Book: The Red Umbrella
Authoress: Christina Diaz Gonzalez
Publisher: Random House Release date: May 11, 2010
Available formats: Kindle, Hardcover
Goodreads: The Red Umbrella
Genre: Young Adult Fiction | Immigration
My preface: Call me crazy. Call me sentimental. But I was meant to read The Red Umbrella.
My summary: Two years after the communist revolution Lucia is still living the life of a normal teen; even looking forward to her quinceañero. But when the revolution finally makes it to her small town everything changes. People are dying for opposing the government, family is turning on family, and Lucia's family fears retribution. In an act of desperation Lucia's parents make the ultimate sacrifice when they decide to send their children to America. Now Lucia and her little brother Frankie are alone in the United States. Will she ever see her country, friends, and family again?
My story: Like Lucia, my own mother left Cuba when she was fourteen years old. While my mother fled with her family in the late 1960s, Lucia fled with only her brother in 1961. This is the story of her journey.
I knew the stories and I knew the hardships. I grew up with my mother telling me about the food rations and conditions. But it took Christina's book to help me really see Cuba through the eyes of a child. What I found there was a beautiful story of loss and the ties that bind. I gasped, cried, smiled, and cheered while reading this book.
My verdict: The Red Umbrella is beautiful, tender, heartfelt, and I recommend it to everyone.
My recommendation: Feel the salty breeze, sip some café con leche, and journey back to Cuba where you will learn about the Pedro Pan and the rise of Castro.
My star rating: 5 out of 5 stars; I love this book so much. I can not wait to buy a hardcover copy for my collection. One day when my baby niece is old enough to read YA - I am going to beg her to read this one.
- To set the scene, Christina begins every chapter with actual newspaper headlines regarding Cuba. Each chilling headline helps set the stage, pace, and urgency.
- Of all her beautiful descriptions this was my favorite: "It was a sunny day in Miami, exactly the same as in Cuba, but there was a difference. In Cuba, the air seemed to taste sweeter, as if there were mangoes growing nearby or your mother had just cooked your favorite dish. Here, although I was only a couple hundred miles away, everything felt more sterile, like I'd just walked into an office building."
My meter readings:
Kiddie-o-meter: How do you tackle the rise of tyranny with out dealing with some heavy subjects? You don't. You handle them with grace and delicacy. The Red Umbrella tackles some very serious mature issues (communism, socialism, violence, murder, and even minor mentions to rape) but I would not hesitate to put it in the hands of my niece or nephew. It is real issues handled in a way a child can manage.
Adult-o-meter: Adults who value coming-of-age tales with bits of historical fact will love this one.
My cover thoughts: Perfect! Once you read it, you will know what I mean.
My final say:
Thank you! With Lucia you helped me see Cuba the way my mami and abuelita did.
Truthfully, I feel as though you have given me a gift I will never be able to repay you for. I may drive down to Miami just to get your signature and shake your hand.
Thank you to 1 ARC Tours for making this review possible.
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