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Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings

(Enchanted Air #1)

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4.06  ·  Rating details ·  2,422 ratings  ·  481 reviews
In this poetic memoir, Margarita Engle, the first Latina woman to receive a Newbery Honor, tells of growing up as a child of two cultures during the Cold War.

Margarita is a girl from two worlds. Her heart lies in Cuba, her mother's tropical island country, a place so lush with vibrant life that it seems like a fairy tale kingdom. But most of the time she lives in Los
...more
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published August 4th 2015 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 4.06  · 
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 ·  2,422 ratings  ·  481 reviews


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Rachel Reads Ravenously


I had the privilege of hearing Engle speak this past fall and I immediately bought this book after hearing her story because I wanted to know more. I found Engle's story to be haunting, because while it happened from 1950's-1960's, this book is extremely relevant for many children now.

Beautifully written, I am eager to devour more by Engle. Hopefully sooner rather than later.


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Ricki
Nov 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a poignant memoir in verse about Margarita’s experience as a child of two cultures. Her words float across the page. Margarita beautifully balances the vibrance of Cuba and the noise of Los Angeles during Cold War and Missile Crisis. The title reflects the content because this book has wings. It lifts readers to another time and place in history and vividly captures her childhood.
Abby Johnson
This is a really beautiful book. This finely crafted memoir in verse depicts Margarita Engle's childhood, traveling to Cuba to visit her mother's family there and growing up in America while events like the Bay of Pigs Invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis were going on. Fans of BROWN GIRL DREAMING, don't miss this one!
Holly Mueller
I know you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but look at this one! So beautiful. Fortunately, the inside matches the outside - a beautiful memoir in verse by Cuban-American Margarita Engle. It's full of gorgeous language that describes the angst of growing up, feeling torn between two countries, longing for adventure and travel, not always fitting in, confusion over politics and culture clashes, the beauty of Cuba and America, the love of art, stories, and poetry, and so much more. ...more
David
Feb 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cultural-studies
4.0. This was a solid read, but it felt a little thin in areas and I think it would have been much better had the author added more content. It just had the feeling of being a little disjointed. At times it felt like memoir, at times a history lesson and at times a travel brochure. I just wish the author had spent more time on all three and added more detail. I really enjoyed the perspective of having two selves and her descriptions of Cuba made me want to visit. I am so glad she can finally be ...more
Linda Lipko
This lovely book, written in poetry explores the thoughts and feelings of the author as a young child embracing both the cultures of Cuba, her mother's country, and the United States, the country where she resides.

Visiting Cuba when a child and documenting the rich culture, the air, the markets, the colors and the freedom depicted in poetic form by the author lends to a stunningly beautiful rich feeling.

Returning to the United States and learning art, music and culture, the author compares and
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Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Every book I've read about Cuba makes me want to visit the island. This book is no exception. Engle here describes in poems her childhood until the age of 14. Her father was American, but her mother was from Cuba, and they lived in various places on the west coast. They would make the trip to Cuba to visit the relatives as often as they could. What I related to here was her experiences in school during and after the Cuban missile crisis. How well I remember, even though I was half her age at the ...more
Hallie Jackson Brackett
Jan 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
5 stars.

The good: There's a reason why this is an award winner. Several reasons, really. I've just finished the book and I'm still a bit swept up in the emotions that are inherent in finishing something so beautiful, but I will try to collect my thoughts here. First, the language is beautiful and lyrical while remaining accessible to middle grade readers. The themes and metaphors are complex enough to engage YA and adult readers. The plot flows nicely and doesn't have any of the narrative
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Saajid Hosein
Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a stunning look at the complexities of growing up as a Cuban-American during post Revolution/Cold War hostilities. It focuses on the desires to explore and travel, as a means of empathy, as a means of connecting with parts of yourself that exist beyond your own shores.

Wow that sounded like a tacky pseudo-deep tumblr post.

