Thursday, March 1, 2018

Havana Blues

Historical Coming-of-Age Novel

The year is 1952 and Ramon Rodriguez’s life as a teenager in fun-loving Havana is filled with typical activities and concerns: girls, education, religion, baseball, parties, and hanging out with friends. The country is enjoying a period of prosperity and happiness--until General Batista stages a coup that topples the government and Ramon’s life is flung into chaos.

In a few short years, the carefree fifties morph into a vicious and repressive dictatorship highlighted by corruption, organized gambling, school closures, student demonstrations, police brutality, and assassinations.

As Ramon experiences the thrills of his first romantic relationship, graduates from school, and struggles to plan for an uncertain future, he is forced to make important decisions that may be dangerous to him, his family, his friends, and his girlfriend – the beautiful Sonia -- and could turn deadly.

My room was on fire. Orange tongues licked the crumbling walls
and snaked across the burning floor toward my bed. Thick gray
smoke choked me. My ears throbbed with an insistent and
reverberating sound.

I couldn’t breathe.

I gasped for air. My palms felt sweaty, and my heart thrashed
against my rib cage, as if trying to escape my chest. I opened my eyes.
For a moment, I was in a bright and silent void – then I heard my
parents arguing in the kitchen.

It was a hot and sunny morning. I had been dreaming of hell
again, and the alarm clock was ringing.
I shut it off.

Ever since Brother Santiago had given in Religion class a week
ago a vivid and realistic description of hell as punishment for
masturbation and having sex with prostitutes, I’d had the same dream
over and over. Amid much commotion and speculation, Pacheco, the
frail student with a perennially runny nose who sat behind me in
class, fainted and had to be carted off to the school infirmary, pale
and limp like a noodle in won ton soup. Everyone in class knew
Pacheco was an assiduous masturbator – he bragged about it to other
students often enough – but his blackout generated great speculation
in the school about his frequent visits to brothels. I wondered what
kind of nightmares Pacheco was having.

On second thought, I really didn’t want to know. I had enough
with my own nightmares of hell.

I stretched lazily in bed. Today was a special day. It was my
birthday. I was fifteen years old.

A door slammed somewhere, and once more I was aware of my
parents’ angry voices in the kitchen. I likened their arguments to a
sort of word symphony, the sound of their voices harmonized so
well. My mother’s shrill, piercing sting was a nearly perfect
complement to my father’s placating hum.

Though I couldn’t hear them clearly, I guessed what they were
arguing about – money. Ever since Papa’s broom-making business
started going bad, it seemed money was all they ever talked about.

This is a story of life in Cuba. A life of young boys and their families living where one despot or another might be in charge at any time.  While this book shows that side of life in Cuba, it also shows a normal life. Not one I think we Americans have a picture of.  Some families have money; some don't. Many kids get an education and go on to college. Times are tough and yet at times the economy is good. Families worry about money.  Some kids can’t attend the high school dance because they have no money for a suit.  Many young boys fall in love; others wonder what love is and are a little scared about it.  Sounds in some ways like growing up in America. How odd for a young boy to think his thoughts of masturbation are the biggest sin in the world when the adults around him are worrying what the new dictator will be like compared to the last one. A place where the ordinary and a frightening life are a part of every day.   

Under all of this story about families, David Pereda has drawn a wonderful picture of boys and puberty; their fantasies and the gritty part of their walk to manhood.  As I got into this book and began to realize I   was going to have to read through those stupid thoughts that young boys have.  I thought I’d be uncomfortable.  In truth, it was a very pure and realistic picture of growing up and growing up in a world surrounded with politics, corruption, guerillas roaming the streets and in the midst of it all, a little bit of the norm. At least the norm for living in Cuba.  I was really drawn into the story. Sometimes laughing; at others very sad.  
Having mentioned all of the emotions I encountered through this book, I obviously found Pereda was very good at describing the daily life of his characters and their thoughts. 

Pereda has written several other novels. They are described as thrillers; some political thrillers.  After reading Havana Blues, I intend to put all of his books on my “to be read” list.  As a reviewer, I suggest you do the same. 

David Pereda will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. (see below)

AUTHOR Bio and Links:  

David Pereda was born in Havana, Cuba. The award-winning author of seven previous novels, he enjoys crafting political thrillers and edgy mainstream novels with unique characters placed in exotic settings. He has traveled to more than thirty countries and speaks four languages. Before devoting his time solely to writing and teaching, David had a successful international consulting career with global giant Booz Allen Hamilton, where he worked with the governments of Mexico, Venezuela, Peru and Qatar, among others.

A member of MENSA, David earned his MBA from Pepperdine University in California. He earned bachelor degrees in English literature and mathematics at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

He lives in artistic Asheville, North Carolina, with his youngest daughter Sophia, where he teaches mathematics and English at the Asheville-Buncombe Community College. He loves sports and is an accomplished competitor in track and show-jumping equestrian events.

Buy links:

Get Havana Blues on sale at Amazon during David's Tour.
Kindle $2.99 and hard copy $17.99


Barnes and Noble:


  1. I want to thank you for hosting me in your blog today. I'll be checking in and out throughout the day -- before, in-between and after my classes -- to answer questions or respond to comments from your readers about Havana Blues, my next upcoming book to be released in March, or any other topic regarding my writing. As a special concession, my publisher has reduced the price of the Kindle book on Amazon to only $2.99 and the print book to $17.55 during the length of the Goddess Fish Blog Tour. Again, my thanks.

    Also, I appreciate your sensitive and perceptive review of my book.

  2. I was really enjoying following this tour, thank you for all the great blog posts and excerpts!

  3. David,
    I am sure you won't mind but...I'm going to update my blog quickly and put the Kindle book sale on there. That way if people don't read the comments they will still know.

    P.S. Thanks for the mention about my review's easier to write a good review when the book is good!

  4. I enjoyed getting to know your book; congrats on the tour and I hope it is a fun one for you :)

  5. Kathy,

    Thank you again. Your sensitivity, perception, love of history, and passion for words were all visible in your review. I have another book being published later this month or early next month (providing the publisher and I finally sign off on the cover and the final edit)and I intend to do another tour with Goddess Fish. It would be my privilege for your blog to be one of my stops.


  6. Thank you Nikolina and Lisa. Good luck to both of you on the give away.
    Within a month or two, I should be doing another tour with Goddess Fish for my next book. I hope you follow that tour too.

  7. Oh my gosh David, you brought tears to my eyes. The one thing I've always been jealous and in awe of is people (like you) that can get your thoughts all in a row and in order to make them become a book.

    You can guarantee I'll watch for the next book and I work for the nicest people that I bet they'll let me be a reviewer...or they will now at least :)

    Just keep writing ok?

  8. Thanks for sharing your review, I enjoyed reading it!

  9. So nice to have everyone stop by today. Best of luck on the drawing.


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