Bittersweet Memories of Last Spring is a historical fiction novel that follows a young immigrant named Yrvin Lacroix on his tumultuous journey from Haitian refugee to fully integrated Haitian-American.
This novel is penned by the illustrious Dr. Ardain Isma, Chairman of the Center for Strategic of Multicultural Studies. He is a champion for immigrant rights and does focused charity and awareness work for his homeland, Haiti. His writing career glitters with many achievements, including his work as Chief-Editor for CSMS Magazine and the NSU (Nova Southeastern University) TESOL journal. His other publications include Midnight at Noon and Alicia Maldonado: A Mother Lost. The sequel for Bittersweet Memories of Last Spring is currently in the works. He also runs a YouTube channel titled The Conversation where he interviews authors and grows the writing community "conversation" through his insights as an author.
Bittersweet Memories of Last Spring opens with Yrvin's perilous journey from Haiti to Miami. Immediately, the reader is tossed into Yrvin's plight and sees the full force of his desperation to reach the United States and start a new life. At times, it can be hard to remember that Yrvin is a young man due to the challenges he faces as an immigrant navigating a new country and new way of living. While Yrvin has familial support from his Uncle Phillipe, many cousins, and especially his older sister Nana, Yrvin faces life in The States without his parents. His father works in the Bahamas to bring in money to support Yrvin's brothers, younger sister, and mother who are still living in Haiti. Many things we take for granted are luxuries for Yrvin and his older sister Nana; such as parental support and financial security. Together, this brother-sister duo band together as a support system to ensure a roof is over their heads and food is on the table. But this is not without many sacrifices along the way.
The goal of creating a better life is the goal of most immigrants who make the journey to The States, and Yrvin is no different in that regard. He passes his ESL high school education with flying colors and enrolls at Barry University to pursue a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Sciences. The fact that Yrvin is multi-lingual (Creole, French, English, and begins to learn Spanish) on top of learning computer coding languages is nothing short of incredible. Yrvin is a caricature of all the hard-working immigrants that have to not only learn the language and way of life, but often have to learn new skills in order to make it in this fast-paced and unforgiving country.
He is spurred on to excel in his education due to the continued suffering of his family and countrymen back home in Haiti. Yrvin participates in local community events and rallies in support of Haitian independence from the Duvalier Regime aka "Baby Doc". Throughout the story, we encounter the constant struggle of racism, classism, and colorism that Yrvin and his fellow Haitians experience both in The States and in Haiti. These issues are tackled not just in the Duvalier Regime, but also in Yrvin's fellow classmates and other characters that he interacts with in the storyline. These issues are explored in their complexity in that there are different levels of racism and different ways that it needs to be handled. Dr. Ardain Isma does a wonderful job of showcasing these intricacies in being a product of our upbringing and environment, and the challenge to fight to do better.
While reading this story, it is important to remember the time period (1980s) and differences in culture, especially with Caribbean machoism. Some aspects of the story can make readers uncomfortable when it comes to how relationships are handled, and it is important to remember cultural context in how these relationships work. Yrvin is a young man experiencing college and all the fun and hard work it has to offer. That includes pursuing romantic relationships. This can be a sensitive subject for some, as there is heartbreak and betrayal, but ultimately, the story will have you rooting for Yrvin and hoping that love will conquer all.
Overall, Bittersweet Memories of Last Spring is a wonderful lens into the struggles of Haitian immigrants and the immigrant story at large. Yrvin is a flawed character who grows and learns throughout the story while never giving up his dogged determination to make a life for himself and his family through the power of higher education and hard work. I highly recommend this story, whether you're looking for an intense read that will suck you in, or if you're curious about the plight and history of Haitian immigrants living in Miami.
You can find Dr. Ardain Isma's works here:
Bittersweet Memories of Last Spring: https://www.amazon.com/Bittersweet-Memories-Last-Spring-Ardain/dp/B0B8R3MRVP/
Midnight at Noon: https://www.amazon.com/Midnight-at-Noon-Ardain-Isma/dp/1626322430/
Alicia Maldonado: A Mother Lost: https://www.amazon.com/Alicia-Maldonado-Mother-Ardain-Isma/dp/0595303218/