Loving Che is Ana Menéndez's first novel. The narrator is an unnamed Cuban woman raised in Miami by her maternal grandfather. She knows little of her mother who sent her off to America with her grandfather when she was just a baby. All she knows of her mother Teresa is that she sent her off with a Neruda poem pinned to her blanket. As an adult, after her grandfather's death, she returns to Havana hoping to find her mother but her search comes up empty. Some time later she receives a package without a return address. From the writings and photos it contains she gradually pieces together the story of her mother's marriage to an academic and her adulterous affair with the revolutionary Che Guevara. The chaos of revolutionary Havana is the backdrop of their erotically charged relationship. But is it real or merely a figment of her artist mother's active imagination?
This book is about the loneliness of the expatriate, the longing for identity and the reliability of memory. It's a romantic love story and a mystery with a dreamy feel. I have an interest in Cuba, in Che and the revolution so I enjoyed this novel. I only wish I'd read it in Cuba.