Book Review: La Finca: Love, Loss, and Laundry on a Tiny Puerto Rican Island by Corky Parker

Posted June 26, 2023 by lomeraniel in Audiobooks, Memoirs, Review / 0 Comments

Book Review: La Finca: Love, Loss, and Laundry on a Tiny Puerto Rican Island by Corky ParkerLa Finca: Love, Loss, and Laundry on a Tiny Puerto Rican Island by Corky Parker
Narrator: Corky Parker
Published by Lantern Audio on 01-03-23
Genres: Memoirs
Length: 6 hrs and 58 mins
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon/Audible
Overal Rating: four-stars

Many people fantasize about leaving the rat race behind for a tropical island. That's what Corky Parker did . . . sort of.
At age forty, Parker surrendered to her Swept Away meets Swiss Family Robinson fantasy of running an inn far from her home in the Pacific Northwest. She bought a group of cabins built by women in the hills of a small island in the Caribbean, and for the next twenty-plus years she and her family split their time between Seattle, where they operated a thriving media business, and what became La Finca Caribe, their eco-lodge in Vieques, Puerto Rico.
Over the years La Finca Caribe, or "the Caribbean farm," grew into a paradise of fruit trees, mockingbirds, and ocean breezes enjoyed by guests from around the world. Sketchbook in hand, Parker began to write, draw, doodle, paint, and collage a chronicle of her daily experiences as she learned from the land and from local Puerto Ricans, all while working to overcome her cultural naivete. The result is a lively, fully illustrated graphic memoir about a woman creating a new life amid wild animals, political upheaval, environmental challenges, the dot-com bust, divorce, and hurricanes, especially the destruction wrought by Hurricane Maria, which led Parker to reconsider everything.
Ultimately La Finca is a classic, unique story about trusting oneself, self-discovery, accepting disappointment and loss, and falling in love with a place.

When I first started listening to La Finca, I anticipated lighthearted tales set on a remote island similar to those found in Gerry Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals. However, Corky Parker’s book offers much more depth, chronicling her life experiences from her 30s, prior to acquiring La Finca, all the way through her sixties. While the story isn’t solely focused on Corky’s property in Vieques, it provides a glimpse into the growth of her children, her marital struggles, and her husband’s company’s financial difficulties. Initially, I expected the book to revolve around Corky and her family’s move to a secluded island, sharing their story of a slower-paced life. Instead, La Finca turned out to be a part-time project with property managers overseeing it for a significant portion of the year.

I found La Finca to be an incredibly inspiring memoir, appreciating Corky’s honesty and openness in recounting her experiences.

However, the book felt more like a collection of memories than a cohesive narrative centered on a remote island property, which was my initial expectation. While the anecdotes were captivating, I couldn’t help but feel there was a missed opportunity to create a more cohesive story by delving deeper into each tale and allowing them more space to breathe. Descriptions and character development would have enhanced the stories, as I sometimes forgot who the author was referring to with only a brief mention.

I would also recommend that the author avoid using words like ‘insane’ or ‘suicidal’ and opt for more appropriate and less triggering alternatives.

Additionally, I noticed that the memoir is written in the present tense, which struck me as a somewhat peculiar choice. I personally found it distracting and would have preferred a more conventional use of past tense for a memoir format.

Corky’s narration throughout the book was excellent, displaying clear diction and rhythm. Although the sound quality was generally good, there were occasional background noises that should have been edited out in the final mix.

La Finca was an incredibly engaging read, filled with emotive and poignant moments. It vividly portrays the struggles and hardships faced by a remarkable woman, offering a compelling exploration of the human spirit in the face of adversity. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in a captivating story that delves into the complexities of life’s challenges.

Story (Plot)
Overall: four-stars