Overall, this was a very satisfying read. The story involves a Cuban family, who have some members living as immigrants in the 'States and others remaining in Cuba, and, to a lesser extent, people who are somehow related to the family. The book is narrated by each of the characters involved, so the audience not only gets acquainted with the characters by their own dialogue, but also learns how the other characters judge them. Judging others is quite aa significant part of the story because the family does not have a unanimous political and ideological opinion, as well as a mutual agreement about how life should be led. This explains why some of the members have become expatriates.
I really liked this book because of the unequivocal and clear way it portrayed immigration. I have read several books about immigrants from different countries, but I never could perfectly relate to the characters as well as I related to these. The main themes of this book were probably emotional separation, physical separation, familial disagreement and the effects of these combined. If I write a history of my own family, I would probably find that the recurring themes would not be too different. Amazingly, I could match the personalities of each of the characters to those of members of my own family. In short, this book reassured me that in real life, immigration is not a romantic business, especially for families that are divided in opinion. Everyone is afflicted. However, the more sensitive and emotionally aware ones, portrayed as Felicia in the novel, are extremely vulnerable to the pain they feel.
The character I related to most was Pilar. She emigrated from her native country at a young age, similarly to me, and she struggles with the idea of her origin and identity, as well as her purpose in life as a young expatriate. She is emotionally sturdy, youthful, and passionately arrogant, but the question that relentlessly causes her to falter is: "Do I belong more to the U. S or more to Cuba?". Reading about her thoughts and emotions really helped to think more clearly about my own.
"Sometimes, I ask myself whether I have really experienced my adventures. I think of Flaubert, who spent most of his adult life in a French village, or about Emily Dickinson, whose poems reflect the rhythmic ringing of church bells. And then I think that, maybe, the biggest journey I have to complete is through my conscience. But then I think of Gauguin, and D.H Lawrence, and Ernest Hemingway, who, possibly fished with abuelo Guillermo in Cuba, and come to the conclusion that it is necessary to live in this world, to be able to say something good about it . At this very moment, as I sit at a table on the second floor of the library and look at the Barnard College yard, the dead grass outside and the Broadway cars rushing past, I feel that something is happening in me. What exactly- I do not know. I'm still waiting for when I begin to really live in the present."
One of the main aspects of Garcia's prose that impressed me, when I was reading "A Handbook To Luck", was the lucidity of the narration by each of the several characters, and the consummate manner in which the strands merged into one another and wrapped up in the ending. The prose in "Dreaming In Cuban" was not much different in style to the aforementioned work, although I felt that the influence of Ernest Hemingway's writing was much more evident in this work than in the later work. The particular manner in which the characters revealed their personalities, fears and wounds seemed (at least to me) to be reminiscent of Hemingway. Plus, the ending, which was set in the sea exactly like in "A Handbook To Luck", was triumphant (although much more morbid in this book) and ambiguous, compelling one to reflect on the past events in the text and link it to the ending. I have only now realised that Garcia was evocating Hemingway's technique in writing the plot and ending in both books because of the slightly tacky way she approached the ending in "Dreaming In Cuban". It became quite obvious then that the book was not a 100% successful take on Hemingway. In "A Handbook To Luck", the ending seemed to perfectly eke out every stage of the story, while this was lacking in "Dreaming In Cuban". This makes the overall theme of the book a topic of dispute.