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Waiting on Zapote Street: Love and Loss in Castro's Cuba

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This book is based on a true story. It is a highly-rated novel that marked the introduction to the literary world of its independent author, Betty Viamontes, and continues to expand its international reach. Rio and Laura, two people from opposite backgrounds, meet in Havana, Cuba in January, 1961. A single, unselfish decision to help a stranger shatters their lives. The re This book is based on a true story. It is a highly-rated novel that marked the introduction to the literary world of its independent author, Betty Viamontes, and continues to expand its international reach. Rio and Laura, two people from opposite backgrounds, meet in Havana, Cuba in January, 1961. A single, unselfish decision to help a stranger shatters their lives. The revolution they unwittingly helped solidify creates a powerful and myopic socialist government that tears them apart. Neither one of them is prepared to face the roller-coaster ride their lives become. Neither one of them could have imagined how much their love for each other would be tested, or for how long, or the impact their choices would have on their families. Also check the author's second book: "Candela's Secrets and Other Havana Stories," an anthology of vivid and engaging stories that is captivating readers in the United States and abroad.


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This book is based on a true story. It is a highly-rated novel that marked the introduction to the literary world of its independent author, Betty Viamontes, and continues to expand its international reach. Rio and Laura, two people from opposite backgrounds, meet in Havana, Cuba in January, 1961. A single, unselfish decision to help a stranger shatters their lives. The re This book is based on a true story. It is a highly-rated novel that marked the introduction to the literary world of its independent author, Betty Viamontes, and continues to expand its international reach. Rio and Laura, two people from opposite backgrounds, meet in Havana, Cuba in January, 1961. A single, unselfish decision to help a stranger shatters their lives. The revolution they unwittingly helped solidify creates a powerful and myopic socialist government that tears them apart. Neither one of them is prepared to face the roller-coaster ride their lives become. Neither one of them could have imagined how much their love for each other would be tested, or for how long, or the impact their choices would have on their families. Also check the author's second book: "Candela's Secrets and Other Havana Stories," an anthology of vivid and engaging stories that is captivating readers in the United States and abroad.

30 review for Waiting on Zapote Street: Love and Loss in Castro's Cuba

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    "Waiting on Zapote Street: Love and Loss in Castro's Cuba" is the best book ever! Once I started reading the book I couldn't put it down. I'm an avid reader and enjoy historical fiction, even more so with this book because the writing style flows so well when telling about life in Cuba from multiple family member's perspective. The author's style of writing and content brings the characters to life. I felt like I was in a movie with the characters instead of just reading a book. I hope this stor "Waiting on Zapote Street: Love and Loss in Castro's Cuba" is the best book ever! Once I started reading the book I couldn't put it down. I'm an avid reader and enjoy historical fiction, even more so with this book because the writing style flows so well when telling about life in Cuba from multiple family member's perspective. The author's style of writing and content brings the characters to life. I felt like I was in a movie with the characters instead of just reading a book. I hope this story becomes a movie, it's so enjoyable, thought provoking, and emotional reading about this family's journey and it helps me understand what my Cuban friends have experienced. Thank you Betty Viamontes for sharing this story! I'm looking forward to hearing more from this wonderful author.

  2. 5 out of 5

    NINGARD

    I was unaware of the hardships many families were subjected to living in Castro's Cuba. I truly enjoyed reading this book and even had tears in my eyes especially when reading the last few chapters. Thank you for letting us into your life and sharing your family's story. I was unaware of the hardships many families were subjected to living in Castro's Cuba. I truly enjoyed reading this book and even had tears in my eyes especially when reading the last few chapters. Thank you for letting us into your life and sharing your family's story.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Linda Murray

