The Price of Paradise by Susana López Rubio, translated by Achy Obejas

This is not normally my kind of romance and even though I wasn’t head over heels about it, I did enjoy this book. The Price of Paradise takes place in that long gone time in Cuba before Castro. Though it’s often romanticized, I appreciate that this story brings back the memory of how thick the mafia was down there and how that can be oppressive in a way entirely different from Communism.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m half Cuban and there are stories in my family from this time, but they didn’t live in Havana. Still, much of the culture transferred to Miami, where I grew up. Given all that, I could practically taste the food and I’ve heard a fair amount of the colloquialisms enough over the years that the book made me feel at home.

The love story it contains is complicated in ways that aren’t always enjoyable for a reader. I could have done with half the story and kept it a bit more straightforward and probably would have believed it just as much. As it is, the author went for a bit more of a theatrical ending, though just as likely as one that would have taken much less time. There are some pretty great moments in the story that make up for the complications.

I do love the dual POV, even the way it doesn’t change with every chapter like so many do. It allowed the story to progress in a way that felt natural and for the reader to stick to the more active character in a situation. At the same time, the author was good at giving both sides of some of the more crucial scenes that I really wanted it. I love the history of both protagonists.

Our protagonists in this particular story are Patricio and Gloria. They come from different ends of the world and live on different ends of “the tracks”. As with any good love story, that’s not going to stop them. In this one, I never felt solid on how it was going to end. When it did end, I loved the epilogue where we find out how things were going to go, but I could have done with it being a little sooner for our characters or without one or two bends in the road. Mostly, it made me feel sad for the protagonists more than hopeful that things will work out.

Then again, I’m fairly certain this comes from my general lack of appreciation for romance. Nothing against it, it’s just not often I find one that I fancy. This one was fun most of the time but it didn’t blow me away.

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