Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Review: The Red Umbrella

The Red Umbrella
Christina Diaz Gonzalez
2010; Knopf; ISBN 978-0-375-86190-1 (hardcover)

Historical Period/Events: 1960s Cuba and America; Operation Pedro Pan

Summary:  Life for Lucia is good.  She has her best friend Ivette, she's close to her parents and her little brother Frankie, and Cuba is a good place to live.  There have been troubles since the revolution, though, but Lucia doesn't really understand why her parents are so worried.  Then her family is branded as anti-revolutionaries, open to mistreatment and theft.  Fearing for their safety, Lucia's parents send Lucia and Frankie to America.  Living in Nebraska with the Baxters, a kind older couple, exposes Lucia to many new things, most of which she likes.  But she worries about whether she'll ever see her parents again.

Based on stories from Christina Diaz Gonzalez's family, The Red Umbrella looks at how families tried to protect each other after the Cuban Revolution.  Life in Cuba and Nebraska is vividly portrayed and contrasted, from the warm tropical beauty of Lucia's first home to the apple-pie Americana of her second home.  Peppered with Spanish phrases, The Red Umbrella is an eye-opening look at a new immigrant's adjustment to a new country.  This historical novel will be enjoyed by readers who have read Margarita Engle's novels in verse about Cuban history and are eager for a more modern story.

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