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Cuba in My Pocket

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By the author of 2021 Pura Belpré Honor Book The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez, a sweeping, emotional middle grade historical novel about a twelve-year-old boy who leaves his family in Cuba to immigrate to the U.S. by himself, based on the author's family history. The Spanish language edition! “I don’t remember. Tell me everything, Pepito. Tell me about Cuba.” When the faile By the author of 2021 Pura Belpré Honor Book The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez, a sweeping, emotional middle grade historical novel about a twelve-year-old boy who leaves his family in Cuba to immigrate to the U.S. by himself, based on the author's family history. The Spanish language edition! “I don’t remember. Tell me everything, Pepito. Tell me about Cuba.” When the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 solidifies Castro’s power in Cuba, twelve-year-old Cumba’s family makes the difficult decision to send him to Florida alone. Faced with the prospect of living in another country by himself, Cumba tries to remember the sound of his father’s clarinet, the smell of his mother’s lavender perfume. Life in the United States presents a whole new set of challenges. Lost in a sea of English speakers, Cumba has to navigate a new city, a new school, and new freedom all on his own. With each day, Cumba feels more confident in his new surroundings, but he continues to wonder: Will his family ever be whole again? Or will they remain just out of reach, ninety miles across the sea?


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By the author of 2021 Pura Belpré Honor Book The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez, a sweeping, emotional middle grade historical novel about a twelve-year-old boy who leaves his family in Cuba to immigrate to the U.S. by himself, based on the author's family history. The Spanish language edition! “I don’t remember. Tell me everything, Pepito. Tell me about Cuba.” When the faile By the author of 2021 Pura Belpré Honor Book The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez, a sweeping, emotional middle grade historical novel about a twelve-year-old boy who leaves his family in Cuba to immigrate to the U.S. by himself, based on the author's family history. The Spanish language edition! “I don’t remember. Tell me everything, Pepito. Tell me about Cuba.” When the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 solidifies Castro’s power in Cuba, twelve-year-old Cumba’s family makes the difficult decision to send him to Florida alone. Faced with the prospect of living in another country by himself, Cumba tries to remember the sound of his father’s clarinet, the smell of his mother’s lavender perfume. Life in the United States presents a whole new set of challenges. Lost in a sea of English speakers, Cumba has to navigate a new city, a new school, and new freedom all on his own. With each day, Cumba feels more confident in his new surroundings, but he continues to wonder: Will his family ever be whole again? Or will they remain just out of reach, ninety miles across the sea?

30 review for Cuba in My Pocket

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tanya

    I don't read a lot of historical fiction, but Cuba in My Pocket gave me ALL the feels. Although I'm not Cuban, I can relate to Cumba's journey of moving to a new unfamiliar place and struggling to fit in. It's all the more special because the story is based on the author's father. It was great to have the book start off in Cuba to give the reader historical context and to show how life could change so fast for someone like Cumba. As a foodie, I loved all the Cuban food references (now I'm cravin I don't read a lot of historical fiction, but Cuba in My Pocket gave me ALL the feels. Although I'm not Cuban, I can relate to Cumba's journey of moving to a new unfamiliar place and struggling to fit in. It's all the more special because the story is based on the author's father. It was great to have the book start off in Cuba to give the reader historical context and to show how life could change so fast for someone like Cumba. As a foodie, I loved all the Cuban food references (now I'm craving!) and I also found it highly amusing to see Cumba react to food in America, (oatmeal!) Cuba in My Pocket is sheer perfection and I am pretty sure it's going to win awards. Highly recommend!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kathie

    Thank you to Edelweiss+ and the publisher for an eARC of this book. CUBA IN MY POCKET is a historical fiction story about a young boy’s journey from Cuba to the United States to escape conscription into service for Fidel Castro. He travels alone to Miami to live with a distant relative and other youth who also left Cuba, hoping for better circumstances. He worries about the family he left behind while also struggling to learn English, navigate the school system, and help his friends connect with Thank you to Edelweiss+ and the publisher for an eARC of this book. CUBA IN MY POCKET is a historical fiction story about a young boy’s journey from Cuba to the United States to escape conscription into service for Fidel Castro. He travels alone to Miami to live with a distant relative and other youth who also left Cuba, hoping for better circumstances. He worries about the family he left behind while also struggling to learn English, navigate the school system, and help his friends connect with lost family members. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and became invested in the story. The idea of a young person leaving their family to travel to a new country where they didn’t speak the language and assimilate without any assistance was mindboggling, especially when I knew the author’s family inspired the story. I really liked we started the story in Cuba and got a good glimpse into Cumba’s life and the family’s decision to send him to the US. I was glad he ended up in favourable living arrangements, but my heart still went out to him and all the things he needed to learn on his own. I loved the connections he made with other youth facing similar circumstances and how they supported each other. I felt like I learned so much and developed a better understanding of history presented to me in a very one-sided way. This story reminded me of Barefoot of Petra Luna by Alda P. Dobbs, another story coming later this year, which also addresses escaping to the United States from a country filled with violence. I think these are timely stories as there is conflicting information about immigration in the news. Young readers need to understand the type of circumstances from which individuals are escaping to develop empathy, and I would recommend this book as a class read aloud to discuss for Gr. 5-7.

