Publisher's Note:  

The Red Umbrella is the moving tale of a 14-year-old girl's journey from Cuba to America as part of Operation Pedro Pan—an organized exodus of more than 14,000 unaccompanied children, whose parents sent them away to escape Fidel Castro's revolution.


In 1961, two years after the Communist revolution, Lucía Álvarez still leads a carefree life, dreaming of parties and her first crush. But when the soldiers come to her sleepy Cuban town, everything begins to change. Freedoms are stripped away. Neighbors disappear. Her friends feel like strangers. And her family is being watched.


As the revolution's impact becomes more oppressive, Lucía's parents make the heart-wrenching decision to send her and her little brother to the United States—on their own.


Suddenly plunked down in Nebraska with well-meaning strangers, Lucía struggles to adapt to a new country, a new language, a new way of life. But what of her old life? Will she ever see her home or her parents again? And if she does, will she still be the same girl?


The Red Umbrella is a moving story of country, culture, family, and the true meaning of home.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Alfred A. Knopf

The Red Umbrella

by Christina Diaz Gonzalez

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Overall Review:  

Lucía loves her life in Cuba: a wonderful family, a best friend who loves fashion just as much as she does, a cute boy who seems to return her crush. Everything seems perfect, just what a girl on the cusp of her quinceañera could hope for. It all changes, though, as Fidel Castro's revolution becomes more intense. Suddenly, Lucía is exposed to horrifying truths—and she and her family have no one left they can trust. Lucía and her brother, Frankie, are faced with a new life—one they'd never even have imagined.


"The Red Umbrella" is a haunting story, based on the experiences of Christina Diaz Gonzalez' own parents. Lucía's voice was sweet and engaging, and I was quickly drawn into her story. At times the novel seemed to skip around a little too much, and I had a hard time connecting to some of the characters because of that, but overall I loved the way "The Red Umbrella" gave me a peek into the far-reaching effects of Castro's communist Cuba. Although the book deals with some difficult subjects, the story is gently told and well-suited to both older and younger teenagers.

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language: 1 derogatory term (a Cuban girl mispronounces the English word "beach" and is corrected.)


Violence/Gore: 2 scenes of mild violence (fist fights, etc). 2 scenes of non-detailed execution (two children see a soldier hold a gun to a man, and when they later hear a shot, assume that he has been killed; a girl sees a man who has been hanged in a public park).


Sex/Nudity: Characters flirt, dance together, hold hands, and kiss. A boy tries to force a girl into some sort of intimacy (how much is not implied) with him; she runs away.

Mature Subject Matter:  

War, communism, loss of freedom, children leaving parents, political unrest, betrayal by loved ones.

Alcohol / Drug Use:  


Reviewed By CindyB
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