I wanted to tell a story about a gay child growing up in a culture that believed keeping secrets was the socially acceptable thing to do, and where child abuse and mental illness were never acknowledged or discussed. I wanted to explore cause and effect, and to show how traumatic events in a child’s life linger on to resurface once and again.

This required the story to move between the child’s most intimate thoughts and a wider, more panoramic view of his world. This required the narrative to show how the bewildered child makes the wrong decision at nearly every turn.

While much of what happens in this novel is based on my own life experience, I understood from the beginning that a memoir could never fully convey what I wanted to express in the way a novel could. The characters I created exist to support the narrative arch; they do not represent an individual. Rather, they represent the depth and breadth of the Cuban society I remember from my early life.

Likewise, places have been left undefined to prevent the realities of the physical world from rooting the reader to a particular locale. I wanted readers to visualize a universe that is only bound by the limits of their imagination.

To be sure, some of the scenes in this novel will be difficult to read, but this first-person narrative works to illustrate what the young boy sees and feels, describing specific situations in the limited language of a child. 

An eight-year-old does not know the meaning of assault, and this novel should never be interpreted as an endorsement of child abuse. To the contrary, I wanted to show all the damage that such adult actions and the ensuing silence, ignorance, and denial have on a child.

I also wanted to show how a young man of seventeen was able to use all his experiences to navigate through his own trauma and become a functioning adult. I wanted the reader to walk away believing in determination and hope.

I wanted to share my belief that though life is never perfect, it is indeed possible to step into the void, to endure it, and to survive.

This is not a story about one boy’s life, but a story about ten, one hundred, a thousand, a million boys’ lives.