The Red Umbrella
Christina Diaz Gonzalez
272 pg (ARC, Author Notes)
Fourteen-year-old Lucia has a wonderful life; her dad has a lucrative position as the local bank and her mom is able to stay home with her and her brother, Frankie.
Frankie and Lucia have been enjoying Fidel Castro's imposed school vacation when soldiers show up in there town, bringing the revolution close to home. Children are expected to become brigadeers or their families are accused of being "anti-revolutionary" and subject to jail, or worse, execution.
Lucia's family is suddenly betrayed soon after she confesses secrets to her best friend, Ivette. Before the dust settles, Ivette is off teaching the peasants about the revolution while Lucia and Frankie are sent to America.
Christina Dia Gonzalez adds actual headlines to the beginning of each chapter of The Red Umbrella. This serves to not only move the story forward in time but to ground it in historical turmoil. We follow Lucia for almost a year, August 1961 - April 1962, as she grows from a naive child into a mature young lady. From being concerned about playing with her brother to a being interested in boys and fashion.
Good middle grade read about a time period most are not familiar with. There were so many things that happened to the children in one year that it makes it hard to believe, the author notes at the end coupled with the headlines serve to give the story more credence. I will definitely purchase this for the library and I'm hoping to get it used in the classroom as all students study "war time" and many look for more to read. I give this 3 1/2 copies.
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ARC supplied by 1 ARC Tours.