  3. 4 out of 5

    ⛅ Saniya (sunnysidereviews) ⛅

    This cover is so gorgeous, I can't wait to read this gem! This cover is so gorgeous, I can't wait to read this gem!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas Perez

    This book is very close to being like when my father came from Cuba. There's some differences, but it is definitely for me. This book is very close to being like when my father came from Cuba. There's some differences, but it is definitely for me.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ms. Yingling

    E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus Cumba loves hanging out in his small Cuban town with his friends in 1961, although tensions have been rising ever since Fidel Castro overthrew Batista in 1959. While Batista's government cause some problems, Cumba is seeing worrying things going on in his community. His friends even play a game they call "Antes de Fidel, Despues de Fidel" where they talk about the changes in school, food, and more serious issues like soldiers on the street. Cumba's family (which i E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus Cumba loves hanging out in his small Cuban town with his friends in 1961, although tensions have been rising ever since Fidel Castro overthrew Batista in 1959. While Batista's government cause some problems, Cumba is seeing worrying things going on in his community. His friends even play a game they call "Antes de Fidel, Despues de Fidel" where they talk about the changes in school, food, and more serious issues like soldiers on the street. Cumba's family (which includes younger brother Pepito) is especially worried, since his father had been a lawyer in the Adjutant General's Office under Batista, and his mother is a dentist. His grandparents, especially his abuelo, don't like what has happened to their country, but more than anything, want to stay safe. When the army starts to conscript young boys, sending them to Russian to train, Cumba's family uses their influence to plan to get Cumba to Florida. They obtain a fake passport from their tailor, a German Jewish man who escaped the Nazis, and get a ticket to fly out of another city. Cumba is supposed to report for duty on July 10th, so is set to fly out a few days before, but the local recruiter, Ignacio, come to take Cumba away early. The family protests, saying Cumba is ill, and luckily, he is frightened enough that he throws up on Ignacio's shoes. He does manage to make his flight, and soon is on his way to Miami with another young girl, Adelita. The two commiserate, and hope that their time in the US will pass quickly. Cumba is met by Prima Benita, but Adelita is taken away by a dour looking nun. Prima Benita has been trying to help out as many families in Cuba as she can, and she also has an older boy, Alejandro, and a young woman, Valeria. She is very kind, even though Cumba doesn't care for the oatmeal that she feeds them, and gives him a small allowance which he uses to buy hamburgers and cokes. The man at the soda fountain, Marvin, helps Cumba learn a bit more English, but it is still rough to start school. The teachers and students are mostly kind, but the halls are loud, and all the classes but math are very difficult. He makes a friend in Arnold, who is obsessed with race horses but needs Cumba's help with math, and Cumba slowly settles in to his life, writing his brother frequently and hoping for news from home. When Benita must take in more relatives, Cumba is moved to a foster home in Key Largo with the Reynolds family, and starting over again is difficult. The Reynolds are very kind, and have a young son about Pepito's age, but worries about his parents in Cuba continue. Will he be reunited with his family before he forgets more about them? Strengths: This is a fascinating time in history, and even addresses the Bay of Pigs invasion, which I knew very little about. The depiction of every day life in Cuba, especially Cumba's experiences hanging out with friends and at school, makes the story even more poignant once things start to break down, and will help young readers to understand why coming to the US isn't Cumba's preference. Life in the US is depicted as challenging, but in some ways a relief. It was interesting that he does make friends with the other immigrants at Benitas, and even ends up in school with a former classmate in Key Largo. The story moved along at an excellent pace, and alternated nicely between Cumba's concerns for his family and his experiences navigating his new country. The fact that this is based on the author's father's life makes this really sing. Weaknesses: The cover is fine, but could have been absolutely amazing if it had included 1960s Miami colors and graphics. And, come on, no Belaire font for the cover? And where's Cumba's suit or Guayabera shirt? So many missed opportunies! What I really think: Excellent addition to a small but growing body of middle grade literature about Cuba that includes Behar's Letters from Cuba, and Lucky Broken Girl, Gonzalez's The Red Umbrella, Flores-Galbis' 90 Miles to Havana and Ada's Island Treasures: Growing Up in Cuba. I'm always uncomfortable with Paterson's My Brigadista Year, even though it's really informative. Castro was in power for a long time, but clearly the majority of Cuban's in the US were not fans.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kary H.

