause? Is Isabel crazy now, like her grandmother, Blanca? What was deal with the crazy fish bite on Blancas heel, and bite on isabels hand and the mark on baby raku? Was the fragment of bone that Blanca kept in the po ...more
Michelle Wood
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nikki Handros
This is the story of two Cuban sisters, estranged for 30 years -- one living in Cuba, the other in the United States.
The two are quite different, shaped in separate ways by their childhood and disparate memories of how their parents lived and died.
Rather than being the story of the early Cuban exile community from the 1950's and 1960's, this tale mostly takes place in the early 1990's -- even later than the Mariel boatlift that saw so many of Cuba's unwanted and criminal element dumped on our sh
...more
Jessica
Oct 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
This is a tough one to summarize. Constancia and Reina are sisters, but Constancia left Cuba as a young woman and sold cosmetics in New York, while Reina stayed and served as an electrician for the revolution. Both women are haunted by the memory of their father and the mysterious death of their mother, Blanca.

The story bounces back and forth among the sisters, their parents and Reina's daughter, Dulcita, who has decamped to Madrid with an older man. Meanwhile, Reina is recovering from a lightni
...more
Molly
Jul 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(3.5/5)

"Constancia considered him a hazard, like languor or sunstroke, and resisted his contagion. But it only drove him toward her all the more. The day Gonzalo took her hand, he left a live stain. It colonized her arm, overpowered her heart. Constancia and he shattered all language their first month together. Then Gonzalo had nothing left to say." (76)

"Meanwhile, roses arrive for Reina by the dozens, red and humming, as if invisible microphones were recording their decay. Constancia's apartmen
...more
Lauren
Feb 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ruth
Aug 25, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recently-read
There is plenty I liked about this book. The pair of sister-protagonists is unforgettable, & the landscapes are sumptuous. The Cuban natural history (which I assume has some basis in fact) is fascinating, as are the glimpses into recent-contemporary Cuban society both on the island & in Miami.

The storytelling style always held me at a distance from the characters, so I can't say it is my favorite kind of book, the kind that hooks me at a deep level & makes me laugh & cry with the
...more
Shannon
May 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't know, Cristina Garcia is just such a lovely writer. Her writing is like a sensual, sexy, voluptuous woman with a robust appetite--that is the only way I know how to describe it. It's pleasurable, it's sexy, it's funny, it's beautiful, it's informative--I could go on and on. Her books are like a vacation. I had a good friend read this while in Hawaii. She said it was, indeed, the perfect book to read on the beach. I will always, ALWAYS be a sucker for delicious fiction and, for me, no one ...more
Laurie
Sep 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of magical realism and/or of Cuba
Just-right magical realism that works for the story. There is a mystery within the story, but it is not a mystery novel. Constancia lives in New York City, having created a successful line of cosmetics. Her estranged sister Reina, the electrician, remains in Cuba. Reina is sexual, sizzling hot - even before she was struck by lightning while perched in a tree. Lovely, rich, evocative writing. I've read this twice. Yum.
Carol Hunter
Nov 06, 2007 rated it really liked it
Since I am fascinated with latin cultures, this book about 2 estranged Cuban sisters was a compelling book. Riena is a tall, hypnotically beautiful member of the revolution. Constancia a petite , beauty expert, who lives in Miami and becomes haunted by the unexplained death of her mother many year earlier. The struggles of these sisters who were raised in dramatically different, but still Cuban cultures, caused me to be drawn into their story.
Kateri
Jul 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: new-fiction
I met Christina Garcia at Northwestern and was talking to her about writing and inspiration - she asked me what my major was, I told her engineering, we all laughed. What ever happened to my writing... or my engineering for that matter?? I might need to get back on the former - probably not the latter :) I found Christina Garcia's insight into Miami Latin culture very entertaining, I will always enjoy her novels.
Shannon
Mar 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just recommended this book to someone as a #1 vacation read and realized I have never reviewed this book. Egads!! Just because it's a vacation read doesn't mean I think it's trashy. Maybe just a smidge, but in the classiest way possible. It's been so long since I've read this, it's difficult for me to remember the book. What I do remember is that it had me swooning the whole way through. Cristina Garcia is a gorgeous writer. I think I need to re-read this very soon.
Rachel
Oct 16, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the prose of this book and the weird biologist father's reminiscing about catching and cataloging Cuban specimens. I wasn't such a fan of the bizarre sexually related (?) scenes, but I guess I understand that Garcia exaggerated some stereotypes and slightly changed them to make a point about widespread beliefs about Cubans.
Marjie
Jul 08, 2012 rated it liked it
I picked this up at a beach house and was mesmerized by the various characters, descriptions of Cuba (past and present), language, and magic realism. However, when I returned home (and waited for it from the library) I was frustrated by the lack of follow-through and ambiguity. Perhaps if I had read it all at once I would have enjoyed it more.
Lila
Apr 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: magical-realism
Like her first novel Dreaming in Cuban, the Aguero Sisters also follows the lives of various Cubans, 2 sisters, one living in New York and Miami the other who is still in Cuba and their father, a scientist pre-revolution Cuba. I liked it slightly less than Dreaming in Cuba just because I did not like the characters as much, but I still would highly recommend it.
Amy
Feb 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Like Dreaming in Cuban, this book gives us a glimpse into both Cuban and Cuban-American culture - and somehow without politicizing them - I haven't decided if that's good or not. I like the human, individual stories, but I also crave more political perspective, especially when it comes to Cuba. I miss the magical realism of Dreaming in Cuban - there is some, but I was expecting more.
Helene Slowik
Feb 06, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: oprf-book-club
Story is told in different voices - sometimes confusing. The self-admiration of the Cuban sister is amazing, even strong after the scars of an accident cover her body. The US sister is consumed by her beauty products and the 'miracles' they perform. Family secrets are finally spoken, Interesting cultural information.
Katie
Jul 31, 2009 rated it liked it
This book was all about character development & the complicated relationship between sisters. I enjoyed the beautiful writing but found the story to be a bit slow (because it involves the daily activities of the sisters...and how they relate to one another after 30 years apart). I would recommend it as a quality read, but this is not a beach book or something to read quickly over a weekend!
kathryn
Oct 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Miami and Cuba-i don't believe they exist. mystical magical places...a story of a mystery of history -what to believe and what to hide. Storytelling from all the characters and some ridiculous occurrences. lovely and heart warming and heart breaking
Sarah
Tal vez mi español no es tan bien. Creo que no entendía las sutilidades de esta historia. Me gusta mucho historias de hermanas adultas, y Reina y Constancia son carácteres muy distintas. Creo que sería una buena película, sin las secciones del Ignacio (no son muy interestante para mí).
Terry Tschann Skelton
This was one of those books that leaves me unsatisfied--I felt I never really understood the characters--they seemed to operate from places I've never been and the author was unable to describe to me. Cultural gap, maybe? Or is the story too much of an allegory for my literal mind?
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After working for Time Magazine as a researcher, reporter, and Miami bureau chief, García turned to writing fiction. Her first novel, Dreaming in Cuban (1992), received critical acclaim and was a finalist for the National Book Award. She has since published her novels The Agüero Sisters (1997) and Monkey Hunting (2003), and has edited books of Cuban and other Latin American literature. Her fourth ...more
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“She wonders if memory is little more than this: a series of erasure and perfected selections.” 0 likes
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