First Person Fiction is dedicated to the immigrant experience in modern America. "Flight to Freedom" is closely based on Suarez's own story of leaving Cuba during the Freedom Flights of the 1960s.
Yara Garcia and her family live a middle-class life in Havana, Cuba. But in 1967, as Communist ruler Fidel Castro tightens his hold on Cuba, the Garcias, who do not share the political beliefs of the Communist Party, are forced to flee to Miami, Florida. There, Yara encounters a strange land with foreign customs. She knows very little English, and she finds that the other students in her new school have much more freedom than she and her sisters. Tension develops between her parents, as Mami grows more independent and Papi joins a militant anti-Castro organization.
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Ana Veciana-Suarez writes a popular syndicated column for the Tribune Content Agency. She is the author of The Chin Kiss King: A Novel, Flight to Freedom (a YA novel), and a book of essays, Birthday Parties in Heaven: Thoughts on Love, Life, Grief, and Other Matters of the Heart. She was born in Cuba and now lives in Miami with her husband. Her five adult children, she likes to say, have taught her immeasurable humility. Visit her website anavecianasuarez.com.From School Library Journal:
Grade 6-9-It is 1967, and Yara Garcia, 13, receives a blank diary from her father with the inscription, "For my studious daughter." He is leaving Havana for the countryside, where he is forced to work in the fields harvesting coffee since he has applied to emigrate to the U.S. The story unfolds via her entries. As the family waits for permission to leave, readers are told about the rationing of food, neighbors spying on neighbors to report disloyalties to Castro, and the humiliation of being labeled a "gusana"-a worm-a Cuban exile. Arrival in Miami is fraught with a new set of difficulties as language and cultural differences make adjustment painful. Yara's father is convinced that their stay in Florida will be temporary and short, to be endured until such time that they can return to their beloved homeland. In an afterword, Veciana-Suarez describes her firsthand experiences living in exile. Similar to titles in the "Dear America" series (Scholastic), this informative novel incorporates historical facts. The story and characters ring true in their portrayal of loss, longing, and the hope of starting a new life.
Elizabeth Fernandez, Brunswick Middle School, Greenwich, CT
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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