cover image Cuba in My Pocket

Cuba in My Pocket

Adrianna Cuevas. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-374-31467-5

Cuevas (The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez) excavates family history to illuminate the Cuba of 1961 during Fidel Castro’s reign. Cumba, 12, his family, and the other citizens of Cuba are attempting to adjust to the new order after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion a week before, living in fear of “Fidel’s oppressive government” and soldiers. With the threat of Cumba getting drafted into the military, his family sends him to the United States alone. When Cumba arrives in Florida, he must learn to navigate his new home, school, and language, as well as the wave of homesickness that follows. His only respite is his new friends, fellow Cuban refugees Valeria and Alejandro, and letters from his younger brother, Pepito. But when bad news from home reaches Cumba as he is forced to start over again, he spirals into self-doubt and the guilt of leaving his family behind. Cuevas packs this sophomore novel with palpable emotions and themes of friendship, love, longing, and trauma, attentively conveying tumultuous historical events from the lens of one young refugee. Back matter features an author’s note and glossary. Ages 8–12. (Sept.)