The quirky travails of young Victor “Skinny” Delgado and his Cuban-exile family in Miami during the 1960s.

Cover of THE SKINNY YEARS by Raul Ramos y Sanchez

Surfers, soul brothers, hippies, and thugs — they’re all part of Victor “Skinny” Delgado’s world growing up in Miami during the turbulent 1960s. Fleeing the Castro regime in Cuba, Skinny’s once-wealthy family moves from a mansion in Havana to a roach-infested bungalow in Miami’s low-rent Wynwood district. Over the next ten years the Delgados struggle to survive in this strange new land—a place where fat men in red suits enter your home through the chimney, demons appear at the door begging for candy, and young women go on dates without chaperones. There’s only one constant in Skinny’s world as he grows from 8 to 18. He longs in vain for the girl of his dreams: his neighbor Janice Bockman who seems everything American—and everything he’s not.

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An Unexpected Gift


     Forty-eight years. That’s how long it had been since Victor last stood here. He looked around the walled courtyard, no more than ten paces wide, trying to see it through his eyes as an eight-year-old.

     In his memory, the courtyard alongside his home was a vast landscape shaded by white-trunked royal palms and hibiscus bushes higher than his head, fat with pink flowers. In the courtyard’s center, four stone paths met at a raised bed of orchids.

     Before Victor now was a barren, weed-choked patio next to a decaying mansion. The house’s once-white walls were crumbling and grimy with the patina of neglect that covered most of twenty-first century Havana.

     Glancing around to make sure he was alone, Victor dropped to one knee and pulled a zip-lock bag from his cargo shorts. As he shook the gray powder in the baggy onto the ground, a gust of wind carried a small cloud back toward him.

     He laughed softly, wiping the dust from his face. “I hope that’s not a sign you’re complaining, Mamá,” he whispered. “A sandwich bag may not be the way you imagined coming home. But it was the only way to keep my promise.” A tear trailed down his cheek, leaving a dark spot in the ashes. “Rest easy, viejita.”

     Standing up, Victor looked around again. Did the chubby eight-year-old who played here forty-eight years ago ever imagine the time would pass so quickly? Victor closed his eyes.

     A surge of dormant memories washed over him like a breaking dam. They were an unexpected gift. 


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