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Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Red Umbrella by Christina Diaz Gonzalez

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. Suddenly the revolution hits home. 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-by themselves.

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?

The Red Umbrella is a moving story of country, culture, family, and the true meaning of home.

As of late I have grown quite fond of historical fiction and had high hopes for The Red Umbrella. Luckily, it did not disappoint.

Lucía was a wonderful main character, a young woman blossoming right on the cusp of the communist revolution in Cuba. Her strength was one of great envy, as was her spirit. She persevered and outlasted, always keeping sight of right and wrong. It was tragic having to read about her going through the revolution, watching all of her truths slowly slip away. Her constant devotion to protecting her loved ones and persevering was truly heartwarming.

As with much historical fiction, the thing that made this novel the hardest to read was the knowledge that Lucía’s story was a representation of what many real teen girls experienced. The destruction of her wonderful life in Cuba and the slow transformation and loss of those around her to the revolution was a struggle that many youths had to face. My heart broke not just for Lucía but for all the girls that had to endure similar experiences.

One of the qualities that I greatly enjoyed about this book was the melding of Lucía’s Cuban culture with that of the US. While I loved reading about Cuba and her life there, her time in the US was one of my favorite parts of the novel. The stark differences between her old life and her new life brought out a new side of Lucía and provided a window into her innermost thoughts. The best part, however, was how she assimilated into the culture of the US. It was a slow process and beautifully written, exposing all of her hopes and fears about the new, unknown country. Similarly, the melding of the Baxters with Lucía and Frankie was incredibly heartwarming. Being able to see the four of them grow together and become a family was by far the highlight of the novel.

I truly fell in love with Lucía, experiencing all of the ups and downs of her life both in Cuba and as a refugee in the US. Whether my heart was breaking for her or overjoyed by her successes, I enjoyed every minute of this wonderfully emotional novel.

5 Stars!

If you liked this, you may like...Sea by Heidi R Kling.

Source: 1 ARC Tours


  1. The Red Umbrella is one of my most-looking forward to books of 2010. I'm so glad you liked it. And thanks for the SEA mention too. :)

  2. Thanks for this review. The Red Umbrella sounds wonderful. It's always interesting readinb about assimilation into the U.S., sometimes funny and sometimes painfully sad. I love historical fiction and I can't wait to get my hands on this book!

    I also really want to read Sea :)

  3. Wow this sounds amazing. Adding it to my TBR list

  4. The Red Umbrella is one of the best children books ever written about the struggles of 14,000 Cuban children and their parent's quest for freedom. This is a book that every freedom loving parent must make sure that their children read it, so they can appreciate the freedom and liberties that we all enjoy.


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