Song for Olivia by Maruchi Mendez: A Harrowing Story of Hardship and Hope

Based on a true story, “Song for Olivia” is the story of a Cuban family with siblings Mari and Olivia at the center of the narrative when they fled their home country with Fidel Castro’s rise to power. Though it is not meant to be political, the era it was in touch on the Cuban Missile crisis, the role of the CIA in the 1960s and how the takeover of the communist regime affected a young girl.

song for olivia

Amidst all that, “Song for Oliva” focused on the life of a young immigrant to the US and the cultural shock brought about a complete change in modus vivendi and adaptation of a lifestyle for three teenage girls and their entire family.

“Gusana. Esbirra. Latifundista. Mari is only 12 when she is called these words for the first time. She knows what they mean: worm, henchman, filthy landowner. What she doesn’t yet know is that they mark the beginning of her exile from her native Cuba. Mari’s childhood has been filled with the opulence enjoyed by Cuba’s wealthy elites, but as Fidel Castro seizes power, her father’s money and former government position place a target on their family. The country she has always called home is now violently rejecting her.

After a fraught escape to Miami, Mari and her sister Olivia must start over as Castro continues to devastate the loved ones they have left behind. Miami holds both hope and desperation. Mari works towards her dream of becoming a writer, while Olivia meets and falls in love with a counterrevolutionary. Still, their family is fractured, their money is scarce, and their father insists they will be able to return to Cuba before they know it. But Mari and Olivia know that their futures are in the US now. It’s up to them to find their way back to the lives they want to lead.”

About the Author
Maruchi Mendez is the author of Finding Home: A Memoir of a Mother’s Undying Love and an Untold Secret along with the Spanish translation Buscando Mi Estrella. She also co-authored two different editions of 100 Things to Do in Miami Before You Die. She has lived in Miami, Florida for over 50 years, where she has raised her four children and grandchildren. She is the co-founder of JunTos Foundation and is a fierce advocate of student-athletes’ health. She has received several awards and proclamations for her efforts to pass legislation that raises the standards of student-athletes’ cardiac screening.