Tuesday, August 30, 2022

A TV assignment, two books, a life-long love affair and five kids




HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I absolutely cannot wait for you to read this post.


I mean, I could gush about Linda Hurtado Bond, and her skills, and her exploits, and her passion, and her humor, and her talent.  But you will get all of that from this post. And MORE!


And I'll be back at the end. To join in your applause.


I mean--aren't you hooked by the title alone?



How an assignment to Cuba as a TV Journalist, during the meeting of Pope John Paul II and Fidel Castro, inspired two books, a life-long love affair, five kids and a few of my favorite recipes 



By Linda Hurtado Bond 


My first assignment outside of the United States came decades ago, when Cuba’s Fidel Castro invited Pope John Paul the second to Cuba for a meeting. I worked for the ABC station in Tampa at the time. The Bay area is home to a large and politically active Cuban American Community. Many fled Castro’s revolution, settling in Tampa, and had not been back to their homeland in over 30 years. Not by choice. 


Assigned by my TV station to make the trip with a group affiliated with a local Catholic Church, I chose to do a story on a family with five sons. Only two of the five decided to make the trip to Cuba with their parents. Those two wanted to see the island through their parents eyes before their parents died and both feared – with restrictions on travel – this might be their only chance. The other three brothers refused to go to Cuba as long as Castro still ruled. They blamed Castro for forcing their parents to flee with nothing but the clothes on their backs. They blamed Castro for their parent’s struggled to provide for five boys in a new world, not knowing the English language. 


While interviewing Juan and Josefina Figueredo about this historic trip back to Cuba and their past, both began to cry. Juan cried while recounting his decision to leave his home country, so his children had the freedom to practice the Catholic religion. Josefina cried while describing the moment she hugged her father for the last time, knowing she would never see him again.  


One of their sons, Jorge, stopped the interview and began to chastise me because I made his parents cry. I thought, “The nerve of him. This is my job,  and this story is heartfelt and compelling. It needs to be told.”  I ignored his resistance and finished my interview. He glared at me the whole time. 


Ours was a true enemies-to-lovers romance. 😊 


Traveling to Cuba on that assignment, our first stop was to the farm outside of Havana owned by a relative of Jorge’s. When we got there, and the matriarch realized Victor, Jorge’s older brother, was among the group, she broke down and sobbed. Then she went into her bedroom and pulled out a shirt from under her mattress. It was a little red shirt and it had been perfectly pressed and preserved. She took that little red shirt off of Victor on the last day he’d been at her house. She’d taken care of Victor for months while another one of Jorge’s brothers had been sick. The matriarch kept that shirt for 30 years, praying she’d see the baby, Victico, again before she died. 


That moment brought both me and Jorge to tears. And when I saw how moved Jorge was, and how deeply he loved his Cuban family, something inside me shifted. I began to see this adversary in a different way. If he could love these relatives, that he’d never met before, imagine how he would love his own family! 


After that trip to Cuba, Jorge’s mother would invite me over to dinner. She knew I’d lost my own mother to breast cancer.  I loved those dinners, especially when her handsome son, Jorge, would show up. He showed up a lot. 


Two and a half years later, we married. Jorge had two kids from a previous marriage. We had two of our own. And later, we adopted his cousin from Cuba who came to America in a boat, using America’s wet foot-dry foot policy to stay. Now we had a big, beautiful Cuban American family, bound by love, if not blood. 


Flash forward a decade, and I’m writing my second novel called Cuba Undercover. I needed to write a book about this beautiful country left in decay by political upheaval, and divided loyalties. I needed to write about the men and women who still shouldered a love for the country they were kicked out of or were forced to leave under duress. And I needed to include a love story because that’s where I found mine. 



For my fourth book, a serial killer thriller, I once again tapped into my love for the Cuban American culture, this time diving deeper into back closet traditions, formed on the island, but carried in secret suitcases to America. I wanted to introduce readers to Santeria and make that little know religion the tie that bound a Cuban American reporter to a vigilante serial killer. 