    Thanks to NetGalley for an e-arc of this book. I found this middle grade historical fiction to be sheer perfection. Cumba, 12 years old, lives in Cuba with his parent and little brother Pepito. His abuelo and abuela are dear to him as are a host of other family members. Fidel Castro, however, has taken over the country, as have his soldiers, and Cumba faces the threat of military service. To avoid that, his parents send him to Miami. I knew little of this time in history and loved learning about Thanks to NetGalley for an e-arc of this book. I found this middle grade historical fiction to be sheer perfection. Cumba, 12 years old, lives in Cuba with his parent and little brother Pepito. His abuelo and abuela are dear to him as are a host of other family members. Fidel Castro, however, has taken over the country, as have his soldiers, and Cumba faces the threat of military service. To avoid that, his parents send him to Miami. I knew little of this time in history and loved learning about it through the eyes of Cumba. His time in the United States is beautifully portrayed, and you will cheer for Cumba as he tries to get acclimated to new families, new friends, and a new life. I 100% recommend this book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Joanne Kelleher

    When Cumba and his family no longer feel safe in Cuba, his parents send him to Florida with the hope of joining him there soon. Cumba is homesick, worried about his family, struggling to learn English, and not connecting with his surly roommate in his temporary placement. And he doesn’t understand how anyone can eat oatmeal! As might be expected, Cumba has some negative experiences in his new country. He rankles at the idea that he is expected to be the “Cuban ambassador”; why is he expected to s When Cumba and his family no longer feel safe in Cuba, his parents send him to Florida with the hope of joining him there soon. Cumba is homesick, worried about his family, struggling to learn English, and not connecting with his surly roommate in his temporary placement. And he doesn’t understand how anyone can eat oatmeal! As might be expected, Cumba has some negative experiences in his new country. He rankles at the idea that he is expected to be the “Cuban ambassador”; why is he expected to speak for everyone Cuban? Cumba also becomes aware of anti-immigrant sentiments. For the most part, though, Cumba is safe and well-cared for and makes good progress. Young readers will identify with Cumba missing his family, trying new foods, and meeting new people. His everyday familiar struggles provide a springboard for conversations about the larger social issues presented in the book. There is also a glossary of the Spanish words and expressions used throughout the book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Cassie Thomas

    “Your heart will always be in Cuba.” 🇨🇺 Set during 1961 and Castro has control, Cumba’s family is in a dire situation for his safety and decide to send him to the United States. Once arriving in America, life is not so simple like he had assumed. Struggles come in many forms and fashions as he learns to navigate this new “home”. 🇨🇺 This story is so relative to so many in today’s time, even though it takes place 60 years ago. Themes of courage, strength, oppression, fear, and full of hope will gu “Your heart will always be in Cuba.” 🇨🇺 Set during 1961 and Castro has control, Cumba’s family is in a dire situation for his safety and decide to send him to the United States. Once arriving in America, life is not so simple like he had assumed. Struggles come in many forms and fashions as he learns to navigate this new “home”. 🇨🇺 This story is so relative to so many in today’s time, even though it takes place 60 years ago. Themes of courage, strength, oppression, fear, and full of hope will guide students and relate to their own life navigation in middle grades. As a teacher, you can use this in so many ways paired with many nonfiction articles in regards to Castro and Bay of Pigs. Thank you NetGalley and Macmillan for sharing this wonderful story.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ernesto Cisneros

    I had the opportunity of reading an early ARC. The story is full of heart and did a great job of educating me about a part of US history I knew very little about. “A harrowing and important read. Cuevas explores an often-hidden moment in Cuban American history with heart, compassion, and authenticity.”

