cover image The Bluest Sky

The Bluest Sky

Christina Diaz Gonzalez. Knopf, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-593-37279-1

Centering one family’s harrowing experience, Gonzalez (Invisible) sheds light on the Fidel Castro–ruled Cuba of 1980. Eleven-year-old Héctor knows that the only way to survive in Communist Cuba is to pretend to be a staunch Castro supporter—and to publicly renounce his father, who was imprisoned six years prior for speaking up about the country’s lack of freedoms. While trying to blend in, Héctor focuses on qualifying for this year’s International Math Olympiad, but the stain of his father’s actions threatens to hinder him. When the government opens the port of Mariel, making it possible for residents to leave Cuba, Héctor’s mother decides that the family will reunite with their father in Miami, where he was transferred via a political exchange, as soon as their exit visas come through. Héctor’s not interested in leaving, though, and his abuela, a powerful, Castro-supporting National Assembly delegate, vehemently opposes the act. Soon, word of the family’s plans to leave becomes public, and a crowd ambushes their house, leading to a tragedy that precedes further difficulties. Brimming with tumultuous events of Castro’s Cuba, Gonzalez’s affecting socio-political novel balances historical traumas with empathy and hope, tackling timely themes of personal beliefs and individual versus government freedoms. Ages 10–up. Agent: Jennifer Rofé, Andrea Brown Literary. (Sept.)

Correction: This review has been updated to adjust the author's last name.