That one trip to Cuba changed my life in so many ways. 


In honor of my mother-in-law Josefina Figueredo and her amazing cooking skills I’m sharing a recipe for her rice pudding. 


And I hope you will check out All the Broken Girls, now available here.  


HANK: Okay, interrupting here to say--see? Told you. Isn't she amazing?


And I'll give a copy of ALL THE BROKEN GIRLS to one lucky commenter--just tell us ONE thing you love about this post!


But wait there's more: Linda is sharing a recipe! Then scroll down for her fabulous bio, and more about this gripping thriller.




Abuela Fina’s rice pudding recipe: 


½ cup white rice 

3 ½ cups water 

2-inch piece shaved lemon peel 

½ stick cinnamon 

4 cups milk

1 cup white sugar

¼ teaspoon salt 

1 teaspoon vanilla 

Ground cinnamon


Put lemon peel and cinnamon stick in water and bring to a boil. Add rice. Turn on medium heat. Cook rice on medium heat until tender. Add salt, sugar, milk and vanilla. Cook while stirring until creamy. When creamy, pour into small glass containers and let cool. Sprinkle cinnamon on top. Cover and cool in refrigerator.  Serves 8. 




By day, Linda Hurtado Bond is an Emmy and Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. By night, she’s an author of James Bond like adventures and heart-stopping thrillers. Linda met her husband Jorge on assignment in Cuba, twenty-some years later they've raised a doctor, a nurse, a pilot, a paramedic firefighter, and an aspiring psychologist.  A breast cancer survivor, she’s active in the Tampa community raising money and awareness. When not working she finds time for her passions, her husband Jorge, world travel, classic movies, and solving a good mystery.  Visit Linda at lindabond.com




ALL THE BROKEN GIRLS 

When one falls

Crime reporter Mari Alvarez was never able to solve her mother’s murder ten years ago. But when a woman is gunned down on the doorstep of her West Tampa neighborhood, Mari can’t shake the eerie sense of connection.

The others will break

Now there have been two murders in two days. Each crime scene awash with arcane clues—and without a trace of DNA from the killer. And for each victim, a doll. The first is missing an eye. The second is missing a heart. But are these clues leading to the killer…or messages for Mari?

Unless she plays the game...

Caught up in a maelstrom of Old-World superstition, secrets, and ties to her own past, Mari has only one option. Put the puzzle together before someone else dies—even if it destroys her career. But there’s no escaping the hungry spider’s web when it’s been made just for you…



88 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Congratulations, Linda, on your newest book . . . just recently I read [and loved] “All The Broken Girls” . . . .

    What do I love about this post? Linda’s wonderful story of her trip to Cuba and meeting Jorge [and of its lovely outcome] . . . . the recipe, thank you, Linda, sounds delicious [and rice pudding is one of John’s favorite desserts] . . .

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    1. Oh, that's great, Joan! Just wondering..how did you hear about it?

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    2. Joan, let me know if you try it. My mother-in-law made it for a book event we had at a cigar factory in Tampa and everyone raved about it.

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    3. Hank, I read Linda's book through NetGalley, so I think it must have been listed in one of the "check out these books" emails I get from NetGalley . . . .

      Linda, I made your rice pudding this morning . . . YUM!

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  3. What a beautiful story. It really is important to get to know people, isn't it? Not just how they react to things. (And yes, I'm preaching to myself on this right now.)

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  4. Amazing story! thanks for visiting today Linda--Cuba is a fascinating, tragic place and I loved hearing your experience. Looking forward to your books as well! And rice pudding? One of my favorites!

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    1. Mine, too--we never have in, and now I am really considering it! With raisins?

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    2. Lucy- when I think of Havana, I think of beauty in decay.

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  5. A splendid romance with all the right ingredients. Thank you for sharing it, and the recipe, too. The new book sounds amazing!

