Dear First Love
A NovelBook - 2002
Leaving her poverty-stricken life in Havana to search for her first true love, Danae returns to the countryside area where she met the woman she seeks, and their subsequent relationship proves challenging to both women and to Danae's family.
Blackwell North Amer
Zoé Valdés is one of Cuba's most original and imaginative writers. In Dear First Love, her third novel to appear in English, she spins a tale of one womans spiritual and sexual awakening under the soul-destroying Castro regime.
The numbing rhythm of daily life in poverty-stricken Havana has deadened Danae's mind and spirit. On the verge of a breakdown, she unceremoniously leaves Havana without explanation to her family. In search of her first true love, Danae retreats into the countryside of her adolescence, where the government of Fidel Castro had sent her and other teenagers in the late 1970s to work in the fields under a corrupt and sadistic overseer. It was here, surrounded by a natural world infused with spiritual wonders, that Danae met and fell in love with Tierra Fortuna Munda, a campesino girl her own age. And here the reader falls into the magic of Danae's late childhood, as a wooden suitcase, an ancient ceiba tree, a manatee, even light itself, narrate the gritty, irreverent, erotic, sometimes comic, often tragic life of the young adults in the work camps.
When the adult Danae finds Tierra, their lives are transformed, their love and its mysteries reborn. However, their return to Havana proves to be the ultimate test of love, not only for Danae and Tierra, but also for Danae's desperate family.
Dear First Love is a hymn to Cuba and to the soul and spirit of that beleaguered country. In sensuous language, Zoé Valdés renders daily life in urban Cuba and in its countryside, while at the same time exploring the universal themes of love and loss.