This book is about growing up legally blind in Revolutionary Cuba in a time of peril and desperation. It is a story about sacrifice and selflessness in the face of adversity.
Iris illustrates Pedro’s journey of medical setbacks and the attempt to settle in a new land to be treated for his condition. It follows growing up in the turbulent 1960s, experiencing cultural change and political turmoil.
It is about overcoming limitations in education, becoming a young man, and winning the future. Last but not least, it is a tribute to his mother, who overcame her own obstacles and created a whole new life for herself.
In Iris, Pedro Hidalgo pays tribute to the selfless acts of mothers who knowingly and willingly give up their life in order to nurture a physically or mentally different child in this world.
He wants the world to know the selfless sacrifices and efforts that mothers of disabled children make every day, so a disabled child can have a fighting chance at living a fulfilling life.
He believes that disabled persons are just as capable of achieving in any profession just as any other individual. They can make great teachers, lawyers, business people, actors, and so on. He wants the world to understand this. Through his work, he strives to help his readers understand what it’s like to grow up with a visual disability while learning a new language, a new culture, and a whole new life.
Before Hidalgo crossed paths with Che Guevara, Guevara had already built a reputation when he fought against a right-wing military coup in Guatemala in Central America. There had been a popularly elected democratic government in the country when a right-wing coup overthrew it because of fears of communism. Che Guevara then made his way to Cuba, where he joined Fidel Castro in the mountains to push for revolutionary change in Cuba.
It was after the triumph of Fidel Castro and his revolution that he, along with his mother, was looking to come to the United States for medical treatment for his retinitis pigmentosa. As a result, they had to meet with him in order that he would approve a certain amount of money to be allowed for his mother to carry out of Cuba.
At that time, he had set the policy because he was president of the bank of Cuba, in which individuals could not take money out of the island. It was feared that if too much money had left the island, it could cause a financial collapse.
Therefore, through a family member who had been a member of the rebel forces, someone who knew Che Guevara was able to put them in contact with him in which they were allowed to plead their case. He did consent; however, it let loose a chain of events that the author describes in the book. That is how he came to meet Che Guevara.