The Red Umbrella by Cristina Diaz Gonzalez

13 Dec

Lucía, 14,  lives in Cuba just as Castro begins his take over. She wants to grow up and be more independent. She wants some space. She doesn’t want to be treated like a baby, like her 7 year old brother Frankie.

She is more concerned about fashion and parties than politics.  But that’s not true of school friends who are swept up by the movement, joining the youth brigade and become brainwashed. In quick  order things change. She finds their beloved pharmacist hanging from a tree in the local park. Her father loses his job. Her uncle turns on them. Lucía is suddenly becoming more grown up, and not the way she wanted to be.

Her parents enrolled Lucía and her brother in the Pedro Pan Program, which arranged for children to leave Cuba for the US. Suddenly, Lucía and her Frankie, are in Maine, then quickly transferred to Nebraska and living with the Baxters until their parents can come.

Nebraska isn’t Cuba. It’s cold. There’s snow. The food is different. Lucía is no longer the well dressed, rich girl. She’s wearing hand me downs. She has trouble fitting in. High school kids, then as now, are wary of the new kid, especially when she has an accent. Frankie has it easier. He’s little and he likes to play ball.

The year goes slowly as they follow the political turmoil in their homeland and pray for their parents safety.


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