The Red Umbrella

Christina Diaz Gonzalez, Knopf, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-375-86190-1
In this compelling, atmospheric first novel that begins in postrevolutionary Cuba, Gonzalez sketches the immigration experience of thousands of children sent to the United States through likable 14-year-old narrator Lucía. Initially, politics feel removed from Lucía’s life (“I was growing tired of constantly hearing about the revolution, but I privately thanked Castro for postponing my algebra test”). However, Gonzales believably escalates harrowing political events and their personal cost to Lucía’s family, as she finds the family doctor hung from an oak tree, and her father is detained after someone betrays the family’s hidden stash of money and jewelry. The situation forces Lucía’s parents to send Lucía and her seven-year-old brother, Frankie, to America while they await visas. Debut author Gonzalez excels at highlighting the cultural difficulties of their transition, as Lucía and Frankie eventually end up living with a foster family in rural—and quite foreign—Nebraska. Contemporary newspaper headlines such as the 1961 Nevada State Journal’s “Castro Adopts Brainwashing” lead each chapter and offer wider commentary. The memorable heroine and supporting cast offer a moving portrait of resilience and reinvention. Ages 10–up. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/03/2010
Release date: 05/01/2010
Library Binding - 284 pages - 978-0-375-96190-8
Open Ebook - 160 pages - 978-0-375-89628-6
Prebound-Other - 284 pages - 978-1-61383-017-8
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