Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
especially welcome to extensive readers

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Tomorrow They Will Kiss:Tune into this terrific debut

Tomorrow They Will Kiss by Eduardo Santiago chronicles the tale of three Cuban women who emigrate to Union City,NJ in the sixties and wind up working together at the same doll factory. Graciela,Imperio and Caridad all use to live in Palmagria,a
small town where keeping an eye on everybody else's business was the norm,even before Fidel Castro's revolution changed life as they knew it.

Graciela was always considered to be different and the centerpiece of local gossip. With this new start in the US,she hopes to get away from the past but with Imperio and Caridad around to drop hints and pass judgements on her,it's not easy.

The one thing all three ladies(and their new friends in America)agree on are the telenovelas that play every night that give them all a safe topic to talk about when tensions rise over things like who should sit in the front seat of the van that takes them all to the factory or Graciela's growing relationship with Barry O'Reilly,their supervisor at work. In a way,Graciela's life is very similar to the heroine of a telenovela;she entered a loveless marriage to escape her parent's house and thenwas denounced as a tramp for alledgedly taking up with another man,Pepe,who now works for the Revoluntionary cause.

Unlike many of her fellow Cubans who see their new life in America as temporary, Graciela decides to make changes and start down a new path by going to school to learn English and Fashion Design. This bothers Imperio and Caridad,who seem to enjoy focusing on Graciela's failings as a way to both feel superior and to make their unhappy marriages look better by comparison. It's almost as if they need Graciela to be the star of their real world morality play,neverminding her feelings or their own behavior towards her and the other people in their life such as Berta,an older woman with bad legs whose health is getting worse. Imperio openly scorns her slowness to her face while Graciela takes the time to help Berta out and be a true friend to her.

This is Eduardo Santiago's first novel,which is hard to believe given the skill and care given to the characters as well as the touching humanity shown by and to the supporting players of this piece. It's also a loving tribute to the world of pre Castro Cuba as well as the newly formed Cuban-American community that decide to stick by each other,regardless of who and where they came from back home.

Tomorrow They Will Kiss is a beautifully written tale that captures the heart and soul of women who may be friends for better or worse but who ultimately must find true happiness on their own terms. This is a must for reading groups(chances are that you know one or two people very much like the ladies of the story)and a great book that'll have you waiting for Santiago's next one as anxiously as you would for the
next episode of your favorite primetime drama.

No comments: