Official Review: Citizen Cárdenas by Steve Cole

Please use this sub-forum to discuss any fiction books or series that do not fit into one of the other categories. If the fiction book fits into one the other categories, please use that category instead.
Forum rules
While in the forum's younger and less active days this used to be the one and only forum for "reviews and discussions about specific books", this is now just the subforum "other fiction" in a more well-organized "reviews and discussions about specific books" section with subforums for each genre. Check it out! :) Remember, the forums in the reviews section (including this forum) are for posting about a single book or series in topic, and the topic title should include the book's title. If you are creating a new topic, please try to post it in one of the other genres rather than posting it here in the "other fiction" section. This is only for books that do not fit in any of the other genre categories we have listed.
Post Reply
User avatar
Posts: 298
Joined: 21 Jan 2017, 18:30
Currently Reading: Oil and Marble
Bookshelf Size: 200
Reviewer Page:
Latest Review: Citizen Cárdenas by Steve Cole
Location: Bloemfontein, South Africa

Official Review: Citizen Cárdenas by Steve Cole

Post by Lest92 » 01 Mar 2018, 04:57

[Following is an official review of "Citizen Cárdenas" by Steve Cole.]
Book Cover
4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review

Steve Cole’s literary novel, Citizen Cárdenas, presents the story of a homeless Cuban immigrant, Jesus “Gato” Cárdenas surviving early 2000’s Chicago with the help of his chosen “Mami” and “Dadi”, Alexia and George Demas.

In the novel, Gato is described as “down, but never out,” and we meet him during a particularly luckless episode: Social Security wrongly assumes he died and would withhold his benefits cheque and back pay until he proves he is alive and well, which he can’t do without an identity document. With no documentation to rectify the mistake, he turns to George and Alexia for help. Since he lives in the park in their neighbourhood, Gato is familiar to them, and George decides to launch a one-man crusade against the bureaucracy on Gato’s behalf. George’s decision to help leads to tentative charity from the Demas household; they let Gato board with them a while, and he becomes more to them than just another vagrant in their neighbourhood. They start considering him a friend, though George, still curious, and growing suspicious as he tries disentangling all the red tape, wonders if he could solve the mystery of Jesus Cárdenas’s identity.

What hooked me right away is the novel’s substance and immediate depth. Citizen Cárdenas is a layered story; the characters’ motivations are conflicted, especially those of George and Alexia Demas. I sensed that Gato’s plight isn’t the only reason they wanted to help him back to his feet. Guilt seems to influence their compassion to a considerable degree. Why notice Gato now, after they’ve been aware of his difficulties for fifteen years? And what do we as readers do when asked to empathise with someone like Gato? Despite encountering these questions as I read the book, I don’t see Citizen Cárdenas as a didactic story. Despite his self-inflicted ill-health and intermittent homelessness, Gato is a charmer with a raffish dignity all his own.

The story alternates between the first-person perspectives of Gato, George and Alexia, as well as some of Gato’s associates. His friend Mamerto the poet’s viewpoints are particularly eloquent. Each character has a distinctive voice and offers a different facet of the story as it continues through time. Steve Cole is a careful observer of human nature and interaction, and he portrays his characters and their dialogue with a clear writing style. Citizen Cárdenas is professionally edited; I didn’t see any errors while reading the book.

Since I enjoyed this novel and saw nothing to fault, I rate it 4 out of 4 stars and recommend it to readers whose interest lies in literary novels and character-driven stories.

Citizen Cárdenas
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon

Like Lest92's review? Post a comment saying so!

User avatar
Special Discussion Leader
Posts: 4256
Joined: 31 Dec 2016, 20:31
2018 Reading Goal: 115
2017 Reading Goal: 100
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 27
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 94
Currently Reading: End of the Last Great Kingdom
Bookshelf Size: 159
Reviewer Page:
Latest Review: Jumping Over Shadows by Annette Gendler

Post by kandscreeley » 02 Mar 2018, 08:53

Well that would be horrible. SS claiming you died, and you have to prove you're alive to get the benefits. Interesting start to a novel. Thanks for the great review.
“There is no friend as loyal as a book.”
― Ernest Hemingway

User avatar
Posts: 181
Joined: 03 Feb 2018, 15:12
2018 Reading Goal: 560
2017 Reading Goal: 0
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 0
Currently Reading: The Mystic Masseur
Bookshelf Size: 13
Location: The Caribbean

Post by prettysmart » 02 Mar 2018, 13:36

I will definitely add this to my book collection due to its First person narrative writing style and its classical theme. Satisfying review!

User avatar
Sahani Nimandra
Trial Bookshelves Moderator
Posts: 552
Joined: 27 Nov 2017, 22:49
2018 Reading Goal: 100
2017 Reading Goal: 5
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 71
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 180
Favorite Book: <a href=" ... >Emotional Intelligence</a>
Currently Reading: Heartaches 2
Bookshelf Size: 173
Reviewer Page:
Latest Review: Heartaches 3 by H.M. Irwing
Location: Sri Lanka

Post by Sahani Nimandra » 02 Mar 2018, 20:33

Yish! Even now the pain of people is visible. This book reminds us about that dystopian past. Looking forward for a good read! Thank you for sharing!
Happiness is a cup of coffee and a good book!

Posts: 20
Joined: 09 Feb 2018, 13:05
Bookshelf Size: 18
Reading Device: B074WHDFCD

Post by Ida123 » 03 Mar 2018, 18:49

Rreally lovely and meaninful review, it makes this book a mus read.
Thank you dear for the review!

User avatar
NL Hartje
Posts: 491
Joined: 04 Jan 2018, 12:58
2018 Reading Goal: 30
2017 Reading Goal: 0
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 113
Favorite Book: Kushiel's Dart
Currently Reading: Air Awakens
Bookshelf Size: 375
Reviewer Page:
Latest Review: Expendable and Necessary by Ralph Harris
Location: Woodland Park, CO

Post by NL Hartje » 03 Mar 2018, 20:15

Yeesh, Chicago is rough enough let alone being homeless AND having the government brain fart. Thanks for the review!
“So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.”
-Dr. Seuss

User avatar
Kat Berg
Posts: 526
Joined: 05 Oct 2017, 22:29
2018 Reading Goal: 100
2017 Reading Goal: 100
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 11
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 8
Favorite Book: <a href=" ... 5">Raven's Peak</a>
Currently Reading: Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals by Immanuel Kant translated
Bookshelf Size: 212
Reviewer Page:
Latest Review: Becoming the Dragon by Alex Sapegin
Reading Device: B00JG8GOWU

Post by Kat Berg » 04 Mar 2018, 02:04

There seem to be lots of heavy topic books lately. I appreciate them, and I particularly like the question your review (and the book) poses to the reader: What are we going to do when we see suffering around us? It is a hard question to answer, and it seems that the author handles that question with honesty and respect.

Post Reply

Return to “Other Fiction Forum”