Feminist and Abolitionist

When asked to deliver contraband papers to her native island home of Cuba in 1852, twenty-year-old Emilia Casanova gulped audibly in a most unladylike manner. This was her chance to be in the thick of the rebellion against Spanish authority something she had always dreamed of instead of on the sidelines more befitting someone of her station. Even though she would be branded a traitor and endanger her family if she was caught, she pushed her fear aside and accepted the mission.

Back in Cuba following her first summer abroad, distributing seditious propaganda isn’t as easy as it had seemed while in New York. But she honors her commitment to the Junta Cubana, a group of Cuban revolutionaries living in exile in the U.S., and begins her efforts to convert compatriots to the cause of independence from Spain. She begins planting the seeds of insubordination in her social circle and enlists two of her brothers in the cause. Things become more dangerous when she targets soldiers in the garrison close to the family’s home, and it doesn’t take long for one of her brothers to be exposed. Soon Emilia’s father is forced to lead his entire family away from their home and into exile in the U.S.

Raised in an elite, slave-holding Cuban family, Emilia Casanova spent most of her adult life in New York City, where she worked passionately for Cuba’s freedom from Spain and the black man’s freedom from servitude. A wife and mother, she created the first women’s political organization dedicated to supporting the rebel cause during Cuba’s Ten Years’ War. Puerto Rican and Latino Studies professor Virginia Sanchez-Korrol introduces the fascinating but little-known story of a Latin American activist to an English-speaking audience.

The Lightning Dreamer

In free verse, evokes the voice of Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda, a book-loving writer, feminist, and abolitionist who courageously fought injustice in nineteenth-century Cuba. Includes historical notes, excerpts from her writings, biographical information, and source notes.

Join the discussion of The Lightning Dreamer as well as other books set in Cuba on our My Take/Your Take page.

Guantanamo Boy

Six months after the events of September 11, 2001, Khalid, a Muslim fifteen-year-old boy from England, is kidnapped during a family trip to Pakistan and imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he is held for two years suffering interrogations, water-boarding, isolation, and more for reasons unknown to him.

Featured in WOW Review Volume IX, Issue 2.

Good-Bye, Havana! Hola, New York!

When five year old Gabriella hears talk of Castro and something called revolution in her home in Cuba, she doesn’t understand. Then when her parents leave suddenly and she remains with her grandparents, life isn’t the same. Soon the day comes when she goes to live with her parents in a new place called the Bronx. It isn’t warm like Havana, and there is traffic not the ocean outside her window. Their life is different- it snows in the winter and the food at school is hot dogs and macaroni. What will it take for the Bronx to feel like home?

The Wild Book

Fefa struggles with words. She has word blindness, or dyslexia, and the doctor says she will never read or write. Every time she tries, the letters jumble and spill off the page, leaping and hopping away like bullfrogs. How will she ever understand them? But her mother has an idea. She gives Fefa a blank book filled with clean white pages. “Think of it as a garden,” she says. Soon Fefa starts to sprinkle words across the pages of her wild book. She lets her words sprout like seedlings, shaky at first, then growing stronger and surer with each new day. And when her family is threatened, it is what Fefa has learned from her wild book that saves them.

See the review at WOW Review, Volume 4, Issue 3

The Road To Santiago

In Cuba, in the early 1950s, a young boy and his family try their best not to let the rebel soldiers keep them from traveling to Santiago to celebrate Christmas with their relatives. Based on a true incident in the life of the author.

The Other Half of Life

A heartbreaking novel based on the true story of a World War II voyage.In May of 1939, the SS St. Francis sets sail from Germany, carrying German Jews and other refugees away from Hitler’s regime. The passengers believe they are bound for freedom in Cuba and eventually the United States, but not all of them are celebrating. Fifteen-year-old Thomas is anxious about his parents and didn’t want to leave Germany: his father, a Jew, has been imprisoned and his mother, a Christian, is left behind, alone. Fourteen-year old Priska has her family with her, and she’s determined to enjoy the voyage, looking forward to their new lives. Based on the true story of the MS St. Louis, this historical young adult novel imagines two travelers and the lives they may have lived until events, and immigration laws, conspired to change their fates.

Old Dog

Perro Viejo was taken away from his mother at birth and has known no other life than that of servitude on a sugar plantation. His name, which means “Old Dog,” was given to him by the plantation master because, like the bloodhounds that chased fugitive slaves, Perro Viejo is always searching for the scent of his long lost mother. The only thing that keeps him alive is the memory of Asunción, a beautiful girl he once met while washing his master’s horses at a river. Never to see her again, he closes his heart to all forms of love. Nearing the end of his life, Perro Viejo meets Beira, an old slave who is avoided by the other slaves because they think she is a witch. She warms Perro Viejo’s heart, and together they hatch a plan to escape from slavery. Young readers join Perro Viejo as he finally learns what it is to love — and to feel free.

La Noche Buena

Nina is visiting her grandmother in Miami for Christmas. Usually she spends it in snowy New England with her mother and her family, but this year is different. She isn’t certain what to make of a hot and humid holiday, until she learns the traditions of her father’s side of the family from her Cuban grandmother. She helps prepare for the evening and takes part in all their traditions—the intricate cooking for the feast, the dancing, the music, and the gathering of relatives and neighbors. It all comes together for a Noche Buena that Nina will never forget.   Antonio Sacre and Angela Dominguez have created a wonderful story that everyone who celebrates Christmas will enjoy. The book includes a glossary of Spanish words.

90 Miles To Havana

When Julian’s parents send him and his two brothers away from Cuba to Miami via the Pedro Pan Operation, the boys are thrust into a new world where bullies run rampant and it’s not always clear how best to protect themselves. By the author of Raining Sardines.