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90 Miles to Havana
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90 Miles to Havana

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  1,287 Ratings  ·  232 Reviews
When Julian's parents make the heartbreaking decision to 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.

90 Miles to Havana is a 2011 Pura Belpre Honor Book for Narrative and a 2011 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published August 3rd 2010 by Roaring Brook Press
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2011 ALA Pura Belpré Award Honor Book

What I loved about his story was the parallel between bullying at the Pedro Pan camp with Castro's bullying of the Cuban country. But what I loved more than that, was the character, a surrogate father to the boy Julian, for whom the revolution is a boon, and who none the less helps Julian and his family.

A great read that I hope will garner a wider readership thanks to the Belpré.
Fifth grade and up.
Jazlyn Caraballo
Apr 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
The book I have chosen for my multicultural literature assignment is “90 Miles to Havana.” This book was based off the author’s experience. It is about a little boy and his family who live in Cuba. In the beginning of the book it starts off with historical facts about the revolution that was taken place in Cuba. Throughout the story Julian and his family go through very hard times. Julian and his brothers eventually end up in a camp in the southern parts of Miami. His two older brothers were se ...more
Joy Kirr
I know nothing about Cuba and what happened in the 60s there. Now I know just a TEENY bit. This story is more about the author’s experiences as a child refugee who was sent away from his parents to Miami. It sucks you in right away, and then you’re bombarded with an easy-to-hate bully character for the middle part of the book. Finally there’s hope, but is there, really? My eyes were opened to another piece of history, and how it affected some children. It made me wonder about all of the other ch ...more
Oct 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Good balance of external action and internal growth. The ending feels rushed, but it is a relief too.
Karen Henspeter
Apr 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
o APA citation: Flores-Galbis, E. (2012). 90 miles to Havana. New York, NY: Square Fish Publishers.

o Genre: Multi-cultural

o Format: Print

o Selection process: ALSC & YALSA 2011 book picks. (2011). School Library Journal, 50-57, award recipient (2011 Pura Belpré Honor Book for Narrative, 2011 Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year)

o Review:
It is the year 1961, and Fidel Castro has recently overtaken the government in Cuba. Julian, the youngest of three boys and the son of respectable, h
Sep 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
This story is the fascinating tale of a refugee from Cuba. The book is based on the real-life experiences of the author, who underwent similar events in his own childhood. Julian, the main character, is sent with his brothers from Cuba to Miami right after the Revolution. They have to leave their parents behind and begin a new life alone. The boys are sent to a camp in Miami for Cuban children where they have to adjust to new bullies, a new language, and a new way of life. After being separated ...more
Arlene Szalay
Oct 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: slmta
This is a really good multicultural book. It is based on the author's experience as a child when he left Cuba in 1961 in operation Pedro Pan. It opens on New Years Day in Havana, Cuba as Castro's revolution is beginning. Julian lives in a well-to-do neighborhood and suddenly there is fighting in the streets. His neighbors the Garcias leave for the United States the next day and soon afterward, Julian's parents unable to leave themselves send him and his brothers to what is advertised as a "summe ...more
Mar 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: 12-14
Recommended to Beverly by: YALSA Best Books for YA 2011
I was surprised and pleased when a few of my reluctant readers chose 90 Miles to Havana, an historical novel, over the more predictable suggestions of the wonderful Multnomah County Library School Corps young adult librarian. I was even more please when they all praised the book, so I decided I'd better read it, too. I loved it. The author, Enrique Flores-Galbis, based the story of young refugee Julian, on his own experiences as a Cuban refugee. It is a very realistic and historically accurate p ...more
Apr 09, 2015 rated it liked it
A little covered topic, this was a great book to learn about Cuban refugees fleeing to America in 1961. Operation Pedro Pan aided children escapees, and the book describes one young boys adventures trying to acclimate to this "camp" in America. I enjoyed the different perspectives of the revolution occurring in Cuba. Based on the author's own experiences, the story is an honest account that will educate while entertain.
Dec 27, 2015 rated it liked it
A good book. I like historical fiction and it was interesting to read a book about Cuba from that perspective. I've always read books or articles by people from the revolutionary point of view. I would recommend this book to my students, indeed.
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Enrique Flores-Galbis, author of 90 Miles to Havana, was one of several thousands of children who fled Cuba due to the horrid environment of the Cuban Revolution. 90 Miles to Havana is based on Enrique’s childhood experience, I still can't fathom how a small child, who barely spoke English, had to survive on his own surrounded by giants. Julian, portrayal of Enrique, was kept at a refugee camp held for subjects of the Pedro-Pan operation. Though Julian had his two older brothers at the camp with ...more
Valerie McEnroe
This book is based on Operation Pedro Pan which occurred in Cuba during the Communist revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power. 14,000 Cuban children were sent to camps in Florida in the early 60s to escape the forced indoctrination of children. Upper middle class families were most affected as Communist philosophy promoted the idea of redistribution of wealth. All that these families had worked hard for over the years was taken from them by the government.