    Great story, easy reading, very enlightening

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dania Nasca

    WAITING ON ZAPOTE STREET GENRE: Fiction based on true events. I spent the first twelve years of my life in communist Cuba, so I'm very familiar with what life was like living in Fidel's Utopia. I left Cuba in 1970 on a US-sponsored Freedom Flight. The author chose to write the book as a book of fiction. I know what life was like in the 1960s and Cuba’s path to utter destruction (thanks to Fidel) in the decades to come. There was nothing romantic about it. Life became hell. Everything that belonged WAITING ON ZAPOTE STREET GENRE: Fiction based on true events. I spent the first twelve years of my life in communist Cuba, so I'm very familiar with what life was like living in Fidel's Utopia. I left Cuba in 1970 on a US-sponsored Freedom Flight. The author chose to write the book as a book of fiction. I know what life was like in the 1960s and Cuba’s path to utter destruction (thanks to Fidel) in the decades to come. There was nothing romantic about it. Life became hell. Everything that belonged to Cubans was taken away, including restaurants. Inviting anyone for dinner or a cup of coffee was impossible due to the meager rations, la libreta. I wanted to read this book because I wanted to learn more about the Mariel Boatlift experience. I had heard personal accounts from family friends who were lucky to leave Cuba during the lift, and this book confirmed their stories. In 1980 Fidel Castro allowed approximately 125,000 Cubans to leave the island via what came to be known as the Mariel Boatlift. Castro didn't make it easy, of course. He would show his brutality until the last boat left. In the 1960s, Castro would show the Civil Rights struggle in the US on television, ferocious dogs thrown at black Americans. He had no problem doing the same thing to the men, women, and children waiting in the departure camp "El Mosquito." Those of us who left Cuba on the Freedom Flights, looked out the plane window to see our homeland one more time. Those who left on the fishing boats during the Mariel Boatlift, looked back to see Cuba one more time, their eyes fixed on the coast until the lights disappeared. All of us then looked ahead, wondering what the future would bring. Our parents were forever brokenhearted.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    A very good friend of mine recently completed this memoir-style book about her and her family’s life which I found to be an incredible and insightful story about life in Cuba. My friend’s name is Betty Viamontes and she is a Tampa resident who has lived in the area for approximately 35 years. Betty and her mother, sister and brother arrived to Florida together during the Mariel boatlift emigration on April 28, 1980. Much of the book is about what happened to her family in the years before this v A very good friend of mine recently completed this memoir-style book about her and her family’s life which I found to be an incredible and insightful story about life in Cuba. My friend’s name is Betty Viamontes and she is a Tampa resident who has lived in the area for approximately 35 years. Betty and her mother, sister and brother arrived to Florida together during the Mariel boatlift emigration on April 28, 1980. Much of the book is about what happened to her family in the years before this very impactful day (this April marks the 35th anniversary of the Mariel boatlifts). The majority of the book is based on Betty’s memories of life in Cuba as well as her mother’s journals that her mom kept over the years. The journals that Betty’s mom had written were kept in an old suitcase by her mom and were found by Betty and her siblings on the day their mother passed away, along with letters and notes to family members. The book was initially started after her Mom’s cancer diagnosis about 10 years before her mom passed away. After Betty lost her mom, it was too difficult to continue writing, but after the needed time to heal, she again was inspired, especially after she was able to read the journals which she had not been able to touch for about two years. Betty recently finished the book at the end of February and the reviews since completion have been nothing short of excellent. In addition, with today’s changing political relationship with Cuba, the book is a great read for those who have curiosity about Cuban life and culture or for those who one day would like to visit Cuba.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Fernando

    I thought this was a very interesting read. The love story was heartfelt, but more so, it is a very clear depiction of the struggles of the Cuban people having gone through such cruel separation of loved ones and the story of those who stayed behind in Havana. In my opinion, Havana, the city itself, was this most critical character of the story going from what was a beautiful and thriving city to a stagnant and forgotten jewel. Laura's story parallels so much with the actual city of Havana. She I thought this was a very interesting read. The love story was heartfelt, but more so, it is a very clear depiction of the struggles of the Cuban people having gone through such cruel separation of loved ones and the story of those who stayed behind in Havana. In my opinion, Havana, the city itself, was this most critical character of the story going from what was a beautiful and thriving city to a stagnant and forgotten jewel. Laura's story parallels so much with the actual city of Havana. She is a young beautiful and happy woman, who endures the many years of suffering and struggle under Fidel's communism. She slowly transforms into the aging woman who is consumed with hardship and survival. Yet she is able to keep her inner beauty protected like a treasure in hopes that she will someday reunite with her husband. In same way that the city of Havana has its beauty hidden like a treasure behind the years superficial decay. It is a beautiful city waiting for that moment of freedom and reunification with its people. This is a great story. I now feel like know so much more of the history of Cuba and that of its people without having yet visited the island.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Allen Luo

    I too came from a communist country of China when I was 16. Unlike the characters in the book, I was fortunate enough to have both of my parents' love and support. After reading this book, it really made me appreciate the "normal" things we take for granted, from a can of soda, ability to buy food we want from a store, to not have to be limited by food rationing (I remember this from childhood), freedom of expression, religion, and a simple telephone call. I will think twice before I complain ab I too came from a communist country of China when I was 16. Unlike the characters in the book, I was fortunate enough to have both of my parents' love and support. After reading this book, it really made me appreciate the "normal" things we take for granted, from a can of soda, ability to buy food we want from a store, to not have to be limited by food rationing (I remember this from childhood), freedom of expression, religion, and a simple telephone call. I will think twice before I complain about any first world problems, such as when the restaurant food isn't to my expectation or why my Apple Facetime picture quality is not 1080P perfect! The main female character's love, courage, dedication and selfless sacrifice for her children and family future and freedom is a true amazing tale of the "American Dream."

