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Released: January 12th 2021
Genre: Historical Fiction
“It was a fascinating and heartbreaking story. I just wish the execution would’ve captivated me in the way I was hoping for.”~ Under the Covers
I picked up this book because it gave me vibes of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and I absolutely love that book. What I didn’t realize was that the Cuban actress and daughter in this book were real life people and this story is based on real life events. The daughter met the author some 20 years ago and agreed to a series of interviews and to allow the author to tell this story as close to her recollection as possible. In a way to honor the star her mother was.
Estelita Rodriguez, a singer that fled Cuba with her mother to try and find fame in NYC found herself instead with a movie contract and starring in Westerns. She married four times. She had a daughter. She faced misogyny and racism. But she was determined to make it, no matter the cost. That cost was usually paid by her daughter Nina, who didn’t always have a mom to make her feel cared for or safe.
Lets get the trigger warnings out of the way. ALL.OF.THEM. Seriously. This book was a series of unfortunate events and it’s unnecessarily graphic. Sexual assault, drug addiction, child neglect, domestic abuse, kidnapping. The list goes on. This was not an easy book to get through. I kept hoping for a moment of light, for some character growth to happen, and that was just never the case. The bad just kept on coming.
Most importantly though I honestly spent most of this book disliking Estelita because she’s just a terrible mother. Any time a job offer would come up, her daughter was her last priority. When a new love interest was around, same thing. Even when the worst happens to her daughter, she’s not the hands on mother Nina needed. And quite often she’s upfront about that to her own daughter, telling her she’s not her priority. I felt for Nina because she was just a child in a horrible situation. Or series of them.
While this could’ve been like Evelyn Hugo, the potential was there, for me the author didn’t get me to fall in love with these flawed characters or their story. It was a fascinating and heartbreaking story. I just wish the execution would’ve captivated me in the way I was hoping for. Knowing that this is based on real life though, I’m glad I read it.
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