I received a copy of Plantains and the 7 Plagues: A Memoir: Half-Dominican, Half-Cuban and Full Life in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are, of course, my own.
Plantains and the 7 Plagues: A Memoir: Half-Dominican, Half-Cuban and Full Life
Paz Ellis has been writing since childhood. She began her journey as a writer with poetry and short stories. She grew up in a household of voracious readers. Her father used to write Cuban folk songs and one of her uncles is a poet. Like her older sister, she kept journals. When she was about twelve years-old her mother gave her a wonderful gift- her first hardcover book. It was a beautiful copy of “Little Women.” She looked at it and realized that her name would be on a book cover one day. However, her first book was a product of grief. She wrote a memoir, Plantains and the Seven Plagues several months after her mother passed away and has not stopped writing since that day.
Paz has also published a fictional book, “Just Finn”. It is a story about an autistic young man, inspired by her brother who has lived with Asperger Syndrome for over forty-five years. “Just Finn” is the 1st of a two-part series. Part II will be available in the fall of 2020.
Paz was born and raised in New Jersey and currently lives in Florida. She lived on a cattle ranch in Oklahoma for twenty years with her husband. She has two teenage sons. Paz is also a photographer, a history buff, and an avid reader.
May 14, 2017
Why I Picked It Up
I was contacted by the author and requested to read and review. However, it was the description and beautiful cover that made me say yes. I love non-fiction and memoirs even more and the diversity of this memoir in particular definitely caught my attention.
Famous First Words
“I have been looking for something for a long time.”
Author Paz Ellis takes readers on a cross-cultural and trans-generational journey through her childhood in New Jersey to adulthood with Plantains and the 7 Plagues, A Memoir: Half-Dominican, Half-Cuban and Full Life.
Paz insightfully describes the complexities and contradictions of growing up in the United States to a Dominican mother and a Cuban father. From her mother’s obsessive cleaning rituals to her father’s remarkable knack for invention, this book beautifully explains what living a hyphenated-life means for so many Hispanics. She writes about what it means to be American, and Cuban, and Dominican, and having to be all of those things and only one of them… all at the same time.
Following the passing of her mother, the author finds herself on a search for meaning through not only her past but also her mother’s. This book is about life, loss, memory, culture, and family, the glue that determines who your family actually is- love. Written with a healthy dose of wit and an abundance of sincerity, Plantains, and the 7 Plagues is honest, painfully relatable, and deeply heartfelt.
My Thoughts & Takeaways
I opted to wait to receive a physical copy of the book and I’m so glad I did because the cover art is just beautiful. The vintage feel of it is a perfect visual representation of the memoir itself.
I already like to diversify my reading and the authors I read, but I will say I haven’t read a whole lot by Latino authors that I know of. I also was really interested in a first-hand account of what it was like to grow up in a Cuban (or half-Cuban) household during the takeover by Fidel Castro.
The heartbreaking journey that her father witnessed in his home of Cuba and how deeply he missed his family who were all still stuck back in Cuba was captivating and horrifying. As Americans, I feel as though we know OF the Castro and the Cuban Revolution, but we don’t really know until we hear it from someone who lived through it or was close to someone who did.
So, not only was this a wonderful memoir, but it was education as well.
Ellis does a great job of capturing her beautiful and strong Dominican mother and her somber and intelligent Cuban father.
There were some over-generalizations throughout the book I could have done without. However, overall, this book kept me engaged and really interested in reading more Latino memoirs.