But seriously, read this book.
Kim Clifton
May 28, 2017 rated it liked it
The author writes in her end note that she was reluctant to write a childhood memoir, and unfortunately that reluctance shows in the book. The poems are beautiful, but there's something missing-- they feel connected in sections, and then there are complete gaps in time. I especially liked the section on Margarita's childhood trip to Cuba and feeling more of herself there riding horses than growing up in a US city, but I feel like that coming of age story never fully developed. Instead of ...more
Mary Sanchez
As a child, Margaret Engle loved visiting the Cuba of her mother's people-- the trees, the birds,the sea, which made it an enchanted place. But then the revolution in Cuba and later, the 1960s Cuban Missile Crisis change the relationship between the United States and Cuba. All this news confuses one sensitive girl who loves both countries and doesn't understand the politics that keep her wings clipped so that she can't fly to Cuba and visit the land she loves and her family.

I appreciated that
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Beth
I don't think my mind can fully process yet how much I loved Margarita Engle's beautiful memoir in verse. I need to come back and write a longer review when I'm not feeling ALL THE THINGS all at once.

Lovers of Jacqueline Woodson's Brown Girl Dreaming will love Enchanted Air. Put this book on your TBR list and look for it to hit bookstores in August.
Mrs.Heather Lassley
Oct 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I have found that I love everything that Margarita Engle writes. Not only does she beautiful describe things through verse, but I feel like I know her even though I have never met her.
Mrs. Krajewski
Nov 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Margarita Engle's poetry was beautiful, but I found this story lacking at times. I wanted to know more about my conflicted narrator than I ended up learning.
Monica Edinger
Jan 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
My review here.
Laura Resau
Nov 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful, moving, captivating... and I learned so much! Highly recommended!
Shannon
May 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
What a lovely memoir about life as the child of a Cuban mother and American father in the late 50s and early 60s. There’s just something special about books written in verse and the verse combined with occasional Spanish phrases felt magical. I especially loved her musings on loving more than one country and her thoughts on how we see history.

“All we learn about is Ancient Rome
and George Washington,
as if only the distant past
can ever be
understood.”

I wonder whether we can ever really understand
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Richie Partington
Apr 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Richie’s Picks: ENCHANTED AIR: TWO CULTURES, TWO WINGS: A MEMOIR by Margarita Engle, Atheneum, August 2015, 208p., ISBN: 978-1-4814-3522-2

“I was walkin’ down the sidewalk not causin’ any harm.
The radio reported, it sounded with alarm.
The Russian ships were sailin’ all out across the sea.
We all feared by daybreak it would be World War Number Three.”
-- Bob Dylan “Cuban Missile Crisis”

“After those first soaring summers,
each time we fly back to our everyday
lives in California, one of my two selves
is
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Caroline C
Oct 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wow-books
Enchanted Air is a collection of poems that tells the story of the author, Margarita Engle’s childhood growing up in Los Angeles as a Cuban American. At the beginning of this book Margarita describes her travels to Cuba with her mother and older sister. During her time there she develops an even stronger love for the island and the people. However, soon after her visit, the Cuban Revolution breaks out and the Cold War begins to unfold. A ban on travel between the two countries keeps Margarita ...more
Tasha
Dec 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
In this verse memoir, Engle tells the story of her childhood during the Cold War. With half of her family coming from Cuba and a grandmother who still lived there, Engle had a strong connection to Cuba. It was there that as a child she found herself, connected to the island culture and lifestyle, ran wild in nature, and discovered a quieter life. It contrasted with her life in Los Angeles, filled with bustle and crowded with people. Through both of these distinct worlds, she has a constant, her ...more
Linda
A verse memoir of Margarita Engle’s first fourteen years, especially poignant because toward the end was the time that Cuba and the United States became enemies, thus Margarita and her family no longer had a way to be with their family in Cuba. Reading a story in poetry is such fun; the poems create a tone together that doesn’t happen in prose, or at least not in the same way. In this story, the reader knows the bittersweet almost immediately when there are words about Margarita’s mother, ...more
High Plains Library District
Feb 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult, teen, cindy
As lyrical as it is timely, Enchanted Air Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir by Margarita Engle, uses free verse to imbue the reader with the thoughts, emotions, and even turmoil Engle enjoyed and endured during her childhood travels to visit maternal relations in Cuba. Raised mostly in Los Angeles, Engle developed a deep love for her mother’s homeland—its tongue, culture, food, flora and fauna—at a young age. The Cold War, however, and the United States’ difficult relations with Cuba after the ...more
Amy Rae
I'm at the point where I love Margarita Engle's books of verse, because I always know I'll get a quick, memorable read with plenty of great Cuban history behind it. Her memoir is a special treat, however; it tells the story of her childhood travels against the backdrop of the Cold War and especially the Cuban Missile Crisis.

