The Perez Family Prime –

For Twenty Years In Castro S Prisons, Juan Perez Has Dreamed Of His Family In The US Released In The Mariel Boatlift, He Goes To Find Them In Miami, A City Crayola And Bright, Like A Child S Drawing So Begins This Magical Brew Of The Absurd, The Surreal, And The Crazy Logic Of Real Life

10 thoughts on “The Perez Family

  1. says:

    Twenty years after he successfully gained control of Cuba, Fidel Castro emptied the island of its jails, insane asylums, and other so called scum of the island Known as the Mariel boat people for the port city that they launched from, thousands of unwanted Cubans as well as those fortunate to find space on a boat arrived in Miami in 1980 Much has been documented of the boat lifts and the friction between them and those Cubans who left prior to the revolution who then became successful business people Journalist turned novelist Christine Bell decided to make light of this tumultuous situation with her satirical book The P rez Family, which later became a comedic film of the same name.Juan Raul Perez had been a political prisoner in Cuba for twenty years His only crime had been to run a successful newspaper, and, while he did not take a stance himself, the paper may have printed some pro Bautista sentiments As a result, Perez was imprisoned, but not before he gained passage for his wife Carmela and their young daughter Teresa, along with Carmela s teenaged brother Angel, out of Cuba During his time in jail, Perez languished while writing passionate love letters to Carmela in hope that one day they would see each other again Some of the letters in and out of prison were censored by authorities and others by Angel, who was always jealous of the relationship between his sister and her husband.Twenty years pass and the prisons are liquidated as part of the Mariel boat lifts Perez finally gains passage to Miami but does not know if Carmela has waited for him or remarried as most of their correspondence has been pilfered by the government On the boat, Perez meets the charismatic Dorita Eva Perez, who is enad by all things American, especially John Wayne, rock and roll, and consumerism She finds out that they have the same last name and devises a plot for them to start life in the United States sooner than the rest of the boat people if a refugee is part of a family, then they will be likely to find a sponsor to start them down the path toward becoming legal American residents.At first, Dorita aka Dottie s plan seems to work With the refugees temporarily living at the Orange Bowl Stadium, Dottie finds a father and son with the last name Perez, and the new Perez family has their case expedited toward the top of the sponsor list While waiting, Dottie starts a laundry service as well as beauty salon within the camp, gaining as many quarters and dollars as she can so she can start out already immersed in capitalism Meanwhile, Juan is grateful to get out of the Orange Bowl, but his true desire is to be reunited with Carmela, not to assist Dottie in her scheming As Juan Perez is lead by his heart, Angel has been following the Marielitos movements and has a complex security system installed at Carmela s home With many plots and a varied cast of characters, Bell has created a unique premise for a novel, one that times was hilarious yet also made light of an otherwise dark episode in immigration history.Immigration is always going to be a hot button issue as long as there are immigrants and people to offer their opinions on how to proceed with immigration The P rez Family brings to light immigration from both a Cuban and Cuban American perspective and shows how people are effected differently by the same historical event While I found the book to be a light reading satire and comedic at times, I did find some of the plot lines to be either far fetched or one dimensional, especially Angel s treatment of his relationship of his brother in law Juan Perez Bell, perhaps, desired to address older immigrants views of the newer generation who was fresh off the boat yet, Angel s characterization left a sour taste in my mouth and downgraded the novel for me The P rez Family is still a fun read, especially for those looking for lighter look at an issue that is anything but, and a novel I rate 3.5 stars.

  2. says:

    A good read, but it left me feeling sad.

  3. says:

    Upon re reading this book after twenty years, I m deeply moved by its poignancy, and am keenly impressed with the power of Bell s story telling Although grounded in a specific historical time and place which the author documents beautifully, and which is significant in and of itself , this book is universal in its themes of resilience, exile and home, the experience of immigration, grief and loss, deep love, and the close relationship between reality and fantasy What is amazing about this book is that the writing is successful at both the micro and macro level the sentences are beautifully constructed, the character development is strong, and the story overall is told with skill Dottie s determination to survive is a testament to the power of life itself, and she is the heart and soul of this story However, my favorite line is when Juan Raul, who has been so disoriented and resistant to the family fantasy, suddenly enters the fantasy and justifies Felipe s behavior by explaining how he wasn t present during Felipe s formative years because he was in prison This book made me think at length about how we weave together reality and fantasy to create a sense of self and a future that we can claim our own.

  4. says:

    I m not one who insists on grinding through a book just to say I ve finished it I ve been that person, but not in years So I don t know why I finished this one It was mercifully short, and that helped.Juan Raul Perez was one of the last political prisoners freed by Castro as part of the Mariel boatlift in 1980 The fictional Perez has been messed up, to say the least, by his 20 years in prison, and his new found freedom is doubtless overwhelming at best He is on the boat with Dottie, who coincidentally shares his last name Her apparent propensity for prostitution got her a free pass to Miami She is an irrepressible plus sized woman who is convinced that she will be released from the immigration center quickly if she can demonstrate that she has a family Since she and Juan have the same last name, she insists on passing them off to immigration officials as being married He just wants to get back to the wife he hasn t seen in 20 years a wife and daughter whom he sent to America before his imprisonment As their time inside the Orange Bowl temporary detention center increases, Juan and Dottie pick up two family members a troubled young man and an old ex soldier who is clearly grappling with some kind of age related dementia.What follows is a series of misunderstandings and bumblings on the part of several characters here that make Juan s reunion far less easy than you might think it would be.There are parts of this that are memorable because of the author s talent She writes of flames of grief sizzling on a wet handkerchief, for example But I became rapidly frustrated with the direction the book was headed.

  5. says:

    I remember this time period when the boat people were coming from Cuba, but I only met a few so I wasn t personally touched by it that much This book brought home to me what it was like to leave one s life long home on short notice with almost nothing, often not knowing where your relatives were or where you would be going It was an interesting story, sometimes funny and sometimes very sad.

  6. says:

    I read this a long time ago, so I don t remember much in the way of specifics, but I do remember that I loved it I didn t realize there was a movie with Marisa Tomei I ll have to search it out I m also searching out of Bell s books.

  7. says:

    Entertaining Did not want to quit reading it.

  8. says:

    Well, the book had a lot of interesting moments but the ending was a total surprise In the movie version the ending was changed, it was a happy ending no one died violently.

  9. says:

    It was quirky and sometimes a little boring and frustrating.

  10. says:

    Tara gave me this book.