The Red Umbrella
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The Red Umbrella

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  1,313 ratings  ·  363 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 firs...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published December 13th 2011 by Yearling (first published April 25th 2010)
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Ok, so I have to admit that when I started reading this book I wasn't clicking with it the way I wanted to. Looking back the problem was that I had an expectation of how the tone of the book should be like, but that's unfair to the book. I let my expectations fall to the wayside and I'm so glad I did.

Our protagonist, Lucia Alvarez, is living in Cuba at turbulent times when Fidel Castro is rising to power and families, friendships, and a sense of country are rapidly falling apart. Lucia though is...more
Kay Cassidy
I've been wanting to read The Red Umbrella ever since I saw the deal announced and was lucky enough to get to read an ARC. There was something about the premise that struck a chord with me from that first announcement, and I knew it would be special. I just didn't realize why until I started reading.

I'm a second generation American. My grandparents immigrated just in time for the Great Depression (not great timing, to be sure). The Red Umbrella made me appreciate my own heritage in ways I haven'...more
Tara Chevrestt
This was great!!! It was a wonderful look at the early days of Castro's revolution and Cuban and American relations in 1961. The story is told from a 14 year old girl's point of view, Lucia.

Lucia has normal 14 year old growing pains. She likes boys, wants to wear make up, is irritated by her younger brother, Frankie, but instead of having a normal teenager's life, Cuba, her country and home, goes into turmoil. When Castro and his revolutionary followers take over the government, not only is ther...more
Aug 01, 2010 Valerie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Valerie by: Cara
Good old historical fiction never fails. Lucia is our girl of interest. Time period is the 1960s however this isn't about the civil rights movement it's about Operation Pedro Pan because of the Communist Movement going on in Cuba.

Lucia seems to be average but spoiled in the beginning of the book. This annoyed me. I guess it's realistic since she is fourteen and basically has had (up until now) a fairly carefree life but it was still off putting. Once problems start arising and Lucia starts to r...more
Steph Su
I have never read a novel like Christina Gonzalez’s debut, THE RED UMBRELLA. This is a necessary story about an aspect of Cuban American history that has not received enough attention in YA literature—and best of all, it’s extremely well written and engaging!

Gonzalez writes convincingly of all her characters. Lucia is partly your average teenager, desiring friendship, love, acceptance, and pretty things. Her parents are a believable blend of loving, strict, and worried, and Frankie is a cute and...more
Brittany Cuenin
The Cuban history of the past 40 years tends to be glossed over and not taught about in schools. Gonzalaz does a really great job of creating a young adult novel which answers those historical questions while creating an interesting plot. The characters are very relatable and the reader gets caught up in the tragedy of the two children, Lucia and her brother, being transported to America - not sure if they will ever see their home or parents again. Gonzalez does a nice job of giving the readers...more
Cindy Hudson
During the midst of the Cuban Revolution in the early 1960s, thousands of children were sent alone to live with relatives or be taken in by aid agencies in the U. S. The Red Umbrella by Christina Diaz Gonzalez, tells the fictional story of two of these children.

When the revolution first began, life didn’t change much in the Alvarez household. Lucia still read fashion magazines with her best friend Ivette, and Lucia’s little brother Frankie liked riding his bike and spying on soldiers. But eventu...more
Why hasn’t this topic been covered more for the older kid/teen crowd? I absolutely adored this debut and immediately went searching for books involving Castro’s Cuba and Operation Pedro Pan, but I have found…sigh…two others. Yep. (Leaving Glorytown and Jumping off to Freedom, the former looking far more compelling; also, Countdown deals with the American side of the Cuban Missile Crisis.) This era is so highly charged politically and emotionally, it truly baffles me that it has been largely left...more
The Red Umbrella is an excellent story about the Cuban-American experience of a young teen and her family in the period just after the Cuban communist revolution. It's value is historical, it's appeal is universal, and the story a remarkable one.

Gonzalez uses the striking image of her mother's red umbrella to express a range of emotions that add to the descriptive elements of people and places. Her careful use of the this image will be accessible to and appreciated by readers young and old.