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    1. And such a fascinating way to meet. Wow.

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    2. Edith, I hope you will try both the rice pudding and the book All the Broken Girls

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  6. An insider's look at Cuba. Can't wait to read your books.

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    1. Yes--amazing what one decision can do, right?

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    2. The next book in the series takes place in Cuba

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  7. Wow, this got right to my heart both sad and happy. If she can do this is one post, I can only imagine what her books are like. Adding her to my authors list. The hate turned to love and marriage was my favorite part. Xx

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    1. Yes, so agree! And it all came out of passion, right?

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  8. This book sounds fantastic! Congratulations on your latest release, Linda. I love the story of how you met your husband - just wonderful - and rice pudding? Yes, please. Living in AZ, the plight of immigrants is very personal to me. Thank you for telling their stories. It's so important.

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    1. Rice pudding...making Linda's mother in law's recipe today.

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    2. Yes, Jenn, I always think how it all depends on what state we live in--and you are in the midst of reality.

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    3. Oooh Judy I want to hear what you think about the rice pudding.

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  9. Linda, I love your love story! You made his parents cry. Gosh! And he yelled at you. Sounds like the perfect romance!

    Cuba is fascinating. The Cuban American community is one I know little about, but I do learn much from reading stories set in different cultures. This book is going right onto my TBR list. So glad you came by to tell your story.

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    1. It does, doesn't it? I agree, a fascinating story in every way.

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  10. What a wonderful story, Linda. And did you speak with the Pope?

    In about 1963 our Catholic grade school got three new students, Alec and George (renamed, I realized later), and George's sister Marisol, all my classmates. Their fathers were doctors who had fled from Cuba and they were given jobs at our Catholic hospital in my little Ohio town. Before then I knew there was such a country, but didn't think much about it. George, in particular, was a fun guy and I had a big crush, but I now realize what it must have taken for their families to move to Hamilton, Ohio.

    Looking forward to reading All the Broken Girls!

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    1. Oh, Karen, what a culture shock for them--Hamilton Ohio, as I remember, such a pretty little friendly low-key "typical" town. ANd you were just a kid--imagine how terrified--maybe?--they must have been.

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    2. I know. And it makes me really glad to have been kind to them. Alex later died in a car accident in South America, but I lost track of George and Marisol because they did not continue on to our Catholic high school with us. I've often wondered what happened to them.

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  11. I love rice pudding! And I love your story, Linda. I think my favorite part is the tidbit about Jorge's mom. You interviewed her and made her cry, yet she saw your worth and continued to invite you to dinner and provide opportunities for you and Jorge to get to know each other. Love of family permeates this post, as it permeates Latino culture.

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    1. I love her like my own mother.

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  12. I've always been fascinated by Cuba--and was relieved when President Obama re-established our embassy there. I understand the anger and pain of those forced to flee--but felt that the best avenue for change was to let the world into Cuba again. A lovely story, Linda, of meeting Jorge. I'll be seeking out your books!

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  13. Congratulations on the book, Linda! What a touching story; loved the woman who had preserved Victor's childhood shirt.

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    1. The shirt story is so touching...what an exquisite detail.

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  14. Thank you, Linda, for telling us your own personal love story. I loved it. Rice pudding has always been a favorite of mine and this seems to be a little bit more special - I can't wait to try it. Also, I am looking forward to reading your book!

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    1. We are all about the rice pudding and romance! Love that..

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  15. Jorge’s mother knew what she was doing inviting Linda for dinner. Fanning the flames from the spark of that feisty interview.

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  16. This was a beautiful post! The book sounds great, but it was the story of your romance with Jorge that really touched me. Especially with the coda of what your five children are doing now included in your bio!

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  17. Congratulations on your latest release, Linda! This book sounds compelling. The rice pudding recipe sounds yummy!

