I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the COMING UP CUBAN by Sonia Manzano Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!
I received this book for free from Rockstar Book Tours, the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Coming Up Cuban: Rising Past Castro’s Shadow by Sonia Manzano
Published by Scholastic Press on August 2, 2022
Genres: YA Historical Fiction
Source: Rockstar Book Tours, the publisher
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, Audiobook
From Pura Belpré Honoree and Emmy-award winning actor Sonia Manzano–best known as “Maria” from Sesame Street–comes the expansive and timeless story of four children who must carve out a path for themselves in the wake of Fidel Castro’s rise to power.
Fifteen-time Emmy Award winner and Pura Belpre honoree Sonia Manzano examines the impact of the 1959 Cuban Revolution on four children from very different walks of life. In the wake of a new regime in Cuba, Ana, Miguel, Zulema, and Juan learn to find a place for themselves in a world forever changed. In a tumultuous moment of history, we see the lasting effects of a revolution in Havana, the countryside, Miami, and New York. Through these snapshot stories, we are reminded that regardless of any tumultuous times, we are all forever connected in our humanity.
When I signed up for this book I didn’t realize that it was a middle grade book. But honestly it wasn’t an issue at all for me. The way the book was written was engaging and kept me going. The chapters or sections within each character’s story were short enough, that when it was time for me to put the book down I’d tell myself just one more. But each one ended in a way that wasn’t necessarily a cliffhanger, but it made me want to go one more and one more chapter because I just needed to know what would happen next with these characters.
First was Ana’s story. Ana was Cuban and her father had fought with Fidel Castro’s revolutionaries and so they believed in what was being done. Until they saw some things that didn’t seem right, like people being lined up and shot for one example, and her father wrote to the paper about the issues. Soon one of the very soldiers he had fought with came and arrested him and took him to prison. From there her family had big decisions to make. She had 2 friends, one who left shortly after the revolution to go to America. The other who felt everything Castro did was justified, even with Ana’s father.
Second was Miguel, who is the grandson of one of Ana’s family acquaintances. He seemed to maybe come from a little bit better off family compared to her, but his story starts with him having been sent to American alone. So we see his time spent in orphanages and refugee centers. We see bullying that took place, and how the kids miss their families who are in the same situations as they are. He learns to do hard work, something he wouldn’t have done back home, and also learns that other people in maybe different situations, also might feel the way he does.
The third story was Zulema. We met her when farmers were invited to come stay in the city with different families, and her family stayed with Ana’s family. Ana gave her a book to take back with them. But because she could not read, it was just sitting there. In Zulema’s story, the Los brigadistas, or the teachers that Castro sent around to try to make his country 100% literate, stop where they live and decide to set up the school in her house. However at first Zulema’s father refuses. He does not want to see change, and does not want to do anything to get his family in trouble either when counter-revolutionaries start going around and killing these teachers. I’d heard about the teachers before, so this story did really grab me.
Finally we had Juan. He was the grandson of the fruit seller that Ana visited in her city. Juan’s best friend is Paco, or blood brother as they become at the beginning of the story. Paco is lonely to start because his parents have been gone for a couple weeks. They work for Castro. But when they come back, they get Paco to travel with them to help promote Castro. In Juan’s story we get to see a lot of how people began to snitch on each other to help themselves. We also got peeks into how people were trying to brainwash the kids, or even just the rhymes they had the kids reciting as they marched to become soldiers in Castro’s army.
I learned so many things from this book and I am an adult who should have learned so much of this when I was in school. My hope is that kids are learning more these days, if not, this is the type of book to help them learn about all sides of issues and past historical events. Even though it is middle grade level, I will probably be purchasing it for my high school library. I will possibly even recommend my 10 year old niece who is really into historical fiction give this one a try.
About the Author
SONIA MANZANO is a groundbreaking Latina educator, executive television producer, and award-winning children’s book author. A first-generation mainland Puerto Rican, she has affected the lives of millions of parents and children since she was offered the opportunity to play “Maria” on Sesame Street (which she continued to do for 44 years, from 1971-2015). Manzano has received 15 Emmys for writing television scripts, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Award, the Hispanic Heritage Award for Education, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Arts and Sciences. People magazine named Sonia one of America’s most influential Hispanics. Her critically acclaimed children’s books include The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano, which won a Pura Belpré Honor Award, and the stunning young adult memoir Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx. Currently she is working on Alma’s Way, an animated series with Fred Rogers Productions that will air on PBS. Manzano resides in New York City with her husband Richard Reagan, whom she married in 1986, and their daughter Gabriela.
1 winner will receive a finished copy of COMING UP CUBAN, US Only.
Ends August 9th midnight EST.a Rafflecopter giveaway
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