cover image Are We Ever Our Own

Are We Ever Our Own

Gabrielle Lucille Fuentes. BOA Editions, $17 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-950774-61-6

Fuentes’s haunting and lyrical collection (after The Sleeping World) explores Cuba’s legacy of wars and far-flung diaspora. In “Ana Mendieta Haunts the Block,” Cuban American artist Ana’s ghost haunts a museum located on a former a military site in Marfa, Tex., and forms a special connection with a teenaged member of the cleaning crew. “The Burial of Fidelia Armando Castell,” set in U.S.-occupied Cuba, depicts the fateful misadventure of teenage children Fidelia and Rosa, whose wealthy families live together in a grand mansion. One night, Fidelia smuggles the anxious Rosa out to a dance, leading to a series of tragic events that forever links their families. “Palm Chess,” about a filmmaker’s travels from Miami to Havana in the 1940s, combines contemplative journal entries with excerpts of an impressionistic screenplay. In “Two-Gallon Heart,” 12-year-old Frankie summons her mother’s ghost, who is said to have died before she was born in their small prairie town and returned to her physical state to give birth. Now, Frankie’s mother returns again, “limbs like willow branches, lithe and pulled back, ready to snap,” and wants to take Frankie back from her caretaker. In luminous prose, Fuentes offers insights on themes of belonging, national identity, and family. With these finely crafted and wide-ranging stories, Fuentes’s talent is on full display. (May)