Reviewer Amy Lignor: Amy is the author of a historical fiction novel entitled The Heart of a Legend, and Mind Made, a work of science fiction. Presently, she is writing an adventure series set in the New York Public Library, as well as a teen fiction series, The Angel Chronicles. She is an avid traveler and has been fortunate to have journeyed across the USA, where she has met the most amazing people, who truly bring life and soul to her books. She lives in the Land of Enchantment (for now) with her gorgeous daughter, Shelby, her wonderful Mom, Mary, and the greatest friend and critic in the entire world - her dog, Reuben
Author: Christina Diaz Gonzalez
Author: Christina Diaz Gonzalez
Books like this are the ones that make you really appreciate the fact that you’re an American. Even though people like to complain about how many things are wrong in this country, we do still have freedom…we do still have the power and the opportunity to make our children’s lives better than our own.
In this fantastic story, the author has given us a look into her own past. Her parents were a part of Operation Pedro Pan in the 1960’s, which was a U.S. plan that helped bring Cubans into America during Castro’s communist revolution that sacrificed and destroyed so many hard-working families.
In this novel we meet Frankie and Lucy; siblings who are hanging out at the beach near their home in Puerto Mijares. Their lives are seemingly very simple and carefree, as they play in the waves and watch the beautiful herons soar through the clouds above. On this particular day, a loud noise appears, and the kids see the long line of army vehicles descending on their small town. Lucy, of course, isn’t really too upset, seeing as that nothing ever happens in her small town. In fact, she and her friends feel as if they’re a million miles away from anything to do with the so-called revolution that so many are up in arms about.
Soon the kids go home and enter an eerily dark house where Mom and Dad are huddled together at the kitchen table listening to the news on the radio. Strangely for Lucy, her parents seem to be quite upset with the news, and order her and her brother to stay inside the home until things “calm down” in the world around them. School has also been closed, and Lucy’s friends seem to be all engrossed in various social organizations and going to “meetings” that her own parents are forbidding her to join. As the world begins to turn upside down, Frankie and Lucy come across a few soldiers in back of the high school…shooting and killing their father’s boss from work. Another incident that scares Lucy to her very core is when she walks into town one day to pick up medicine for her brother and sees the local Doc hanging from a tree. People who were once friends become enemies, and families turn against their own, as their beliefs become immersed in the communist revolution that Castro is forcing on his people.
Desperately, her parents try to get them out of Cuba before it’s too late, and end up getting them on a plane to the United States. Lucy and Frankie are offered beds in a facility in Miami, but are soon sent to live with the Baxter’s in Nebraska. The Baxters’ are a wonderful couple, filled with love for the two children, and soon Frankie and Lucy find their lives changed for the better. The only thing missing? They want nothing more than to see their Mom and Dad again, and the fear of their parents being stuck behind in that horrible country scares Lucy to her very core.
The title of this story comes from a wonderful item that Lucy and Frankie’s mother carried with her. Although red was called the color of the revolution, their mother’s umbrella was red because she believed that color was the color of strength in a world where she needed to be strong more than anything else. The kids saw this red “spot” when they looked down through the windows of the plane that was transporting them away from the only home they’d ever known. That one red “spot” in the crowd of parents giving up their children, stuck with Lucy and Frankie, and made them believe that their family – no matter what happened – would somehow find a way to be together again.
My conclusion is this…life is extremely hard sometimes, but one can only imagine the horrific difficulties, pain, and agony that good people had to go through when Castro wielded his mighty power over their heads. Readers will not only feel for Lucy and her brother, but the story will also show in no uncertain terms that being a teenager may be difficult, but not nearly as difficult as being a teenager during the 1960’s, and fleeing your homeland in order to stay alive. This story will make all YA readers extremely grateful for their “everyday” problems and triumphs.