Hi everyone, the post this week is another booklist featuring a short-ish list of titles. My selection for you this week are four tales based on true events that happened to either the author directly or an ancestor of the author. So, if you have been waiting for such a list, then what are you waiting for…press the button below…
My first title, Letters from Cuba by Ruth Behar, takes readers to the days just before the Second World War. Told in the form of letters written to her sister, Esther’s story of life in Cuba during this time shows both a fascinating and heartwarming account. I liked the quiet strength and courage Esther showed as she helped her father in the rural community of Agramente. What I loved the most, apart from the colourful cast of characters, was the diversity of cultures that made up Cuban life. From the African Cubans descended from the slaves to those who immigrated from European and Asian countries, the cultures are varied and multilayered. This amazing read shows the resilience of the human spirit in the most challenging of times and is actually inspired by Ruth Behar’s own grandmother Esther’s immigrant story to Cuba!! You will find epistolary reads like these have a way of describing historical accounts better than those in narrative form.
This next read, When stars are scattered by Victoria Jamieson & Omar Mohammed, gives a powerful and evocative graphic novel describing the life of two brothers in a refugee camp in Kenya. Heartbreak, hope, and gentle humor exist together in this graphic novel about a childhood spent waiting, and a young man who is able to create a sense of family and home in the most difficult of settings. This story transported me to an Africa I never knew. The plight of young Omar and his brother Hassan is documented exquisitely in this graphic novel by Victoria Jamieson in a way that is easy for young readers to understand. Seeing Omar actually grow up and finally achieve his dream of leaving for the US and becoming a social worker brought tears to my eyes. Getting to know from both notes at the back the reality of these two remarkable people was eye-opening. I liked how the Important themes of displacement, refugee life, education and education for girls were expertly woven together into this graphic read!!
This next title, Inside out and back again by Thanha Lai, is a novel that is told entirely in verse. It tells the story of a young girl, Ha, and her family’s journey across the ocean as they flee the ravages of the Vietnam War as Saigon falls. This moving story is filled with all that changes for Ha in a year and it’s told in a lyrical voice showing not just heartbreak, but also that of her courage and resilience. I really enjoyed the imagery the poetry created and it was actually one of the first books in verse I read!! I hope you fall in love with this as I did with this award-winning story!! This was loosely based on what the author experienced on her own journey as a child during the 1970’s.
My last selection is I lived on Butterfly Hill, which was written by Marjorie Agosin, illustrated by Lee White, and translated in English by E. M. O’Connor. This historical story takes readers to Chile during the 1970’s when Pinochet seized power there. We meet eleven-year-old Celeste as she is sent thousands of miles away to the coast of Maine for her safety while her parents go into hiding. What follows is a poignant and heartwarming story of one girl’s courage as she faces an unknown future without her parents. To be honest I hadn’t known about this episode in Chile’s history until I read this book. The beautiful imagery and descriptive writing undertaken by Agosin allows us as a reader to connect with young Celeste and really feel for all that she experiences. Award-winning poet Marjorie Agosin weaves together history, mysticism, and personal experience to tell this story of a country in peril as only someone who’d lived through it could. I enjoyed this story but I would recommend it for older readers.
I hope you enjoyed these true stories about the journeys these youngsters had to endure in their lives. If anyone has read any similar reads I would love to hear of your choices and what you thought of my selections.
Stay safe and keep reading