Cuba in My Pocket by Adrianna Cuevas Adrianna Cuevas is the story of a 12-year-old boy, Cumba, living in Cuba in 1961 during the Cold War. Fidel Castro has just come to power, and life has completely changed overnight. The US's attempt to oust him through the Bay of Pigs invasion was a failure. People are divided by political ideology, and those who do not agree with the dictator are targeted.

Cumba and his best friend Serapio play a game where they talk about how life has changed since Fidel. Soldiers threaten people, even children. Schools are shut down until the education system can be revamped with a Socialist worldview. His parents are under scrutiny because of their political views. Cumba's family lives in fear of him being sent off to a Soviet work camp to be trained as a Young Rebel, as soon as he has his next birthday. Life on the island paradise does not feel carefree or joyful anymore.

To avoid being taken away, Cumba is sent on a plane to Florida, to live with a great-aunt. Arriving in his new junior high, Cumba is not given any sort of language support or services. The "sink-or-swim" philosophy proves to be difficult as he navigates classes in English. As a teacher of multilingual learners, I found this glimpse into his experience to be heartbreaking and also beautiful.

When Cumba is sent to live with a new family in Key Largo, his life changes once again. Throughout the book, he lives in the hope that he will one day be reunited with his family.

This book was heartfelt, wholesome, and a beautiful first-person historical fiction piece based on a time I didn't know a lot about. Spanish is woven into the book in context in a thoughtful way, which is always a plus in my mind. I found it very educational and also an enjoyable read.

One final thought: I listened to the audiobook, and the narration by Anthony Rey Perez was excellent as always. I love his range of characters, ranging from Cubans who are just beginning to learn English to American accents. It definitely enhanced the experience. 

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