This week I am getting a bit behind in reviews. It is the last week of school before holiday break for me (my kids have to go 3 days next week), and while I have been doing a lot of reading, I also made the mistake of stopping at the library yesterday on my way home. I went there with the intent of returning a book that was due, and ended up with seven to take home. All good loot, but when am I going to find time for them?
Two days ago I devoured The Red Umbrella by Christina Diaz Gonzalez. This has been on my radar for a while, and happens to be the second book about the Pedro Pan Project in Cuba that I have read this year. During 1961-1962 while Fidel Castro was staging his revolution, over 14,000 children were sent to the United States as their parents feared for their safety and the teachings that Castro had in mind for them. While many were reunited with their parents, some were not, or had to wait years to see them again. Gonzalez's story is based on her own mother, father, and mother-in-law's stories, having been a part of the mass of children sent out of Cuba. Lucia and her brother Fernando are enjoying their Cuban childhood, and despite the Revolucion, don't see many ways they are impacted by it yet. Their parents won't let Lucia or Fernando join any of the political groups that have formed for children, putting Lucia at odds with her best friend. After witnessing her father's boss being executed, Lucia becomes a bit more aware of what is going on in her country. Several other events occur as well, forcing her parents to find a way to send Fernando and Lucia to the United States. While longing for their family, the two are adopted out to a kind, middle aged farm family in Grand Island, Nebraska. There are many life style differences between Nebraska and Cuba, and the two children find it difficult at first, but realize the kindness of the people that have taken them in. As they wait for their parents, Lucia and Fernando experience snow, the Christmas traditions of their family, and attend school.
I am glad I read this one about Pedro Pan last because it was by far a more enjoyable book for me. As a lover of historical fiction for youth, I enjoyed all the details about life during the 1960s in the United States. Lucia was such a likeable character and so easy to relate to, and the Pedro Pan Project is also such an interesting event. The first book I read on this topic, 90 Days to Havana, was fast paced and contained a great deal of action and suspense, the Red Umbrella, tells the story of a normal family affected by Fidel Castro's rise to power. This book explained in a clear way more about how Castro came to power and about the way in which he started to take control of his country.
This one is going to the top of my stack for recommendations for friends, co-workers, and students.