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kayrene

    Betty Viamontes writes with such clarity and skill. Absolutely loved this story. It is heartbreaking to watch her struggle with life in Cuba, and away from her husband. Loved their determination. This book is a first person account of what life was like after Castro overtook the country. Took away their land, their businesses, their freedom. It is heartbreaking to learn about the true pain that was caused, and even more so to know that it even continues all these many years later. Just horrible Betty Viamontes writes with such clarity and skill. Absolutely loved this story. It is heartbreaking to watch her struggle with life in Cuba, and away from her husband. Loved their determination. This book is a first person account of what life was like after Castro overtook the country. Took away their land, their businesses, their freedom. It is heartbreaking to learn about the true pain that was caused, and even more so to know that it even continues all these many years later. Just horrible to think entire lives are wasted in such bad conditions. Wonderful, wonderful ending; you just wanted to cheer for them! This is a treasure of a story, and it will be one of those books I keep forever. Thank you, Betty Viamontes!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Greg Girard

    When hopes and dreams are dashed, only character and courage will see this desperate family through. Set in the early days of Castro’s Cuba, we get a fresh perspective and new insight into this tumultuous time. A remarkable story of strength, determination, and the power of love. Historical fiction with a strong tie to current events.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Riley

    I enjoy reading history. This book not only details the story of a family separated by politics, but if takes readers through various historical periods, including the day that Castro came to power. The author did an excellent job placing readers on the street of Havana. Excellent read!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    This novel is one by which every turn of the page invites the reader into the house on Zapote Street and into the heart of a woman who selflessly sacrifices everything for her family. It is a novel that shows the strength, love, courage, and determination of a mother, during the harshest of times, to give her children, what is the right of all human beings, the chance for freedom and opportunity. As a reader, you will route for Laura, and be behind her and her family every step of the way.

  12. 5 out of 5

    AnneMarie

    Interesting for an easy insight into Cuba - I found it difficult to find historical fiction based in the country - but the book is poorly written and the pacing is off.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ladiibbug

    #1 @ PBS

  14. 4 out of 5

    lilian carballo

    Apasionante...yo de santos suarez..calle rabi cerca de zapotes...me transporte en tiempo y espacio...vivia en cuba cuando el exodo del mariel...fui de las que no pudo salir y vivi aquel horror casi una guerra civil orquestada...por ese grupo de desarmados que aun siguen haciendo daño y exportando su maleficio....me bebi esta historia en una noche y media mañana...no podia parar...felicito a su autora..protagonista tambien de esta historia Apasionante...soy de santos suarez..calle rabi cerca de za Apasionante...yo de santos suarez..calle rabi cerca de zapotes...me transporte en tiempo y espacio...vivia en cuba cuando el exodo del mariel...fui de las que no pudo salir y vivi aquel horror casi una guerra civil orquestada...por ese grupo de desarmados que aun siguen haciendo daño y exportando su maleficio....me bebi esta historia en una noche y media mañana...no podia parar...felicito a su autora..protagonista tambien de esta historia Apasionante...soy de santos suarez..calle rabi cerca de zapotes...me transporte en tiempo y espacio...vivia en cuba cuando el exodo del mariel...fui de las que no pudo salir vivi el horror de casi una guerra civil orquestada por el grupo de desarmados...que desgobierna..mi pais y pretende expandir esa desgracia a pueblos hermanos. Me bebi el libro en una noche y media mañana..no podia parar quede atrapada...felicito a su autora y tambien protagonista de esta historia dura y real.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Antoine Barthestation

    This book offers an inside look into a family during the Castro years. It's well written and takes a deeper meaning when you know it is the true story of the author (Laura, the main character is her mother). I put only 3 stars because I liked the book, but I was more looking for a novel that explains the change through Castro. Even though some of those changes are explained in this book, obviously, it is not what transpires most. The book concentrates too much on family life and what A PARTICULAR This book offers an inside look into a family during the Castro years. It's well written and takes a deeper meaning when you know it is the true story of the author (Laura, the main character is her mother). I put only 3 stars because I liked the book, but I was more looking for a novel that explains the change through Castro. Even though some of those changes are explained in this book, obviously, it is not what transpires most. The book concentrates too much on family life and what A PARTICULAR family had to go through, rather than the real, economic, social, and political changes of the island during that time. One again, it is a great book, well written, but not what I was really looking for. Thus the 3 stars.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Carmen Delgado

    Lagrimas y orgullo. Lagrimas de dolor por mi pueblo por las vidas truncadas y tanto orgullo de ellos,que es imposible describir. El libro es maravilloso, me ha hecho llorar y vivir la vida de Laura y Tania,gracias por la oportunidad de vivir el amor y la experiencia de Laura y Río gracias por hacerme conocer el dolor de tanta gente. Un libro maravilloso, me ha hecho llorar y amarlo.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    Loved this book, very well written and based on the author and her family's account of the struggles of her own family and that of the Cuban people during the times of the revolution and beyond where eventually they left their beloved homeland in search of a better life, one of opportunities and freedom Loved this book, very well written and based on the author and her family's account of the struggles of her own family and that of the Cuban people during the times of the revolution and beyond where eventually they left their beloved homeland in search of a better life, one of opportunities and freedom

  18. 5 out of 5

    Susana Mueller

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mike

  20. 4 out of 5

    Shana Kim

  21. 4 out of 5

    Julie Rothfeld

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Rigdon

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Marz

  24. 4 out of 5

    Melinda Nancoo

  25. 5 out of 5

    Marcia Pastorek

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Utesch

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mary Grunewald

  28. 5 out of 5

    Trish

  29. 4 out of 5

    Laura M.

  30. 5 out of 5

    anna

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