Havana, 1939—The glamorous capital city of an alluring Caribbean island, the year that Rolando Fernández and Ninina Perea meet and fall in love. Strassburger begins her story with her parents’ courtship in the golden years of pre-Castro Cuba. Her memoir recounts how her father’s mental collapse and the communist revolution of 1959 uprooted her privileged childhood, both physically and emotionally.
While providing substantial background on Fidel Castro’s political revolt, Strassburger focuses on her family’s experiences: The appropriation of their wealth and properties by the rebel regime. How families were torn apart as children were taken from their parents, forced to undergo communist indoctrination in Russia. Strassburger narrowly escaped such a fate through Operation Peter Pan, one of the largest political exoduses of children in history. Fearing for her future, her parents sent her out of Cuba—alone—in 1961. She relates the terror of being separated from her family and living in a foreign country without them.
With affecting detail, Strassburger depicts her family’s disintegration as her father spiraled into schizophrenia and communism forced them into exile. They left behind their loved ones, their homes, and their identities to face the hardships of a new life in the United States. Palm Trees in the Snow is a family’s story of love, sacrifice, and survival. It is the author’s tribute to a way of life lost forever and the embracing of a new one in America.
Published by Antilles Pearl Press
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