Farewell Cuba, Mi Isla

S. & S./Paula Wiseman. Sept. 2023. 336p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781534495401.
Gr 4-7–Twelve-year-old Victoria Pino del Mar would love to spend the rest of her life living on Papalfonso’s finca, where she could spend her days enjoying the beauty of nature, horseback riding, and delicious fruits. Papalfonso promised Victoria that his land would one day be hers, but that was two years ago, when Papalfonso was still alive. Now in 1960, Victoria is boarding a plane to Miami, leaving behind family members, including her best friend and cousin Jackie, as Fidel Castro’s Cuba becomes an even more uncertain and dangerous place. Victoria and Jackie narrate the chapters, showing the differing viewpoints of the girls as Victoria navigates a new and different city and takes on more responsibilities to care for her family, and Jackie sees the world change around her as school becomes a dangerous place and the future is even more uncertain. When Jackie finally joins Victoria, they work together to try to get the rest of their family to Miami. Readers will become part of each family’s dynamic and witness as the protagonists come face to face with hardships such as bullying, loss, and the unraveling of Cuba in the 1960s.
VERDICT Heartfelt and beautifully written, this middle grade novel is perfect for fans of Margarita Engle and of impactful historical fiction.

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