Books And More

Memories of Cuba

TFK talks to author Alma Flor Ada about her new book, Island Treasures: Growing Up in Cuba

September 30, 2015
DON HEINY FOR TIME FOR KIDS

 

Author Alma Flor Ada shares tales from her childhood in her new book, Island Treasures: Growing Up in Cuba. Readers will learn about Cuban traditions and customs through Ada’s vivid descriptions of her family and the island nation. She spoke with TFK about the book and her childhood in Cuba.

TFK:

Why did you want to share your personal stories in this book?

ALMA FLOR ADA:

Collecting memories is a way of keeping them alive. I also wanted to honor the people who had great influence in my childhood.

TFK:

What did you most like to do when you were a child?

ADA:

I loved to read and discover the world around me. I also liked to climb trees, eat fruit right from their branches, fly kites, and swim.

TFK:

Did you keep a journal or diary when you were a child?

ADA:

I never kept journals. But if I picture one moment, such as my grandmother cooking in the kitchen, I can remember the smells and the details of what was happening then. I use my senses to help me remember.

Alma Flor Ada is the author of Island Treasures: Growing Up in Cuba and many other books.

F. ISABEL CAMPOY
Alma Flor Ada is the author of Island Treasures: Growing Up in Cuba and many other books.

TFK:

Do these stories help you feel connected to your past?

ADA:

Absolutely. I cherish the memories of family members who are no longer here. I wanted my family now to get to know them.

TFK:

What do you miss most about Cuba? It’s so much in the news lately. Have you been back since you left?

ADA:

I have lived outside of Cuba since 1958, and I was not able to visit until 1980, when the U.S. gave me special permission to travel to Cuba for education reasons. It was very moving to see my uncles and other relatives after such a long time, and a fascinating experience to be able to witness directly all that had happened in art and education in Cuba during those 22 years.

TFK:

What would you like people to learn about Cuba from reading your book?

ADA:

I hope they get an impression of the beauty of Cuba and will decide to visit it one day.

TFK:

Why are memoirs important?

ADA:

They honor our life and the lives of those around us. They allow us to go back and continue learning from our own life. We derive strength from them.

TFK:

What advice do you have for people who want to write memoirs?

ADA:

Start any place. Just set yourself at the moment and time in your mind, and then try to remember a detail — something you saw, heard, smelled, or felt. Do not dismiss any detail, because a detail can be the entryway to a whole story. Be sincere and honest. Do not try to embellish. Truth has its own radiance.


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