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Reviewed by Elisabeth Dorsette-GauthierDr. Ardain Isma’s novel, Alicia Maldonado: A Mother Lost, is filled with a vast array of emotions: love, anger, betrayal, disappointment, fear, pain, jealousy and sadness, to name a few.  This almost unbelievable story is an illustration of one of the most important lessons in life- forgiveness. Alicia Maldonado is the story of a woman whose life has been filled with turmoil since her arrival in Haiti from Cuba as a child until her untimely death, almost 50 years later in Miami.  Alicia’s life journey has many uncertain steps and pitfalls along the way.  Her life is truly a dramatic one, encompassed with poor judgment, bad decisions and selfishness.  Alicia becomes so evolved in the dilemma she has created that she can no longer go back to her life in Haiti and the children she left behind, whom she loves so dearly. Never truly getting over the death of her first husband, Alicia begins tobelieve that the Lord is punishing her. That causes her to sink into a depression.  She reluctantly takes a second husband, who later has an affair with a vivaciously sexy married lady who lives next door. Alicia is unable to forgive him and as a result of her lack of forgiveness, she runs away from Haiti and moves to The Bahamas, taking her young son and leaving her two daughters behind. She runs to The Bahamas where she gets involved with a man and has his child. Unfortunately the man meets an untimely death, making Alicia feel that the Lord is in fact punishing her.  Alicia eventually ends up in Miami. There, life for her is anything but easy; she is still carrying the pain of her first husband’s death, the betrayal of her adulterous second husband and the fact that she left her children behind, knowing they may never understand her reasons for leaving and never forgive her motives.  Despite Alicia’s pain and depression, she still has two children to raise, but finds herself unable to do a good job at it. Alicia’s pain is almost unbearable until one rainy day, some twelve yearslater, when she is found. Hearing of Alicia being alive brings both joy and sadness to the people who love her, after they thought she was dead.  They are happy to know she is alive and well, but saddened to know that someone they love so much could betray them in such a manner. Her daughters whom she left as children are now adults.  They find itdifficult to forgive her, as she has missed out on the majority of their lives. Eventually they are able to forgive their mother, although unable to fully understand the logic behind her reasons for leaving without a trace. Their reconciliation is not easy, but it triggers the road to forgiveness. Alicia Maldonado: A Mother Lost is a nicely written book, which iscaptivating at times.  The novel evokes every emotion of its reader.  In the end one feels as if he knows Alicia Maldonado, and he could relate to the pain she was experiencing, as well as the pain she puts those dearest to her.  This novel is easily read, and once one picks it, it is extremely hard to put it down. The book is illustrative of Haitian culture and is set in a time when Haiti was peaceful, the way many older Haitians remember their country—a Haiti to which they would love to return. The book explains the culture of class according to color, something I neverknew about, being non-Haitian. My only contention with this novel is the depiction of Bahamians.  Being a Bahamian married to a man of Haïtian heritage, I know that Haitians in The Bahamas are not discriminated against in the way the novel portrays.  The Bahamas Islands have a high population of Haïtian nationals, who have been successfully integrated into the Bahamian Society. Although this novel is filled with pain and sorrow, it is somehow veryenjoyable.  It is emotionally educational, teaching us the necessity to forgivebefore it is too late.This novel is very well recommended.  You should read it!Note: Elisabeth Dorsette-Gauthier is a writer and contributor to the monthly magazine Panacea. She lives and works in Southwest Miami.Follow this links for more info about the book: http://www.themulticulturalgroup.com/books.html

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