Following Enchanted Air, Margarita Engle’s memoir of her early years, I felt like she had stopped before the story ended. How wonderful when I was able to beg an advance reading copy of the sequel, Soaring Earth, from Net Galley!
In her gift of being able to combine beautiful poetry with the story she is telling, Margarita takes us through her search to know who she is as she comes of age in California in all the unease of a war in Vietnam and protest movements with the additional challenge of what to do with her traditional Cuban heritage.
A few samples of her words will give a taste of her writing. In an early boy/girl encounter with an ROTC student – “I’m Cuban American. / He’s Mexican American. Close enough.”
Looking at the political situation and longing for the days when she can return to Cuba to visit the land and her relatives as she did when she was younger – “For such a small place / Cuba seems to have a / way / of gripping the whole world’s / atencion.”
In the LSD college culture – “I’ll never look at a guy again, not when there’s / so great a chance that he’ll die in Vietnam / or stay / and overdose.”
I found commonality and satisfaction in her drop out from the University of California Berkley that was both too expensive and too big and her eventual discovery of her way to a community college that was both affordable and had personalized attention. I’ll not spoil the ending of the memoir except to say that it was good and satisfying. I only had one quarrel with this book that goes on sale on February 26. It ended before I was ready to leave. Maybe her young adulthood could be a third in this series?