Like most Cubans, Clara is tired of living a substandard life beneath a controlling communist regime that has left her father dead, her sister blind, and her newly beloved husband working hundreds of miles away. When the opportunity arises for Clara to flee the country without risk of being picked up by the police, she doesn’t think twice; she decides to go with or without her husband Rigo. However, if only it was as easy as it sounds.
Luis Gonzalez has masterfully executed the voice of Clara rallying readers to become her biggest supporters. She is intelligent, fierce, and determined, and knows she is the only one capable of making her situation better. To think otherwise that changes are coming or their lives will get better is just naïve and that is something Clara is not.
“Tomorrow morning, amor, August 15, 1994. The day we’ll leave this all behind and never look back.”
Readers will take an emotional rollercoaster as Gonzalez doesn’t rely on heavy description, but rather chips away at a reader’s humanity. Luz could easily be the memoir of hundreds of thousands of Cuban men and women. It is heartbreaking yet maddening. As an American reader, you want to reach into the book and just pull Clara through the pages to release her from the life in which she ultimately must choose to remain.
Gonzalez leaves the climax of Luz until the very end with Clara facing challenges that could ultimately find her locked away in a psyche ward, almost a “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” scenario. While some of the dialogue felt a little too drawn out at times, in retrospect, I realize the issue wasn’t the dialogue, but a sense of great urgency to know what was going to happen next.
Emotionally spellbinding and on par with current world events, Luz lends a voice to the silenced and awakens one’s empathy.