Santa Rita Stories
Andrew J. Rodriguez
Outskirts Press (2014)
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (12/14)
“Santa Rita Stories” by Andrew J. Rodriguez illustrates the daily life of a coming of age young man in Cuba set in the mid-1950’s through a series of 10 beautifully written interrelated stories. We follow 15 year old Carlos, as he grows up in the small Cuban fishing town of Santa Rita. Santa Rita is a distinctive small town rich in history that boasts an unusual cast of characters, past and present. Most flamboyant perhaps is Pedro, also known as el Viejo (the old man). Pedro is the town vagrant who lives on the docks and claims to know everything about everything, but is especially proficient in the history of Santa Rita, his knowledge spanning back to the founding years of the small town. Carlos is a frequent visitor of the docks to see Pedro, who has become a mentor to him over the years. Pedro not only educates Carlos on the colorful history of Santa Rita, but enlightens his young friend on the many ways of the world. Carlos seeks Pedro’s wisdom on everything as he comes of age – and the two unlikely friends enjoy a most solid bond, both of their lives enriched because of the other. With the end of the last story comes a realization that we all must grow up and find our way in the world but the memories of our youth stays with us forever.
I absolutely could not get enough of “Santa Rita Stories.” The writing was masterful and the stories well-articulated through each character, whom I found quite charming. I was able to easily place myself in the small town and experience life as described in the pages. I particularly enjoyed the meetings between Pedro and Carlos and eagerly awaited Pedro’s next tangent, for he was sure to work himself up completely as he impressed upon Carlos the importance of his rants…I mean lessons. The way Pedro and Carlos interacted with each other was very endearing and I could feel the respect, admiration and love they held for each other.
"Santa Rita Stories” by Andrew J. Rodriguez is a delightful coming of age book, sure to please readers of all ages and tastes.