This historical fiction about Castro's take over of Cuba and the subsequent exodus of Cuban children to the U.S. is not well represented in kid lit. Lucia is very well drawn and goes through several universal experiences (first dance, bratty brother, confusion of growing up). The other characters can be a bit one dimensional, but they are all likeable. There were lots of touching moments like the incident with the red umbrella. While the writing is interesting, it is clearly a first novel with a...more
Juju (Tales of
I knew the stories and I knew the hardships. I grew up with my mother telling me about the foods rations and conditions. But it took Christina's book to help me really see Cuba through the eyes of a child. What I found there was a beautiful story of loss and the ties that bind. I gasped, cried, smiled, and cheered while reading this book. The Red Umbrella is beautiful, tender, heartfelt, and I recommend it to everyone.

Review Copyright © of Tales of

To read my review in full please visi...more
Kate ★
This is a story about a young girl whose family was caught up in the turmoil brought about by the Cuban Revolution. Because of the increasing threats and continuous stripping of freedom, Lucia Alvarez's parents decided that the children (Lucia and Frankie) leave Cuba and head to America. They believed that this would provide a safe haven for the children.

The book is easy to follow because this book is intended for elementary students or teens. The writer gave a simple explanation of the Cuban Re...more
I bought this book for my 10 yr old granddaughter. I always read any book I buy for the Grands before I give it to them. I bought this one because I though it would make her understand what it was like to leave Cuba at 13 without my was wonderfully written & very factual. Many tears later, I decided to save it until she is 13.
I'm still digesting this book as I knew next to nothing about this period in history (Castro's revolutionary Cuba) and the author gives you a lot to think about.... Lucia is a 14 year old girl living in Cuba in 1961, who loves fashion magazines, day dreaming about boys, and dances, as Castro's revolution comes to her small village. Friendships, families, and ways of life are wretchedly changed. When it is no longer safe for Lucia and her brother, her parents send them to the US as part of Operat...more
Gonzalez, Christina Diaz. 2010. The Red Umbrella. Alfred A. Knopf. New York: New York.
ISBN: 970375861901
Historical, realistic fiction
Grades 6 - 12

Lucia and her little brother are sent out of Cuba to escape the Cuba regime and being sent to camps for reeducation. Once in Miami, they are briefly separated but come back together when sent to live with an elderly couple in Nebraska. During this time they learn English, the ways of a farm, and what the United States is really like. Lucia finds that t...more
The Red Umbrella is a fantastically written debut that had me on the verge of tears on several occasions.

I have to admit I was a little apprehensive to read this novel at first... I do enjoy reading historical fiction, but I knew this story would waken emotions that I'd have to deal with long after the book was over. To know that people struggled in the manner that Lucia and her family did, and I'm sure there were families who struggled much more, is utterly heartbreaking.

The first part of the n...more
Barb Middleton
Lucia’s world is crumbling. Her school has been shut down. Her neighbors are being thrown into prison or killed for disagreeing with the Cuban revolutionists. Her best friend has joined the brigades and is leaving for military training.

Lucia’s family faces danger when her father becomes labeled a dissident. Lucia and her brother flee to the U.S. with other children to live in a foster home while her parents wait to get exit VISAs.

The pacing is fast and the characters well-developed in this book....more
Liza Gilbert
This book was marketed very poorly. From the cover to the story itself, the whole book would have done better as adult memoir/fiction for the women's book club crowd.

The story of two Cuban children sent to America to escape Castro's reign of terror in the early 60s was oddly sweet and idealistic. Gonzalez hints at the really bad stuff, but mostly stays away from it.

The red umbrella itself as a device was used perfectly - simply and sparsely. Each time the umbrella was used, I felt glad that I w...more
Christy Rosso
Christy Rosso
Genre: Multicultural
Awards: 2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults ALA/YALSA; Top Ten Book, Summer Indie Next List; New Voices Pick, Association of Booksellers for Children; 2010 Best Children’s Books, Miami Herald; 2010 Best Books for Kids, Christian Science Monitor; 2010 Top Five Books, Latina Magazine; 2010 Florida Book Award Winner, 2011 CCBC Choices Book
Format: Print
Selection process: NoveList

Lucía Álvarez dreams of her upcoming quinceañera, the special 15th...more
Gail Roshong
Name: Gail Roshong

APA citation: Gonzalez, C. D. (2010). The red umbrella. New York: Random House.

