Island of the White Rose

R. Ira Harris

Published by Bridgeworks Publishing


239 pages

Reviewed by Laura Hartman

Set in the turbulent political time of 1950’s Cuba, Harris’ debut novel, Island of the White Rose asks many more questions than it answers – which is good because it makes the reader think. This is a work of fiction, but the events that weave in and out of the plot are based upon historical facts when the scenes involve Fidel Castro, Raul Castro, Che Guevara and Cantillo

Father Pedro Vallanueava is at a crossroad in his life. He is struggling with his faith but does not want to disappoint his family. His oldest brother is a physician like their father, his other brother is a lawyer like their grandfather. The expectation and prayerful request of his mother was that Pedro would become a priest. Pedro is a good son and follows the path expected of him, but the collar he wears begins to choke him after time. The only place he feels comfortable in his own skin is when he is sailing aboard his family’s sailboat La Rqsa Blanca.

 La Rosa Blanca or The White Rose flourishes throughout the novel as it becomes the symbol of unity and secrecy, love, honor and sympathy. Pedro becomes involved with the revolution which conflicts with his family’s ideals and the Church’s believes. He secretly falls in love with one woman and in lust with another.

Things get quickly out of hand for him, bringing about the destruction of someone he dearly loves. Unwillingly he is thrust deeper into the revolution. The more he struggles with his situation, the quicksand of his secrets pull him further and further away from his family and home.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have the attention span of a flea anymore. In spite of my lack of willingness to read a thick biography of Castro’s revolution, I loved getting a glimpse into Cuba in the 1950s. The tactics used by the government and the revolutionaries made me cry for the ordinary people on the island just trying to live their day to day lives amidst killings, lootings and  lack of essential things like water, food and electricity.

Thanks to Harris, I know more about Cuba and want to read even more about what happened on the island.

Copyright © 2013 Laura Hartman

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.