"The Red Umbrella"
by Christina Diaz Gonzalez
Pub. Date: May 11, 2010
Synopsis: The Red Umbrella is the moving tale of a 14-year-old girl's journey from Cuba to America as part of Operation Pedro Pan—an organized exodus of more than 14,000 unaccompanied children, whose parents sent them away to escape Fidel Castro's revolution.
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?
If it had not been for the 2010 Debut Author Challenge, I wouldn't have picked up this book and I would have missed out on a great book! I hadn't heard about Operation Pedro Pan and I honestly didn't know much about Fidel Castro's revolution, so I really enjoyed learning about this period in history. I love how Lucia is just your average teenage girl making her very relatable. You can see yourself in her situation thinking about boys, gossiping with your friends and then all of a sudden seeing horrors you thought happened in other parts of the world. The safe streets you walk down every day now have troops with guns. Your friends are moving out of their parents house to support the revolution and you aren't allowed out of your house because your parents fear for you safety.
This book had many parts that were heartbreaking, but it was also uplifting and even funny at times. I really enjoyed reading about the time Lucia and her brother spent in Nebraska. Even though they were away from their parents, they were able to make the best of a bad situation. It was also interesting to see how Lucia's family morphed throughout the book. She started with a very typical family; a mother, father, and brother who loved each other very much, but all this changed when her parents realized they must send their children away for their safety.
This book is all about hope in tough situations and finding family where you least expect it. I really enjoyed how Gonzalez was able to tell a sad story without it being overwhelmingly depressing. I feel like she really balanced the good with the bad. Many children had to be seperated from their families during this part of Cuba's history, but Gonzalez was able to highlight the amazing story of how these children were successfully brought to America with the hopes of starting a new life where their. parents could one day join them.
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