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The Red Umbrella

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  3,541 ratings  ·  702 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
Hardcover, 284 pages
Published May 11th 2010 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2010)
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Elyse Yes for both! It's very educational and easy to understand and follow.
Linda In the author notes at the end of the book, she said it was based on the experience of her parents.

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Average rating 4.04  · 
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 ·  3,541 ratings  ·  702 reviews

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Such a great coming-of-age/immigration story. Tightly and suitable written in clear, clean language, it was an absolute joy to read. The targeted audience may be for young adult readers, but anyone with an appreciation for a well crafted, simply told story that is historically relevant, captivating and entertaining will surely enjoy this wonderful book.

The story opens in Cuba. And follows the ups and downs of fourteen-year-old Lucia during a critically pivotal time in Cuban history as Castro beg
Olivia (Stories For Coffee)
I read this book in one sitting, which is rare for me considering I’m such a distracted reader. This is such a heart-wrenching novel chronicling the rise of Castro’s power to Lucía’s journey to America through Operación Pedro Pan.

My neighbor is one of the children who went through the same thing Lucía and her brother did, and I’m so lucky to have been able to speak to him about this time in history that is hardly ever spoken about. This novel opened my eyes to a piece of Cuban history that I on
Jan 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Kay Cassidy
Nov 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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'
Bookteafull (Danny)
Dec 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-people, favorites
Actual Rating: 4.5 Stars

As a Cuban whose family had to escape Castro's Cuba, I fully expected to be emotionally impacted by this book. I'm not gunna front, I got teary-eyed toward the 75% mark and wasn't expecting this tale to end somewhat wholeheartedly? Which is why I deducted half a point - I know it sounds bitter, but knowing what I know about Cuba as a Cuban, the book ended somewhat unrealistically for me. (view spoiler)
❤Marie Gentilcore
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sync, audiobook
I enjoyed the Red Umbrella very much. It was really good historical fiction and I learned a lot about this period of history. It is the story of the Alvarez family and is told by 14-year old Lucia as she and her family live through Cuba changing from a democracy to an authoritarian state in 1961. It also tells about a program called Pedro Pan where child refugees of Cuba were placed with American families until they could be reunited with their own families. It is sad what happened in Cuba over ...more
Tara Chevrestt
Dec 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 12, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Brittany Cuenin
Jan 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Steph Su
Nov 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: debs10, poc
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
Nov 10, 2009 rated it liked it
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
May 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of the most amazing and beautiful stories I've ever read! This is an instance where I wish a book was longer so that can experience it more. Heartbreaking and beautifully told, combines family, loss and hope into an amazing story that is sure to make anyone shed a tear. I know I shed many throughout my read. Ultimately giving us a story of what parents would do in a desperate act of love for their children. Simply amazing!!!
Jul 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cuba
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. ...more
Becca Hoetger
What a cute story! It reminded me of The War That Saved My Life. It was interesting to read about Cuba and Fidel Castro’s “Revolution.” I would definitely recommend this book, and especially the audiobook.
Mar 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Although written for YA, this book will easily appeal to anyone. It is about the Pedro Pan (Peter Pan) effort to get children (and later their parents) out of Castro's Cuba. It focuses on a the author's grandparents, who sent their two children to America - alone. The children, like so other children were given foster homes until they could be reunited. Other children would join relatives but many were like these children.
The story is about learning a new language and culture and trying to fit i
Feb 18, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another audiobook from Audiobook Sync. Takes place in the early 60's when Castro was taking over Cuba. About a family and how they get away from Cuba to live in the US.
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
Cindy Hudson
Oct 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Barb Middleton
Feb 13, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: historical
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 boo
Liza Gilbert
Sep 30, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: bfya2011, young-adult
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
Nov 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010
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
Mar 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade
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.

Jun 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-reads
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sejal Naik
Aug 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book is absolutely wonderful. Like many, I didn't know much about the impact of Castro's rise to power in Cuba in the early 1960s, or that so many Cuban children were sent from Cuba to the US, unaccompanied by adults, and without knowing whether or not they would be reunited with their families.

Christina Diaz Gonzalez did an exceptional job of educating readers while keeping them hooked on an easy to follow story line. Lucia's courage and resilience was so inspiring, and I appreciated Gonza
Apr 12, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: cuba, children-youth
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.
Jul 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I really loved "The red umbrella" by Christina Diaz Gonzales. It is the story of Lucia who lived in Cuba, bust she had to come to the United States until things in Cuba got better. She went through a hard journey to get her family back together. I loved how the red umbrella represents what her family is and what family means. This is definitely one of my favorite books that I've read.
Aug 05, 2010 rated it did not like it
Interesting time period, a bit pro-capitalist in a few early chapters. Would let kids read with some added historical context.
There are very few books that can pull off the delicate balance between delivering the bitter truth of some very complicated and difficult times while still preserving the innocence of a gullible reader, and this young adult historical fiction The Red Umbrella perfectly manages to do just that! I don't usually read YA, it's just not a genre that I relate to or particularly enjoy with the exception of a few books. When I started with this book, it was purely up read delve into multiple viewpoint ...more
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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!

She is the author of the award-winning novels, The Red Umbrella, A Thunderous Whisper, and the action-adventure duology, MOVING TARGET and RETURN FIRE (Scholastic).

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“Ivette dug into my wooden jewelry box and pulled out a gold chain with a white daisy on it. "Well this just screams out 'I'm a little girl,' so forget this one." Next, she picked out a silver necklace with a small cross. "Oh, no, we can't make you holy and untouchable. You'll never get your first kiss that way."
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