Genre: Historical fiction

Awards: 2010 Best Books for Kids, Christian Science Monitor; 2010 Florida Book Award; 2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults

Format: print

Selection process: The Red Umbrella was well reviewed in both Library Media Connection (August/September 2010) by Peggy Fleming and School Library Journal (May 2010) by Rhonda Campbell. Both reviewers feel this novel is thoughtfully written and...more
I spirited this first novel out of a pile of Ernie's ARCs. This fine, character-driven historical has a timeless quality that I think will speak to many present-day readers. As freedoms are crushed and families torn apart in 1961 revolutionary Cuba 14-15YO Lucia and her younger brother Frankie are sent to live with a farm family in Nebraska, while their loving parents must remain in Cuba. Lucia comes of age and struggles to understand the personal costs of harsh political realities during one t...more
This book is magnificent! As an immigrant myself I can relate in so many levels to this book…sadly the political situation since my home country Venezuela is under the regimen of someone who admires and friendship with Castro. We have “missions” working for “the people” we have the faces of Che and Castro painted throughout low income neighborhoods…sadly we have a lot of similar things.

Now on a brighter subject Lucia and Frankie’s struggle with English reminds me so much of my own everyday stru...more
Kerry Cerra
The Red Umbrella is a powerful novel about a family that must make the heartbreaking choice to send their kids to the United States after Fidel Castro slowly, yet harshly, takes over Cuba. Operation Pedro Pan allowed over 14,000 Cuban children to come to the United States. The Red Umbrella tells the story of Lucia, a fourteen year old girl, who experiences changes in her town in 1960. Our hearts break along with her’s as every part of her life shifts until finally her family is ripped apart when...more
Averie L
The Red Umbrella by Christina Diaz Gonzalez is a story about a 14-year-old girl’s journey from Cuba to America. Lucia Alvarez is a typical teenager. She dreams of parties and boys. This all changes when soldiers come into her peaceful cuban town. Her neighbors start to disappear. Rights and freedoms are stripped away. Everyone is being watched. There are soldiers on every corner. Fidel Castro’s revolution is taking over. Lucia’s parents make a heart-wrenching decision to send Lucia and her litt...more
This book immediately caught my attention since I didn't know much about the mass exodus from Cuba during the regime of Castro. The plot was quite simple and easy to follow but at times I thought the writing was a bit childish, and taxing because of its simplicity. I had to remind myself that it was written from the perspective of a 15 yesr old. Overall I thought that it was an interesting read, and has prompted me to find out more about this time period in history and the relationship between U...more
I really enjoyed this book. I haven't read anything that explains the plight of Cubans in 1961 as Castro takes over and makes Cuba communist. I was impressed with the efforts made by the American Catholic church during this time to help those Cuban parents who wanted a better life for their children. I cannot imagine having to send my kids away like that. It was a short and easy read with a good ending.
I really enjoyed this story about a young girl coming of age during the revolution in Cuba. I have read other books, both fiction and nonfiction about this topic, but this was the first from a young girl's perspective. This is a book that I think adults can enjoy, and one I would certainly recommend to my high school Spanish classes for a reading project.
Do you think Mamá will be upset that I love Mrs. Baxter?

A fictional story based on true events from 1960-1962 when thousands of unaccompanied children were sent from revolutionary Cuba to the US: Operation Pedro Pan.

Cute and corny. But a one-sided period piece full of anti-Communist propaganda.
Bailey Br
It’s 1961, two years after the Communist revolution. Lucia Alvarez is your average 14-year-old. She dreams about parties and boys like every other girl. She lives in Cuba with her brother, Frankie, her mother, and her father. She is out fishing one day with her brother when, all of a sudden, they see a bunch of soldiers arrive. Lucia is curious about these soldiers from the moment she sees them. Lucia and Frankie don't know it, but they are about to start on the craziest adventure of their life....more
Keeping my opinion quick and easy on this one. I liked it but didn't love it.
I think the main character, Lucia, is likable but she doesn't have too much depth of character. She is the darling child, scared to be the strong lead in her family. But everything seems to touch the surface of the character she could be.
I was honestly more in love with Frankie, Lucia'a little brother. He seemed more dynamic. Scenes that left me feeling emotional (yes, I even got a little teary) were because of him.
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Christina grew up in a small Southern town in the Florida panhandle, but she's always been in touch with her Cuban heritage. She loves having breakfast with pan cubano and Southern style grits-- the best of both worlds!

Her debut novel, The Red Umbrella (Random House/Knopf), is now available in paperback in bookstores everywhere. Her second novel, A Thunderous Whisper, is to be released October 20...more
More about Christina Diaz Gonzalez...
A Thunderous Whisper Red Umbrella

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