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90 Miles to Havana Paperback – September 18, 2012
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90 Miles to Havana is a 2011 Pura Belpré Honor Book for Narrative and a 2011 Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year.
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.
“Flores-Galbis ably portrays the harsh realities these young Cuban immigrants faced: little hope of reunification with family members, dwindling resources, and insufficient government support, while also conveying their resilience in the face of emotional upheaval.” ―Publishers Weekly
“Inspired by Flores-Galbis' experiences as a Pedro Pan refugee, the fast-moving story should easily hook both historical-fiction and adventure readers.” ―Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“It's hard to imagine any child putting this book down.” ―School Library Journal
“It will introduce readers to a not-so-distant period whose echoes are still felt today and inspire admiration for young people who had to be brave despite frightening and lonely odds.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“Drawing on his own experience as a child refugee from Cuba, Flores-Galbis offers a gripping historical novel about children who were evacuated from Cuba to the U.S. during Operation Pedro Pan in 1961. . . . This is a seldom-told refugee story that will move readers with the first-person, present-tense rescue narrative, filled with betrayal, kindness, and waiting for what may never come.” ―Booklist
About the Author
- Publisher : Square Fish; Reprint edition (September 18, 2012)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1250005590
- ISBN-13 : 978-1250005595
- Reading age : 9 - 12 years
- Lexile measure : 790L
- Grade level : 3 - 4
- Item Weight : 8.3 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.15 x 1 x 7.65 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #27,498 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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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. I found it endearing that throughout the book, even though there is a revolution and they are separated from their parents, Julian's main struggle is one of being an only child. HIs family is so used to seeing his as the baby who isn't ready for any type of responsibility that they hold onto that view of him long after he grows out of it. It is such a universal character arch and helps to make Julian more accessible. The family dynamics are very realistic. You can feel both their affection for and frustration with one another.
I think that Bebo the families servant is my favorite character. He sees everything and everyone so clearly. He also represents the population of Cubans for whom the Revolution was something positive. He let Julian stretch his limits without doubting him or seeing his as incapable like his family. I think that everyone needs a Bebo in their lives at some point.
One weakness of this book was the rosy view of democracy. There is a subplot involving the children learning to use democracy to solve their problems. But none of them seem to understand the revolution that they just left in Cuba (understandable) which I think is essential if they are to understand the difference between the old Dictator, the new Communist government, and the US government. And since this is a middle-level book perhaps it needed to be made clearer to the reader. If you went into this book with no prior knowledge of the Cuban Revolution or the way that children were sent away right after it I think that it could be confusing.
This is definitely a book about plot. So much is happening that character development has to take a backseat. Which is a bit unfortunate because there are a lot of characters and the lack of development sometimes makes it difficult to differentiate between them. There is nothing special about the writing. There is a lovely analogy of the revolution involving eggs that I found particularly compelling but other than that the phrasing is a bit sparse and external for my taste. However, that sort of writing often works very well for reluctant readers who just want to "get on with the story."
I enjoyed this book quite a lot, and I am going to suggest it to students when school starts up again. If you are interested in a book about Cuba, growing up, or brotherhood then look no further.