The promises Fidel Castro made in 1959 haven’t materialized for Tomas’ generation of Cubans. There are food shortages, a war in Angola fueled by soldiers as young as 16 and little opportunity for life to improve. Tomas’ every misstep is recorded in a civilian passport that affects his chance for schooling, job prospects and even rations. He hasn’t joined the Young Pioneers, the revolutionary commitment expected of all young people.
Tomas Santos just wants to be an artist. But that’s not likely in 1980 Cuba. His girlfriend Gabriela is the daughter of his father’s worst enemy and may be a spy. Only his brother Antonio’s baseball glove comforts him when life is overwhelming until Tomas learns it’s been part of Antonio’s initiation into Santeria, an Afro-Cuban religion that uses spells, divination and sacrifice to appease capricious deities. Then he’s told Antonio was killed in Angola. Tomas will be 16 in a few weeks. Gabriela’s father has promised to see he gets drafted and sent to Angola.
Tomas needs to escape from Cuba, but what if his dead brother won’t let him go?