Synopses & Reviews
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.
"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 Luca. Initially, politics feel removed from Luca's life ('I was growing tired of constantly hearing about the revolution, but I privately thanked Castro for postponing my algebra test'). However, Gonzales believably escalates harrowing political events and their personal cost to Luca'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 Luca's parents to send Luca 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 Luca 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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Inspired by the experience of her parents, Gonzalez tells the story 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.
About the Author
Christina Diaz Gonzalez based this powerful novel on the experiences of her parents, and of the more than 14,000 other unaccompanied minors who came to the United States through Operation Pedro Pan. This mass exodus of children is a little-known and fascinating piece of history, and Gonzalez has created a story that brings that history vibrantly to life.
Gonzalez practiced law for several years before returning to her childhood passion for stories and writing. The Red Umbrella is her first novel.
Christina Diaz Gonzalez lives in Miami, Florida, with her husband and two sons. You can visit her on the Web at www.christinagonzalez.com.