Carlos Frías, an award-winning journalist and the American-born son of Cuban exiles, grew up hearing about his parents' homeland only in parables. Their Cuba, the one they left behind four decades ago, was ethereal. It existed, for him, only in their anecdotes, and in the family that remained in Cuba -- merely ghosts on the other end of a telephone.
Until Fidel Castro fell ill.
Sent to Cuba by his newspaper as the country began closing to foreign journalists in August 2006, Frías begins the secret journey of a lifetime -- twelve days in the land of his parents. That experience led to this evocative, spectacular, and unforgettable memoir.
Take Me With You is written through the unique eyes of a first-generation Cuban-American seeing the forbidden country of his ancestry for the first time. Take Me With You provides a fresh view of Cuba, devoid of overt political commentary, focusing instead on the gritty, tangible lives of the people living in Castro's Cuba. Frías takes in the island nation of today and attempts to reconstruct what the past was like for his parents, retracing their footsteps, searching for his roots, and discovering his history. The book creates lasting and unexpected ripples within his family on both sides of the Florida Straits -- and on the author himself.
Frías, today a special projects reporter for the Palm Beach Post, has been called one of the finest young journalists in the country. The Associated Press Sports Editors have awarded him seven top-10 awards in the past four years for his work on in-depth features and investigative stories. (The APSE award is similar to the Pulitzer for sports writers.) Among those, a Journal-Constitution three-day series examined the deaths of five high school athletes, and was submitted for a 2003 Pulitzer Prize.
A South Florida native who grew up just north of the Dade-BrowardCounty line, Frías gained the perspective of a boy born of Cuban exiles, but raised among the "gringos." He learned from watching the lights of Little Havana glitter in the distance and hearing the stories of Cuba stitched together in three decades of anecdotes. He says he is "assembled in America from Cuban parts." Fully bilingual, he travels easily between these two langauges and brings his unique cultural sense to his writings.
Frías, 31, resides in Pembroke Pines, Florida, with his wife, Christine, and their threedaughters, Elise, Amelia and Catalina Angeles.
"Take Me With You really does take you with it, on an unforgettable journey, not just to Cuba -- a forbidding place unlike any other on earth -- but also to that mysterious, nameless part of the human soul that yearns for home and for lasting bonds with kin. At once gritty and transcendent, this is one travelogue that soars. Frías lays bare his heart and in the process exposes the Cuba few tourists or journalists ever get to see: a labyrinth of ruins haunted by the ghosts of those who escaped from it." -- Carlos Eire, National Book Award-winning author of Waiting for Snow in Havana
"Carlos Frías pulls off a stunner. Take Me With You is more than a memoir. It's the immigrant's tale made whole -- leavened with compassion, spiced by family secrets, and driven by the hope that what was once broken can actually be pieced back together again. Yes, it's a portrait of Cuba today. But even better, Take Me With You holds up a mirror to America. Peer into it: I guarantee you'll find a piece of your family, your father, yourself here, too." -- S. L. Price, senior writer at Sports Illustrated and author of Pitching Around Fidel
"[Take Me With You] is a poignant personal journey in a superb debut book." -- The Indianapolis Star
"Take Me With You is a compelling narrative of a country that holds a strangely significant place in the minds of Americans." -- St. Petersburg Times
"Vividly descriptive and highly emotional, Frias' account will please those who know Cuban history, as well as the uninformed." -- Rocky Mountain News
"Frias's writing is emotional, his descriptions fresh." -- The Washington Post Book Review
"If you're Cuban-American, his story is yours. And if you're not Cuban-American, perhaps there's even more reason to dive into this honest insider's guide to the Cuban experience." -- Lydia Martin, The Miami Herald.
"It wouldn't matter if Frías was Irish or Italian or Martian. This is a compelling story about family. In its way, it's reminiscent of Rick Bragg's book about his mother, All Over but the Shoutin'. Like that book, it's a great story, well told. Frías's writing is elegant." -- William McKeen, Creative Loafing
"His very moving book, Take Me With You, reinforces my sense that by far the most enduring legacy of the Cuban revolution 50 years ago is the divided family." -- Lucy Ash of BBC Radio's "Outlook".
"With his sensitive, provocative, and mature portrait of the island his parents came from, Carlos Frías is in the forefront of la nueva nostalgia cubana." -- Tom Miller, author of Trading With the Enemy: A Yankee Travels Through Castro's Cuba