Oh The Red Umbrella!! How I LOVED this book. The Red Umbrella by Christina Gonzalez is one of those books that will stay with me for a very long time. The waiting for this book was completely worth it. Chirstina Gonzalez brought us a story that although it is a work of fiction, the story is based on real events. Let me take you to Cuba back in 1960 when Castro to over the country. At first a lot of people believed in Castro and his idea, but later you realized but his true intentions really are. He wanted to retain complete control of the country by taking away the right to private property, stopping freedom of speech, censoring the press and limiting people's choice in religion. But worst of all, he wanted to also control Cuban children's lives. Children were being separated from their parents, sent to Russia to attend boarding schools. The fate of many children and their families did not look promising.
In The Red Umbrella, you meet Lucia and her seven-year old brother who are sent to the United States when her parents fear the worst: that their children would be taken away from them. Lucia's family is against the regimen, they do not believe in Castro's ideas, therefore, their lives are at risk.
The Red Umbrella brought me tears, laughs and at the end a sense of hopeful and optimism. The author has done such a successful job describing this story the way it is, painful at times, confusing but optimistic. Her work in this book is absolutely brilliant. And in this hard times in the United States when there is so much talk about immigration, The Dream Act and the Immigration Reform is imperative for educators across this country to read books like this one because it forces you to look and consider other perspectives as well.
I invite you read the following excerpts from the book which I believe are so powerful:
"I stared at the crumpled pages that filled my bedroom wastebasket. Who knew that a simple five-hundred word report on a book of my choice was going to be so difficult? I'd thought by picking something that I'd studied in Cuba, the whole thing would be easy to do, but it was hard to express myself in English when all my thoughts were in Spanish."
"I just want to get good grades because Papa always said that's what's in here-I tapped my head-"no one can take from you"
"That in the U.S, I'd found friends, happiness, and something she could never have with the revolution...freedom. It was here that people were free to choose their own path in life, free to speak their mind, free to have a different opinion, free to be themselves...all without fear."
"I'd carry Cuba with me wherever I went. That no matter what, I'd never stop loving my childhood home."
Like I said, this story will stay with me for a very long time as a reminder of the reasons why so many of my English language learners are here. Thank you Christina Diaz Gonzalez for writing this book which would hopefully bring clarity, compassion and understanding to many people and educators in the United States.
Hope you get to read this book as well. That's my invitation to you! Enjoy the journey, it is where we learn the most.