Blindsided by her mother's mysterious death, Nina Rodriguez navigates the troubling, opulent memories of their life together and discovers how much Estelita sacrificed to live the American dream on her own terms. Based on true events.
A difficult book to grade. Startling, original, frank and powerful, it spellbinds and breaks a reader’s heart ... a highly unusual book. Based on interviews with Nina, Burdick fictionalizes a world where the poignant and almost painfully intimate double portrait the reader receives of both Nina and her mother is entirely unique to the scope of the realm of a novel ... a fascinating, lacerating story. For some, it will be one too difficult to read. Others – who might know about Estelita or the difficulties of being a Cuban woman in America trying to make a success of her life – will be spellbound. I found it to be wonderfully engrossing, heartbreaking, and ultimately life-affirming.
A novel that weaves together the voices of mother and daughter into a tender narrative, painting a picture of how one woman’s fight to live the American dream cannot be just about that woman but must involve all those around her ... tinged by the fact that it’s a remembrance. It is occasionally slow but always beautiful, feeling elegiac even during the first chapters. I was fascinated by both women and found myself sinking into their voices, falling into their lives, and trying to see their relationship from both sides. Serena Burdick did a wonderful job of capturing a time long past and telling a story that at once embraces a whole time and pinpoints one particular relationship.
A poignant and gripping account of the life of Cuban actress Estelita Rodriquez (1928–1966) through letters between Estelita and her daughter, Nina ... With great skill, Burdick weaves a heartbreaking narrative of a star’s rise and fall, and whose unexplained death at 37 deeply affects her daughter. Estelita’s sacrifices and determination as a mother and an artist make for a deeply affecting tragedy.