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Hegedus

    I think that this is the book that will finally get me wholeheartedly on the audiobook train. I’ve been in a huge slump because of grad school and I feel this book just opened up a whole new world of reading. The narration was captivating and simply beautiful. The story was compelling, heartbreaking, and hopeful. True to my brand, this book destroyed me.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tracey

    Thank you to NetGalley for an E-ARC of this book. It’s 1961 in Cuba and Cumba, a sensitive, observant 12 year old boy, knows things feel different in his country. under "Fidel." His family whispers too much. Scary soldiers with long, dark beards are everywhere. And one of them targets Cumba for military service. Desperate, his family sends him to Miami alone, where he has to adapt to life in the United States with a language he doesn't know and people he's never met. If this book doesn't win awar Thank you to NetGalley for an E-ARC of this book. It’s 1961 in Cuba and Cumba, a sensitive, observant 12 year old boy, knows things feel different in his country. under "Fidel." His family whispers too much. Scary soldiers with long, dark beards are everywhere. And one of them targets Cumba for military service. Desperate, his family sends him to Miami alone, where he has to adapt to life in the United States with a language he doesn't know and people he's never met. If this book doesn't win awards, I'll be surprised. It was perfect. Cuevas is a gifted writer, and for the first half of the book, you will feel both the beauty of Cuba and the fear of the main characters. The second half takes place in Miami, and you'll feel as lost as Cumba as he navigates his living arrangements, his new schools and learning English. The book is based on stories the author heard from her father, who was sent to the U.S. at age fifteen. This might be why the characters feel so real. Although this is historical fiction and takes place in 1961, the story is similar to many of the students I've taught who have come to the U.S. alone. This is a must-read for anyone who works with kids. The ending is perfect. And I really want a sequel!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Binxie

    Cumba's immigrant story is full of memorable characters and events. On the island of Cuba, Castro is taking control. Life is forever changed for Cumba and his family. Drawing on her grandparent's experiences, Cuevas makes this part of history accessible to young readers. I laughed, cried, and kept turning the pages enjoying every moment. Readers will be captivated. Cumba's immigrant story is full of memorable characters and events. On the island of Cuba, Castro is taking control. Life is forever changed for Cumba and his family. Drawing on her grandparent's experiences, Cuevas makes this part of history accessible to young readers. I laughed, cried, and kept turning the pages enjoying every moment. Readers will be captivated.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Anita Ojeda

    When Fidel Castro liberates Cuba, 12-year-old Cumba Fernandez doesn’t feel liberated. He feels scared. Soldiers with guns on every street corner, neighbors whispering against neighbor, and his comfortable life in Santa Clara no longer feels comfortable. His parents, a lawyer and a dentist, come under scrutiny from the new regime. In fact, one solider, a boyhood friend of his father’s, seems to take particular interest in the Fernandez family and their loyalty to Castro’s cause. When he demands C When Fidel Castro liberates Cuba, 12-year-old Cumba Fernandez doesn’t feel liberated. He feels scared. Soldiers with guns on every street corner, neighbors whispering against neighbor, and his comfortable life in Santa Clara no longer feels comfortable. His parents, a lawyer and a dentist, come under scrutiny from the new regime. In fact, one solider, a boyhood friend of his father’s, seems to take particular interest in the Fernandez family and their loyalty to Castro’s cause. When he demands Cumba join Castro’s Young Rebel movement, the Fernandez family bands together to get Cumba out of Cuba before the deadline. In 1961, leaving Cuba means giving up all connection with home—except for infrequent letters. Will Cumba’s family ever make it out alive? And how will he ever fit in at a new school where he doesn’t understand the teachers or the students? Why I Loved this Book My husband and his family escaped from Cuba in 1969. I’ve heard stories from his family about their time in Cuba (he was three when they left, so doesn’t remember much), and Cuevas’s book helps me understand the political and social upheaval my husband and his family experienced. Readers will appreciate Cumba’s sense of humor and adaptability in the face of peril. Although Cumba sees and hears things he wishes he could unsee and unhear, he finds ways to cling to the positive. When he lands in a foreign country with no close family members, he forages friendships and builds relationships which will help sustain him while he awaits word from Cuba. Cuevas paints beautifully poignant pictures of Cuba, family, and friendships. Readers will appreciate this own-voices book for the lyrical beauty of the words and the understanding it brings to the complexities of history, immigration, and childhood. Fans of Laura Ojeda Melchor and Angeline Boulley will enjoy Cuba in My Pocket.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kate Waggoner