This book was just about perfect, and it was more than good enough that I'd gladly recommend it to anyone. My one quibble is the desire for Engle to have dug in just a little
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Jenny
Oct 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a beautifully written memoir of the author's childhood. Her mother grew up in Cuba, and moved to the US when she married Margarita's American father. The memoir describes her life, straddled between two countries and people she loves, as these countries face an almost-war and her trips to visit her beloved family in Cuba end. My words cannot do justice to the beautiful poetic descriptions of her childhood and her travels.

Things I appreciate: the lovely language, her love of
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George Merryman
Nov 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poems
Margarita Engle's memoir in verse reveals a life divided in more ways then one. The first part of her story is pre-Cuban Missile Crisis and is happy. Then she is indefinitely separated from her family by the failed diplomatic relationship between Cuba and the United States. Eventually her life regains its former zeal and she comes to terms with her love of both countries. This convoluted blend of internal and external conflict demonstrates the complicated nature of conflict. I will build a unit ...more
Ananya Ghosh
Dec 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a beautiful, beautiful book, a memoir that discusses the Cuban-American author's life divided between two cultures, and how she felt fraught between those two identities. She discusses her early childhood experiences of travel, her relatives and paints the Cuban landscape in such vivid imagery, it all feels so beautiful.

She also discusses the Cuban-American war years when one part of her identity was snuffed out and she felt rootless and distraught. She talks about fitting into both
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Marissa Elera
Mar 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: verse, multicultural
Margarita is different. A goody-two-shoes, she is already friendless and unpoised in her every day life living on the West coast. Her ethnic background is different, too. She is half Cuban and half European-American. When she visits Cuba for the first time as a child, she is entranced and feels she has finally discovered who she is meant to be among the tropical tapestry of family, animals, and Cuban culture.

When relations between the U.S. and Cuba grow ugly, Margarita is caught between two
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Connie D
Mar 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite
This is a poignant memoir in poetic form of the first 14 years of a girl's life. Margarita is a girl caught between two cultures and families, her mother's in Cuba and their family home in the U.S.

I think she states her complicated feelings best herself:

It really is possible to feel
like two people
at the same time,
when your parents
grandparents
memories
words
come from two
different
worlds.

When the Cuban Revolution occurs, life, communication and travel to Cuba gets much more difficult, though not
...more
Keith
Oct 20, 2017 rated it liked it
A well written and unique book, however, I found it dragged on in sections of the book with no clear purpose. I like the aspect of Cuba and the author describing what its like, as well as the history side of the book because you don't hear that side of the story very often. Most of the time you hear about the negatives of Cuba and how the United States was doing the right thing, but from Margarita's view you really get to know what people who were on the other side or in the middle of the ...more
Mary
A powerful verse memoir that chronicles Engle's memories of growing up as a Cuban American during the 1950s and 1960s. Her early memories of Cuba are filled with descriptions of lush greenery on a beautiful tropical island surrounded by loving relatives on her mother's side. In contrast, her life in the United States is described as lonely and restricted. Although Engle has a child's perspective of the Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis, and Cold War, it provides an insightful overview that can ...more
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Margarita Engle is a Cuban-American poet, novelist, and journalist whose work has been published in many countries. She lives with her husband in northern California.

Other books in the series

Enchanted Air (2 books)
  • Soaring Earth: A Companion Memoir to Enchanted Air
“Books become my refuge. Reading keeps me hopeful. I fall in love with small poems, the shorter the better- haiku from Japan, and tiny rhymes by Emily Dickinson.” 3 likes
“Books are enchanted. Books help me travel. Books help me breathe.” 2 likes
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