cover image Find Me in Havana

Find Me in Havana

Serena Burdick. Park Row, $17.99 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-7783-8936-1

Burdick (The Girls With No Names) delivers a poignant and gripping account of the life of Cuban actress Estelita Rodriquez (1928–1966) through letters between Estelita and her daughter, Nina. At 15, Estelita travels to New York with her mother to sing at the Copacabana. She meets Chu Chu Martinez, a famous Mexican singer, and by 18 she is married and living in Mexico with Chu Chu and their six-week-old baby, Nina. Soon, though, Chu Chu forbids her to perform again. She escapes to Los Angeles with Nina and settles in with her mother, who talks her into signing a movie deal with Republic Pictures. However, Hollywood and fame leave less time for Nina, who is sent to boarding school. In 1958, when Nina is 12 and at home on summer break, she is kidnapped by Chu Chu. What follows is a chase through Mexico and a harrowing stay in Cuba during the revolution. With great skill, Burdick weaves a heartbreaking narrative of a star’s rise and fall, and whose unexplained death at 37 deeply affects her daughter. Estelita’s sacrifices and determination as a mother and an artist make for a deeply affecting tragedy. Agent: Stephanie Delman, Sanford J. Greenburger Assoc. (Jan.)