Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Other Side of Paradise - Review

The Other Side of Paradise: Life in the New Cuba by Julia Cooke

Rating: 3 Stars

Description:  This book tells the tale of how life really works in modern day Cuba particularly by looking at the country's young people.  While there is a brief history lesson and talk of politics, government and economics woven through out the book this is predominately the story of how regular people live.  With each new person we look a little deeper into a different element of Cuban life.

Genre: Non-Fiction

My Impression: It took me awhile to get involved in this book.  The first bit was kind of clunky setup that seemed to be trying to cram too much into too few pages.  Even with the first profile about a woman named Lucia I wasn't particularly involved and I almost put the book down.  I'm glad I didn't because soon after Cooke seems to hit her rhythm and the stories start to flow.  Through her new landlords we see how the real estate market works both pre and post Castro, through Sandra we take a look at the prostitution industry, through Isnael we see religion and racism and through Adrian we look at the Cuban music industry.  This continues through person after person taking a deeper look into what makes Cuba Cuba.  Despite a slow and rocky start I ended up really enjoying this book and really finding it interesting.  I think Cooke's way of exploring the different facets of Cuban culture through different profiles was a unique and effective way to get the information across.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: This isn't an author that would be an automatic read for me but I would definitely try more of her books if the subject matter interested me.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes


  1. This one sounds interesting. I am glad you were finally able to get into it. I don't often read nonfiction, but this book sounds like it is a worthwhile read.

    1. I enjoyed this one and it's stuck with me. I've found myself referencing it a few times in conversation. It's not a subject that I knew much about but she does a good job of really showing what the actual living part is through these profiles instead of just stats and dates.