Penguin Random House
Winner of the Newbery Medal on two occasions, Katherine Paterson is a superb writer for children and now turns her hand to a historical narrative born out of personal interest.
For many outside of America, including me, there is a scant knowledge of Castro’s Cuba. This account of 13 year old Lora Llera echoes the actual actions of many of Cuba’s young people who willingly volunteered to become literacy tutors to the country’s peasant population in remote country areas. Castro’s plan to have the entire country literate within a year of launching of his program seemed impossible and implausible but the selflessness of these many teenagers achieved that remarkable goal.
These youngsters worked alongside their country compatriots during the day often in very primitive conditions and taught them at night. For those as young as Lora leaving their families, relative comfort and security was a huge undertaking but done with open though somewhat naïve attitudes.
While avoiding political comment, Paterson interweaves much history and social commentary on the overthrow of the Batista regime and the rise of Communism in Cuba.
Personally I found it quite fascinating though written quite simply it covers or at least suggests many large-scale concepts and throws new light on a little known historical period.
I would recommend it highly for readers both boys and girls from around ten years upwards.