I would have given this book 4 sta
Avery Ellison
90 Miles to Havana is different from other Cuban Revolution books I have read. Instead of tackling concepts of who is in power and the poverty and need that runs rampant in dictatorships, this book focuses on a family that was well off when the previous dictatorship was in power. They are out on their boat on new years eve when the dictator is overthrown. They then have to scramble to get out of the country. The story follows the youngest of the family’s three sons, Julian, and his coming of age ...more
Jan 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Revolution is scarcely spoken of in schools. There are likely a multitude of reasons why that is so, but whatever the case, this book provides a unique perspective of a revolution that is rarely seen. When Julian, a young Cuban boy, and his brothers are forced to leave their home and parents behind, Julian begins a journey of discovering the diversity of the world and the strength inside himself.

This book delicately balances heartbreak and humor. On one hand, we see Julian as a scared child. He
David Goodwin
Nov 10, 2017 rated it liked it
In the early 1950’s, Cuba was a dictatorship under the rule of Fulgencio Batista. That is, until military leader Fidel Castro dethroned Batista in 1959, and transformed Cuba into a communist nation. During this time, many people left the country to get away from the fighting. However, some families couldn’t afford to all go at once. The parents’ solutions were oftentimes to send their children to the United States, and eventually hope they could find the money to meet up with them.
Enrique Flore
Jan 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enrique Flores presents a story that shows the struggles of having to leave your home and move to a new place, and how one can become independent. 90 Miles to Havana takes place during the Cuban Revolution when the Castro-led forces drive out Batista in 1959. Julian and his two older brothers, Alquilino and Gordo, are sent to Miami to escape from Cuba and the Revolution by his mother and father who are not able to get out at the time. When Julian gets separated from Alquilino and Gordo at the ca ...more
Erika Yoney
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chapter-books
I was unsure if I would like historical-fiction books, but as I read the incredible story about Julian and his brothers’ escape from the Cuban revolution, I became invested in the book and its characters. Enrique Flores-Galbis’ use of vivid imagery brought this book and its characters to life. I found myself unable to book the book down because of this.

As the boys arrive at Camp Kendal in Florida, they are welcomed by the oldest brother’s ‘friend’, Caballo. Caballo calls the shots at the camp a
Octavio Tavo
Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
The has to due with a little kid name Julian and his 2 brother getting in trouble, so their parents have to send to Miami where no one will find them. But its still not save there because Julian has to face bullies that he comes across. I felt this book's ending could have huger impact if he was reunited with his father and I also wanted to know what happened to some of the people in the book. Like how are they doing but there was also some characters that weren't shown a lot but were huge part ...more
MC Bailey
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
I purchased 90 Miles to Havana from @Scholastic for my classroom but decided to check it out for myself as well. All opinions are my own. This story begins in, I assume 1960, Havana, Cuba just as the Cuban Revolution that later instituted Fidel Castro starts. Jullian, his two older brothers, parents, and family friends are returning after a day of fishing for a New Year’s Eve Celebration. Shooting and hollering happen just as their boat pulls to the dock in Havana. Julian’s parents decide it is ...more
Leslie Fitzpatrick
Sep 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Haley Sund
Jan 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
90 Miles to Havana captures the challenges that many Cubans fleeing to the U.S. after the overthrow of Batista in the 50s. The story uses the life of Julian, the youngest of 3 boys, whose parents send him and his brothers to Miami, Florida. Soon after coming to the U.S. Julian is separated from his brothers, and the baby of the family is finally given the opportunity to grow and mature into a young man with the help of his friends. Along his journey, Julian encounters people who help him on his ...more
Richie Partington
Jul 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
28 December 2009 90 MILES TO HAVANA by Enrique Flores-Galbis, Roaring Brook, August 2010, 296p., ISBN: 978-1-59643-168-3

