In 1922, as the borders of Russia and Poland continued to shift and deadly pogroms were on the rise, life in the Jewish shtetls grew harder and harder. Sisters Pearl and Frieda Kahn's father scrimped and saved so that his daughters could find a better life in America, where their eldest sister was already living. But they were unaware that the U.S. had closed its door to Jews hoping to emigrate. The sisters were told that Cuba was more welcoming and that within a year, they'd have no trouble being admitted to America. Or, for the right amount of money, they could be smuggled into the country.
The character of Pearl is based on author Aaron Hamburger's grandmother. Hotel Cuba is a fictionalized version which details the journey of Pearl and Freida, who first live in Cuba and ultimately find their way to America. Frieda is the most anxious to leave Cuba and be reunited with her fiancé, who is living in Detroit. Pearl, who is a talented dressmaker, has the skills to work and save money for her passage. As poor immigrants, life is not easy no matter where they are. Pearl's strength and growth provides an engaging and interesting read. A well-researched and impactful book. Clearly a labor of love.
Rated 4 out of 5 stars.
Publication Date: May 2, 2023.
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