Can you believe it? The Red Umbrella will be out in the world next week! Obviously the reviewers know this too becuase today I got two big reviews...Publisher's Weekly and School Library Journal (*spoiler alert* - they were really good reviews). I'm in the middle of trying to figure out what to wear to my book launch party on Saturday, so I'm just going to post the reviews here for you to read. Thanks for sharing this entire experience with me!
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, Gonzalez 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)
School Library Journal:
GONZALEZ, Christina Diaz. The Red Umbrella. 288p. Knopf/Borzoi. May 2010. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-375-86190-1; PLB $19.99. ISBN 978-0-375-96190-8. LC number unavailable.
Gr 6–9—Fourteen-year-old Lucía lives an easy middle-class life in 1961 Cuba, thinking only about clothes, boys, and dances. When Communist revolutionaries occupy her town, an escalating witch hunt against capitalists compels her parents to send her and her brother to the U.S. under the care of the Catholic Welfare Bureau (as part of "Operation Pedro Pan," which—the endnotes explain—was the largest-ever exodus of unaccompanied children in the West). Lucía eventually settles with a foster family in Nebraska, where she comes to terms with her dual identity as a Cuban exile and an American teen. She must also piece together a picture of what's happening to her parents and friends at home from interrupted phone calls, censored letters, and newspaper articles. This well-written novel has a thoroughly believable protagonist and well-chosen period details. It should be noted, however, that Gonzalez portrays the single sympathetic Communist character as increasingly brainwashed. Few readers will recognize the polemics driving this convincing story, but as an introduction to the history and politics of the Cuban-exile community, it could generate some excellent classroom discussions.—Rhona Campbell, Washington, DC Public Library