Author Flor Barrios returns to Cuba with her latest book, “Candela”

By Josie E. Davis

“Instinctively, she hugged her swollen belly and prayed to the orishas to protect her daughter. She had known it was a girl.”  And so launches forth the birth of Candela, the spiritual journey of one woman, Caridad, born in Cuba in the wake of a destructive house fire and what becomes the prelude to one family’s fatal passage to the Miami coast. Nearly half a decade later, Caridad “re-awakens” to an unsatisfying marriage; visits her brother and sister-in-law in Miami, discovering the truth about her family’s past; begins a new relationship with her neighbor, Chachi, the Cuban Santaria priestess who “sways … like a royal palm tree”; and with the help of a Santera priestess in Miami, is guided to Cuba to “complete the initiation she began when she was living with her mother.”

I like Candela for its vulnerability, the fluid awakening by which the characters find themselves and each other.  The book carves out memory and tradition the way that “spirituality and culture” are framed by existence – always redefined, shifting, and like its characters, the story is fine tuned to the intimate self.   Continue reading