Review of Alicia Maldonado: A Mother Lost by Ardain Isma
This modern, aristocratic book portrays real-life events and how hard it is to deal with them, overcome them, or even struggle with them. Such is life, anywhere you put it, in the Caribbean or otherwise. Many people might have problems dealing with the material in this book. But it's involving, shocking, yet mellifluously elegant in its portrayal of a wealthy woman's humble and downtrodden existence. She cannot fathom the dark side of life, and in her pure yet misguided rebellion, she becomes a metaphoric symbol for humanity in general--not to mention impoverished, yet mysteriously happy.
Professor Ardain Isma's excellent first novel painstakingly describes the fact-based life story of Alicia Maldonado, a young, aristrocratic white woman born in Cuba to a land-owning family, members of a seemingly elite class. Alicia arrives in Haiti with her parents and older brother Mario after fleeing Cuba, following the political turmoil within the Batista regime. But what she discovers there is that, in its own way, there is no such thing as fleeing. What her family left behind had to catch up with her slowly, surely, like a creeping plague of sophisticated reality that could only draw to a bad conclusion...
She marries her next-door neighbor and best friend, Richard Laveaux, the son of a rich mulatto family, in spite of her mother's protests. The marriage is happy at first, and Alicia enjoys working for the family business and raising their two children. But the altogether too soon deaths of her father and her alcoholic husband raise questions in her mind about the sanity and purpose of her carefully kept upper-class existence.
Was she really meant to be happy, or is something else, a mysterious fate much darker and deeper, in store for her?
Unable to cope with her problems, Alicia leaves Haiti with her youngest child, Jean-Marie, and vanishes without a trace. None of her family or friends knows her exact whereabouts, and a prolonged and heated search for her begins. How does it ever end? How long must she suffer, and what happens?
You must find out, by reading this gripping, poignant and sophisticatedly charming book--full of the flavor of the islands, the richness of the soil, and the death of all meaning.
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