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Mestre-Reed, Ernesto. The second death of Unica Aveyano, a novel.

MESTRE-REED, Ernesto. The second death of Unica Aveyano, a novel. Random House, Vintage. 259p. c2004. 1-4000-3316-0. $13.00. A

Unica Aveyano, an elderly, terminally ill Cuban exile decides, during the furor over Elian Gonzales, to walk into the ocean (or, maybe, just walk to the ocean). One cannot always be sure what is going through the mind of Unica, or how reliable she is--least of all her husband, Modesto, who fell in love with her when she was a teenager and he a struggling public defender in Cuba. We learn of this courtship and other family liaisons in a series of flashbacks that swim in and out of Utica's sea of memory. After Castro comes to power, Utica and her family (minus her bisexual son) leave Cuba for the outpost of exiles, Miami. As the novel opens, Utica is in a nursing home, where she is in treatment for an acute form of leukemia. Her husband is with her, as the daughter-in-law, a successful businesswoman, has decreed it so. Her visit to the ocean precipitates a decision (again by the daughter-in-law) to send her to New York to a doctor who may save her life. She is accompanied on this journey of (as it turns out) misadventure by her husband, her grandson and her male nurse. The latter two end up in the doctor's house in Brooklyn as lovers, their most intimate moments noted with loving eyes by Utica.

The plot is loose enough for the reader to get lost from time to time, much as Utica is lost in magical Cuban memories. Old age and illness tare a back seat in this vehicle of family and friendship. It is with regret and admiration that the reader accepts Utica's decision to dispense with a second round of cancer treatments. Penelope Power, Libn., Garrison Forest Sch., Owings Mills, MD
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Copyright 2004, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Power, Penelope
Publication:Kliatt
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jul 1, 2004
Words:308
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