Passport: Florida: Reclaiming Paris by Fabiola Santiago
“Men are like perfumes. In an instant, with nothing but a whiff of judgment, I either love them or discard them.”
Marisol is an exuberant poet and historical archivist living in contemporary Miami. Like her adopted city, she’s a sensual free spirit. Born in Cuba and transplanted at an early age to Florida, she nurses a nostalgia for the legendary island birthplace she barely remembers. She also harbors a passion for scents, donning a new perfume each time she takes on a new relationship. After the death of her beloved grandmother and a series of sensuous but disappointing romances, Marisol realizes that she must break free from the shackles of her history, abandon lost causes, and embrace the only real home she’s ever had — her own wandering heart. Freed at last from yearning for old Havana, “the Paris of the Caribbean,” this romantic exile must embrace a new life. Although she cannot reclaim Havana, she can experience the real thing — Paris — so Marisol sets out with an open ticket to chart the course of her future.
Bridging the divide between the effervescent Miami of today and the mystical Cuba of yesteryear, Reclaiming Paris is a paean to place and memory, rich with humor, passion, and unforgettable characters.
This is one of those books with a somewhat misleading title. I actually picked this book up for our Passport to France Feature in February based only on the title. I was in a rush and saw the book, read the title and just bought it. I am notorious for being impulsive, sometimes it doesn’t always pan out the way I planned. Luckily for me, I saved the book because it is actually perfect for Passport to Florida. Why you ask? Let me elaborate.
This book really embraces the Cuban influences that make south Florida-particularly Miami what it is today. The descriptions of the setting and it’s people are as hot and sexy as the Miami weather and nightlife. The heroine of Marisol a Cuban born poet/writer living in Miami is relatable to many young women of any ethnicity.
Marisol, like many women, is searching for her true self and recalling how various relationships with men have impacted her. From her college years in rural Iowa (which I totally related to) to her present relationship turned sour. Readers will be consumed with Marisol’s journey of self actualization and romance lovers will love her steamy recounts of intimacy with men.
Underneath the general plot of a woman discovering herself and uniting her past with her present is the story of a culture and the immigrant people that are very much a part of America but often times forgotten or dismissed as secondary. What I discovered was an incredibly rich book that showcases the passion of the Cuban and Latino people that have made Miami their home and continue to add flavor to the American patchwork that I adore so much.
About The Author:
Born in Matanzas, Cuba, in 1959, Fabiola grew up enamored of her family’s nostalgic stories and the memory of the softest sands and the bluest beach in the world, Varadero. Exiled to the United States in 1969 with her family on one of the historic Freedom Flights, Fabiola has been a writer and editor for The Miami Herald since 1980. Her award-winning stories and essays on arts, culture and identity have been published in several magazines and anthologies in the United States and abroad. She was the founding city editor and managing editor of the Spanish-language El Nuevo Herald from 1987 to 1993, and in 2001, shared in a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the federal government seizure of the child Elian Gonzalez. A graduate of the University of Florida, Fabiola is The Miami Herald’s visual arts writer. Read more about her work at www.reclaimingparis.com and www.fabiolasantiago.com.