February 2015 Book of the Month:
A Falling Star by Chantel Acevedo
About the Book:
A Falling Star
Daysy Maria del Pozo and Stella Maris Morales-Quinn both came to the United States as part of the 1980 Mariel Boatlift—Daysy settling in South Florida with her family and Stella starting a new life with her mother and step-father in Pittsburgh. Over time, they each find themselves haunted by their families’ complicated and painful Cuban pasts. As Stella deals with her mother’s suicide and it slowly dawns on Daysy that there are family secrets she must uncover, the reader hears the del Pozo family history, piece by piece, from Daysy’s mother. Soon it becomes clear that Daysy and Stella may share more than their Cuban-American heritage.
A Falling Star is a novel in tapestry form, interwoven from the various threads of an exiled Cuban family, which is tied to the mystery of one daughter’s disappearance during the ocean crossing. The surviving daughter, Daysy, is the inquisitive Penelope figure who weaves and unweaves the story of her family through old photos, newspaper articles and constant questioning. Chantel Acevedo writes with insight and tenderness about the complex reality of unanchored lives both in Cuba and in the U.S., while at the same time involving us in a captivating tale of loss and redemption.
—Judith Ortiz Cofer, author of The Latin Deli and The Meaning of Consuelo
A Falling Star is filled with the ghosts of lost children and siblings, lost cultures and minds. It’s as if the characters are standing on a Florida shore looking toward Cuba, waiting for the remnants of their former lives to wash up along with the refugees who appear again and again. Chantel Acevedo has created a world so steeped in longing and Santería lore that it’s entirely possible missing children can fall star-like from the sky, or emerge fish-like from the ocean. This haunting novel delivers not only secrets and lies, pounding guilt and grief, but glorious redemption.
—Marie Manilla, author of Shrapnel and The Patron Saint of Ugly
The enduring love for a lost sister is the focus of this beautifully written novel set against the chaotic backdrop of the Mariel Boatlift. Daysy del Pozo is having a hard enough time dealing with adolescence when her beloved grandfather reveals an explosive family secret in the confusion of dementia. What really happened to the del Pozo family after a rescue at sea creates a gripping mystery, and the suspense builds to a dramatic climax and bittersweet dénouement. The homesickness, fragmentation, and disorientation of the Miami exile community are vividly portrayed and deeply moving. This is a beautiful story about instincts that keeps families together in even the most horrifying of circumstances.
—Sandra Rodriguez Barron, author of The Heiress of Water and Stay with Me
About the Author:
Chantel Acevedo’s novels include Love and Ghost Letters (St. Martin’s Press), which won the Latino International Book Award and was a finalist for the Connecticut Book of the Year, Song of the Red Cloak, a historical novel for young adults, A Falling Star (Carolina Wren Press), winner of the Doris Bakwin Award, and The Distant Marvels, forthcoming from Edizioni EO (summer 2014) and Europa Editions (2015).
Her fiction and poetry have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and have appeared in Prairie Schooner, American Poetry Review, North American Review, and Chattahoochee Review, among others.
Acevedo holds an MFA from the University of Miami. She was named a Literature Fellow by the Alabama State Council on the Arts in 2012. She is currently an Associate Professor of English and Alumni Writer-in-Residence at Auburn University, where she founded the Auburn Writers Conference, the Creative Writing Studio for Teens, and edits the Southern Humanities Review.