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    1. Ha! How many of us are making rice pudding today? SO great to see you, Damyanti! xx

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  18. Your heartwarming post was beautiful and special. I enjoyed learning about Jorge's family and the love that blossomed from your encounter.

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  19. How wonderful to read a real enemies-to-lovers story! Bless Josefina for nudging it along.

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  20. Congratulations on your release! Your family story sounds like a real life fairytale and unforgettable.

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    1. Yes, absolutely! .But it still took all the involved people to understand it..and work together!

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  21. What an amazing story about your time in Cuba! I look forward to reading the book as well, and learning more. We really know very little about Cuba what with so many years of restrictions and politcal issues. I'm curious if or how things may change in my lifetime.

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  22. Welcome, Linda! I look forward to reading your book. As I read your story about your husband’s family, I was reminded of the harrowing stories told by immigrants from Cuba to my hometown many years ago. A friend of one of my sisters came with her family when she was a child. Her father was at risk of arrest because of his opposition to Castro’s policies. My mom’s boss came from Cuba even earlier. I can’t even tell his story; it sounds like a thriller! A lot of really brave people came here!

    DebRo

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  23. Linda, you have the most far-flung and romantic "how we met" story ever! And I love the idea of a mystery/thriller digging into Cuban-American culture - it's such a rich, passionate, tradition-loving community, but it's usually only used as a backdrop to some white spy/detective/ romantic hero's adventures.

    And any of you who haven't - DO click on the link to Linda's website. She has the best mystery author picture ever.

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  24. Welcome, Linda! And I agree with Julia--you definitely have the best mystery author photo! Everyone should check it out! I loved your story and I'm looking forward to learning more about Cuban-American culture through your books.

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    1. Andy Bloxham is a local photographer who took numerous shots and layered them together and used graphic design to add in the shadows.

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  25. Fascinating.
    "just tell us ONE thing you love about his post!" "This" post?

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  26. How nice that you visited Cuba while Pope John Paul II was visiting . Sounds like it was a very emotional trip and you were able to see the real Cuba not just the Cuba they want us to see. Looking forward to reading the book.

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  27. Welcome to Jungle Reds, Linda! I love your story. Very romantic. It is straight out of Hallmark Romance movies. Please feel free to tell me to mind my own business. I have a delicate question to ask. How were your husband's family treated in Cuba BEFORE the Fidel Castro Revolution? I saw a documentary called I AM CUBA and there were many things that I did NOT know. It seems that there was a Big American Company that owned a lot of land in Cuba and were really awful to the Cuban people. The Cubans were treated like Slaves? I really do not know what it was like for Cubans before Fidel Castro took over.

    There is a family legend in my story. In the 1940s after the war, my grandmother was in a boat with friends when there was a storm. They were in Florida and took a day trip on the boat. Their boat took them to Cuba! When they arrived in Cuba, their rescuer was a Jewish refugee from Europe. It seems that the Jewish refugee and their family arrived in Cuba before the War and before the Holocaust. I also have a photo of my grandparents visiting Cuba in the early 1950s.

    Someday I would like to visit Cuba. I have heard that it is a beautiful country. Did you know that Cesar Romero (the Joker from Batman) had family from Cuba? His Uncle and Aunt were actors from Cuba and they were Deaf. They acted in Silent Movies. If you get a copy of the non fiction book HOLLYWOOD SPEAKS by John Stanley Schuchmann (sp?), the book talks about the Romeros from Cuba. I think you can order a copy of the book from Gallaudet University Press ?

    Diana

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    1. WOW--what a fascinating compilation of info!

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    2. Thanks for all the information. I know my father-in-law was a successful businessman before the revolution. He left, in part, because he wanted to raise his kids in the Catholic Church. He sent his first son to America during the Peter Pan flights during the JOhnson administration and that is how the family got out later.

