Thoughts Without Cigarettes - Oscar Hijuelos

This memoir from the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Oscar Hijuelos tells the story of his Cuban-American upbringing in New York City as his immigrant parents charted their own path in a new country. One fascinating subtext of Thoughts Without Cigarettes (Gotham, $27.50) deals with a serious illness Hijuelos experienced as a child and the pressures his condition exerted on a family already under strain. Hijuelos is best when describing how, trapped for years in a stifling job at an advertising agency, he latched onto his passion for writing, along with a few mentors who shepherded him along. I loved the honesty of the book, and the vivid and unvarnished memories Hijuelos shares even if, at times, I felt there were holes in the story.