I posted the following review on Amazon and Goodreads. This is a book that deserves attention.
“The Coconut Latitudes” by Rita M. Gardner is an emotional journey into the life of the author whose father moves the family to a small village in the Dominican Republic. Ms. Gardner, five at the time of the relocation, spends lonely days being home-schooled at the farm her father has inherited (“Cocoloco”) and only occasionally interacts with other English-speaking children brought over by visiting friends. The “Paradise” the father has promised the family turns out to be far from it. Evenings are spent with the author witnessing her father’s alcohol-fueled rampages and watching her mother cower at his verbal abuses addressed mostly at the older daughter, Berta.
As a teenager, with her home-schooling over, the author is sent away to a boarding school in the United States. Because of the political situation in the Dominican Republic, the country is ruled by the ruthless dictator Rafael Trujillo, she’s not able to return home as planned. The author describes those days of uncertainty with such passion that we suffer alongside her. Perhaps because I too had lived in a country ruled by a dictator, and I too had longed to return to it when it was impossible to do so, her experience became mine, bringing tears to my eyes.
“The Coconut Latitudes” is a beautiful book filled with evocative language. When the author returns as an adult to the farm of her youth, we not only see the scenery, the “paisaje,” but the little girl who spent her days in that corner of the world trying to imagine a future of success that would eventually become hers. “The ‘finca’ blends in now with the rest, boundaries and color blurred by time and age.”
Have you ever wanted to write a memoir about a particular event that shaped your life?
Did you find it difficult? Did something stop you from achieving your goal?