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  28. Coralee in Sulphur Springs, TampaAugust 30, 2022 at 1:08 PM

    Welcome to JRW's Linda, I am delighted to meet you below the line. As you can see, I am part of your viewing area. Indeed, what would Tampa be without the Cuban population? Right now, my fridge has one cuban sandwich sitting next to the lemonade waiting for lunch. The pudding comes later. A special thanks to you for all the hard work that you have done for the community. I appreciate your honest reporting on subjects that are near to my heart.

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    1. SO great, Coralee! Have you seen Linda on TV?

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    2. Yes, I have Hank, her medical reporting was/is so very very good. Breast cancer awareness in Tampa owes a big thank you to Linda

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    3. Hi Coralee. Thanks for watching Fox 13. I'm so glad to be back in person emceeing events for the American Cancer Society.

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  29. This brings back so many memories of dear friends who escaped from Cuba after the revolution. At one family party I was shown a closet full of Santeria religious objects. My friends were passionate and fun.

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  30. Of course I loved the romance between Linda and Jorge that developed, but the moment from the trip to Cuba that touched me the most was the matriarch of the relative group pulling out that little red shirt of Victor's. She had kept it all that time against the odds of seeing him again. I think that moment shows the tragedy of families being separated and the hope many clung to of seeing them again one day.

    Linda, All the Broken Girls sounds like a great read. All your books would be a wonderful way to become more familiar with Cuban culture.

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    1. Yes, absolutely. SO agree about the little shirt...

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    2. There is a scene in All the Broken Girls where Tony Garcia, the homicide detective, is taking care of his aging father. That scene is inspired by watching my husband take care of his father. Family is so important to him. To us.

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  31. I love this! These books are definitely on my TBR.

    I remember going to Cuba as a child in the 1950s - we took the ferry from Stock Island and crossed the Florida Straits so my dad could gamble. Our guide? My mother's cousin who had met and married the love of his life when he was stationed at Guantanamo. My cousins had settled in Hialeah. Of course, all of this was pre-Castro. Post Castro, my cousins hosting many relatives who managed to make it out on Freedom Flights, including several who came via Pedro Pan. One indelible memory of the time was when my cousin's parents were able to come on a Freedom Flight. My cousin received a call from her mother that they were at Freedom Tower in downtown Miami and were told they were going to Iowa. In those days, refugees were assigned to various states and transported there. My dad and cousin jumped into the family car with a cadre of kids who refused to be left behind in a car the size of a boat. When we got to Freedom Tower, my dad and cousin found the grandparents boarding a bus to take them to the airport, grabbed them, and stuffed them into the waiting car. They essentially kidnapped them so they were able to stay in Florida with their daughter and grandkids. I learned all of my Spanish from my cousin's abuela, and developed a love for rice pudding and flan.

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    1. That's an incredible story...so amazing that Linda's book has elicited all these experiences. Wow. xx

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  32. Would love to read this book. It sounds so amazing .

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  33. My mom made rice pudding often when I was growing up. I admit I’m addicted to the Senor Rico brand, it’s my guilty pleasure. I will definitely try this recipe and look forward to reading your books.

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  34. I was just lamenting to myself today that it has been too long since I've read a good mystery, since none of my favorite authors have had a book published lately. I was wondering how I might find another author and it occurred to me to check Jungle Red. And then, what serendipity! JR popped up on my Facebook page tonight! Are the books by Linda Hurtado Bond stand alone novels or part of a series? They sound quite interesting!

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    1. Hank Phillippi RyanAugust 30, 2022 at 10:54 PM

      This is a standalone! Hooray! And that is why we are here :-) xxx

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    2. Hope you enjoy the mystery

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  35. AND THE WINNER IS: KAIT! Message me! xooxooo

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  36. The little red shirt broke my heart. I can't imagine that pain. Thank you, Linda, for sharing your story. I'm eager to read All The Broken Girls. Books open up new worlds to us. My interest in Cuba grew from the Cuban Missile Crisis. I visit my sister in Miami and love the Cuban culture, although the coffee sets me on my backside! Cuba--so close to the US and so far away.

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