Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Red Umbrella

The Red Umbrella
by Christina Diaz Gonzalez
In 1961, two years after the Communist revolution, Lucía Álvarez still leads a carefree life, dreaming of parties and her first crush. But when the soldiers come to her sleepy Cuban town, everything begins to change. Freedoms are stripped away. Neighbors disappear. Her friends feel like strangers. And her family is being watched.

As the revolution's impact becomes more oppressive, Lucía's parents make the heart-wrenching decision to send her and her little brother to the United States—on their own.

Suddenly plunked down in Nebraska with well-meaning strangers, Lucía struggles to adapt to a new country, a new language, a new way of life. But what of her old life? Will she ever see her home or her parents again? And if she does, will she still be the same girl? (description from 

An excellent historical fiction set in a time period, again, that I knew very little about... I vaguely knew that while Castro was in power a LOT of Cubans came to the US (thank you, Scarface, LOL), but I'd never heard about Operation Pedro Pan, which was a mission to save children from the Revolution. 

Lucy's story was heartbreaking and very realistically frightening.  She is continuously in danger in Cuba and sees things that no one should ever have to see. Then in an effort to keep her and her brother safe, Lucy's parents send them to America.  I could not imagine going to a foreign country without my parents, without knowing where I would end up, without being able to contact my parents to be assured that they were still alive, as a teen! Lucy's effort to keep her brother safe and with her is one of the bravest things I've ever read.  She truly perserveres through an immensely difficult situation to become a strong and brave young woman. 

I greatly admired the picture of family that is preeminent in this tale.  Lucy's parents are strong, involved figures, constantly putting the safety of their children first and refusing to back away from their own moral beliefs. They were excellent role models.  As were the parents in the foster family that Lucy joins.  My greatest joy in finishing this book was that Lucy and her brother essentially ended the book with two wonderful sets of parents to rely on.  It warmed my heart in a fantastic way.

Another book that I should have read much, much sooner.

Full disclosure: Borrowed from my library

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