"We were hardly aware of the hardships they beared,
for our time was taken with treasure.
Oh, life was a game, and work was a shame,
And pain was prevented by pleasure.
The world, cold and gray, was so far away
In a distance only money could measure.
But their thoughts were broken by the ringing of revolution."
-- Phil Ochs

"'To really show what a revolution is, you'd have to draw at
Nolan Frame
Mar 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was very good. I liked how it opened it up on the boat when Julian is fishing with his parents.
Although what I didn't like was how a lot of characters are introduced at one time so later in the book when Julian was talking to them I was confused on who it was. Also there were also a lot of short chapters, like three pages long, which annoyed me because I felt like there was more detail that could have been added, they could had been added into a different chapter or just not in at all
Zoe Heinnrich-McMullen
Nov 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Galbis tells a unique true story told in first person by a kid that immigrates to the U.S. from Cuba in 1961 during the revolution. Have you ever felt like you’ve lost control of your life? Like you have no say in when or where you’ll end up? Well, the way you may feel probably isn’t even close to what the main character in this story faces, 90 Miles to Havana. The theme is: having the freedom of choice is not something to take for granted. In this the author shows the theme through craft. Alth ...more
Jul 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Full disclosure: I read this book while in Cuba, so I might have enjoyed it more than I ordinarily would have. Enrique Flores-Galbis is a Cuban-American, so the representation in this novel is accurate and has authority. Huge plus right there.

90 Miles to Havana is the story of twelve-year-old Julian who is living a normal happy life when the Cuban Revolution comes and changes everything, and he and his two brothers are sent to Miami and have to figure out their new lives.

Julian is a sweet kid.
Jo Fetsco
Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
It is 1961 in Cuba and Julian is one of the 14,000 children who were sent to Florida by their parents to escape the revolution via the Pedro Pan operation.  Julian comes with his two older brothers who ending up getting sent to another refugee area in Colorado and Julian is left behind to deal with the camp, his feelings of isolation and confusion, and the bullies there. This novel is inspired by the author’s own  similar experiences and is definitely a coming-of-age story.  
Kelly Born
Jun 09, 2018 rated it liked it
It was not why I expected. A good read to learn and understand what the children of Cuba experienced when they were sent away to America without their parents. It’s written from one boy’s perspective and how he over comes being the baby of the family. You can see how hard it was for him to leave his parents through his story but really it’s a story about him and overcoming his fear, sadness and uncertainty in himself.

Miss Amanda
gr 4-7 290pgs

1961, Havana / Miami. Julian and his older brothers are sent alone as part of the Pedro Pan operation to safety in Miami. Unsure when their parents will join them, Julian and his brothers must figure out a way to stay together at the relocation camp and deal with Caballo, a bully who they knew in Havan, who is also at the camp.

Based on the author's own experiences.

Great story!
Jun 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
I knew nothing about the Cuban revolution so I enjoyed reading this historical novel about a Cuban family trying to escape the country as it's crumbling around them. The story is told in the eyes of a young boy who's forced to grow up quickly. I think it's a great read for both kids and adults alike.
Nov 18, 2017 rated it liked it
I picked up this book when planning a trip to Cuba. While it is informative, it's more of a story of a child's experience once in Florida. It seemed a bit unrealistic for me but I tried to keep in mind that it's a youth novel. It was an interesting perspective of the revolution. Recommend for a younger audience.
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Enrique is painter who started writing when he returned to Cuba after being away for thirty years. As he painted in the streets of Havana during the day dusty memories started flood back,then at night he would record his vivid memories. His two books grew out of the three notebooks he filled during those late night sessions.
Enrique lives in New York with his wife, who is also and artist, and his