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90 Miles to Havana

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  1,738 ratings  ·  277 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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Average rating 3.87  · 
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 ·  1,738 ratings  ·  277 reviews

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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
Margo Tanenbaum
Aug 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Author and artist Enrique Flores-Galbis has written an exciting coming of age story based on his own experiences as one of the 14,000 Cuban children sent from Cuba to the U.S. without their parents in 1961 in Operation Pedro Pan, the largest exodus ever in the Western hemisphere of unaccompanied children.

The book opens with Julian, his two older brothers, their father and their family cook, Bebo, on their annual New Year's Eve fishing trip. Julian's main concern is his embarrassment over losing
Fred Gorrell
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction-youth
This is an exciting tale of three brothers coming to Florida via Operation Pedro Pan. It was published in 2010, as was The Red Umbrella, another novel appropriate for middle school readers on this same topic. Of the two books, this one may be better for older readers and those who have more comfort with story complexity.

Some elements of this book make it a great candidate for study in a unit about literary devices. This story opens on a fishing boat just before New Year's Day as a youngest son
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, hard-
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
Feb 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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. ...more
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. ...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.
Sarah Hunnicutt
Jul 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book! Julian is a kid when a huge revolution hits his home of Cuba. His family are on the wrong side of the resolution, and after a series of unfortunate events, his parents decide the best thing to do is to send Julian and his two older brothers to the United States of America. They can not get passage for themselves yet, so they concentrate on getting their children out to safety.

Julian and his brothers do not want to go to this strange country without their parents but t
Richie Partington
Jul 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
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 a
Yuri Burtamekh
This book was pretty good. I enjoyed the plot line, the way the author wrote and the way the characters over came their problems. If you are the person who enjoys a good giggle, check this book out. The one thing I disliked in the book was that everything was too sudden. For example, the beginning few chapters they are already packing for Cuba.

Yuri Burtamekh
Mar 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
I loved the thrill of the book it put you right inside. I thought some parts were a little slow but I am glad I stuck with it! I recommend this book totally if you're a fan of adventure and risk! 4/5! ...more
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
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
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.
Teresa Scherping Moulton
Young Julian knows that if his family can catch a big fish off the coast of their home in Havana, Cuba, on New Year's Eve, it will bring luck for the entire year. He is devastated when, given his chance to reel in that big fish, he makes a mistake and loses it, snapping the fishing line. Bearing the shame of his failure in front of his father and older brothers, he is soon distracted by the commotion in Havana - Cuba's dictator has fled the country, ushering in a revolution. The new leaders of C ...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
May 12, 2014 rated it liked it
I would recommend this book to young adults who know some background information about Cuba. This book is set in the time period of Fidel Castro coming into power and a revolution taking place. Julian and his brothers, Alquilino and Gordo were sent to Miami from Havana, Cuba by their parents. Their parents felt it was best to send their kids to Miami while they had a chance for a better life. Once the boys arrived in Miami, they were sent to a refugee camp for kids to stay at temporarily. Julian ...more
Owen K
Jan 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
In the novel 90 Miles to Havana by Enrique Flores-Galbis, Julian and his family face the revolution in Cuba, and are forced to try and leave the country, as are many others. The problem is, his parents can’t make it right away, forcing them to go to a camp in Florida. At this camp, they make friends, and they make enemies, such as Caballo, the bully and leader of the camp. When Gordo and Alquilino, Julian’s brothers, are sent to the infamous Denver camp, splitting the family up, Julian tries to ...more
Patty O.
Oct 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Imagine being in your early teens and being shipped off to another country along with your brothers but your parents have to stay behind. This is how the book 90 Miles to Havana begins; young Julian and his two older brothers get shipped from Cuba to Florida in order seek safety from the revolution that is breaking out in their home country. Once they arrive they find out that things aren’t really any better in the temporarily foster home they are put in while the director finds them a more perm ...more
Rachel Walker
As an American educator often times you desire to inform students about other cultures history; but multicultural history is not easily found in American school textbooks and every student may not naturally have a drive to learn about other cultures. So to sort of sneak it up on them, there are historical fiction books that inform readers of history with an interesting storyline.

90 Miles to Havana by Enrique Flores-Galbis does a great job at explaining events that took place during the Cuban re
Chris Trevino
Jan 07, 2013 rated it liked it
This book is an autobiography about Enrique Flores-Galbis life as a kid growing up with his two brothers while being seperated.Without a doubt this was a very interesting book that had a lot of detail about the characters aventurous life. Although,it was interesting it's not a book that I would decide to read again. I was very confused at times in the book because there was many characters always talking at once and I never knew who was talking.For example,at one time all three brothers would b ...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
Samantha Tai
Mar 15, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who likes to read historical fiction
If this book hadn't been a Pura Belpre Honor book I probably never would have picked it up. As it was, I started reading it without really knowing what it was about. I knew it won an award, so that was good enough for me. I'm really glad I did. I read about a period of history in a country that I know nothing about. The book is semi-autobiographical and takes place in 1961. My one criticism about the book is that I wish it had either an author's note or some historical information at the end of ...more
May 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
I started this book a year ago and was not sure I would finish it, party because I get easily distracted with other books I read so I can make recommendations to my students and partly because the story didn't really grab me at first. I'm glad I went back to this book, because the pace picked up as the book went on and became a real page turner at the end.

This story takes place at the time of Fidel Castro's revolution in Cuba. Julian is the youngest son in a wealthy family. Many wealthy families
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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

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