You know that moment in HP & the Deathly Hallows, when Ron shows up and yanks Harry out of the frozen pond and certain death? My writerly friends have all served as my Ron Weasleys today. *is full of thankfulness* *drips water on the floor* *you know who you are*
I had the pleasure of having a coffee at a Miami Starbucks with Christina Gonzalez, author of THE RED UMBRELLA, a Young Adult novel about a Cuban girl, coming of age during the Cuban Revolution and the Pedro Pan exodus, during which 15, 000 unaccompanied Cuban minors were sent to the United States, to wait out Castro’s regime. They are all still waiting. Christina is DELIGHTFUL and SMART and GORGEOUS. Talking with her felt like chatting with an old friend.
Yoani Sanchez is Cuba’s most prominent dissident. She wields a Smart Phone, a brilliant mind, enough knowledge of German to get into tourist-only internet cafés, and thus uploads scathing missives to her blog, Generation Y. Arrested, beaten, threatened, Yoani is still going strong. She is one of my heroes. Here is her book, HAVANA REAL, newly translated in English.
Teresa Dovalpage’s HABANERA is a sweet, achingly authentic read. The protagonist, Longina, is a teenager like any other, in the midst of national and familial turmoil. She is a character drawn to the stories of the family’s past, bound up in a mysterious manuscript written by her great-grandmother, and a mausoleum in a cemetery in Havana. Yet she turns her eyes to the future, hoping for a different kind of Cuba.
As Longina struggles to adapt to the changes on the island, the love of her relatives, as strange as they are, keep her whole. This last seems to be Teresa Dovalpage’s most important point—a child that knows love will be all right in the end. Longina is a young narrator readers will like tremendously, and through her eyes, will learn a great deal about this trying time of Cuba’s history, and the saving power of a family’s love.