    Thank you to #NetGalley and Macmillan Children's Publishing Group for allowing me to read a digital ARC of Cuba in My Pocket by Adrianna Cuevas. This middle grade historical fiction novel will be published on September 21, 2021. All opinions are my own. After Castro's power is solidified following the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961, twelve-year-old Cumba's life is turned upside down. He is no longer safe in Cuba. Staying would mean having to report to the local garrison to train as a soldier Thank you to #NetGalley and Macmillan Children's Publishing Group for allowing me to read a digital ARC of Cuba in My Pocket by Adrianna Cuevas. This middle grade historical fiction novel will be published on September 21, 2021. All opinions are my own. After Castro's power is solidified following the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961, twelve-year-old Cumba's life is turned upside down. He is no longer safe in Cuba. Staying would mean having to report to the local garrison to train as a soldier. His family makes the difficult decision to send him, alone, to the United States. Once in the U.S., Cumba struggles to navigate a new city and new freedom that is all his own. He's lost in a sea of English speakers and misses his family His only connections to Cuba are an unlucky domino he keeps in his pocket and the letters he receives from his little brother, Pepito. He wonders if he will ever see his family again or if they will remain just out reach, ninety miles across the ocean. This is a beautifully written story of identity, family, home, and hope. Cuevas does an amazing job of conveying Cumba's feelings of loss and confusion. There is a huge focus on the importance of family and how family is not only the people you're related to by blood, but the people you choose to love and support. I found the book to be super engaging and loved the narrative voice. It gives insight into the refugee and immigrant experience as well as the period of Castro's reign in Cuba which many middle grade readers may not be familiar with. The story is based on the experiences of the author's father which makes this story even more inspiring and heart-wrenching. Cumba is an inspiration and a character readers will be able to relate to and root for. I can't wait to add this book to my classroom library.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Magdalena

    The following is from the review I posted on my personal blog: It’s 1961 in Santa Clara, Cuba, and life has been turned upside down by Fidel Castro’s rise to power and the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. Twelve-year-old Cumba Fernandez and his family and friends live in fear of Fidel’s soldiers, especially since Cumba is old enough to be forced into joining the garrison. His parents decide to protect him by sending him to Florida. In order to successfully escape Cuba, Cumba needs falsified documents The following is from the review I posted on my personal blog: It’s 1961 in Santa Clara, Cuba, and life has been turned upside down by Fidel Castro’s rise to power and the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. Twelve-year-old Cumba Fernandez and his family and friends live in fear of Fidel’s soldiers, especially since Cumba is old enough to be forced into joining the garrison. His parents decide to protect him by sending him to Florida. In order to successfully escape Cuba, Cumba needs falsified documents claiming that he will be studying in America. Once in Florida, Cumba must navigate all the challenges of life in a new country with a different language. With the help of various new friends, he gradually acclimates, but all the while, he misses his homeland and fears for his family’s safety. Much of the book centers around Cumba’s conflicting desires to hold onto his memories and relationships, but also to “forget where [he came] from in order so [he] can bear being in a new place.” For middle grade readers who don’t necessarily know much about Cuba or its role in the Cold War, this book is an eye-opening picture of what life is like amidst such extreme political turmoil. Although Cuba in My Pocket doesn’t say much about communism itself or the greater context of the Cold War, it has a lot of educational value for the context it will offer to students when they encounter those topics elsewhere.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    Cuba in My Pocket” is an engaging middle grade novel set in 1961 in Santa Clara Cuba and Miami, Florida. Author Adrianna Cuevas drew on stories from her father to craft a work of historical fiction that explores themes of home, grief, and healing. The main character of Cumba lives with his parents, grandparents, and younger brother Pepito in a Cuba that has emerged from a revolution a changed country, where fears and suspicion threaten to bring continued violence. Cumba’s family is in danger, be Cuba in My Pocket” is an engaging middle grade novel set in 1961 in Santa Clara Cuba and Miami, Florida. Author Adrianna Cuevas drew on stories from her father to craft a work of historical fiction that explores themes of home, grief, and healing. The main character of Cumba lives with his parents, grandparents, and younger brother Pepito in a Cuba that has emerged from a revolution a changed country, where fears and suspicion threaten to bring continued violence. Cumba’s family is in danger, because of his father’s ties to the previous government. Cumba himself, will soon be forced to report for military training. His family decides to send Cumba to the United States for safety. The first half of the book contains the drama of their secret plan as its put in motion. In the latter part of the book Cumba struggles to adjust to life in America. Always he carries with him the pain and grief of leaving his family and homeland, represented literally by a domino, the "caja de muertos" that he keeps in his pocket. With the help of some new friends Cumba learns to be hopeful again. Cuevas’ story is one that will act as a mirror for many young immigrants. It is also one that will spark readers to want to read more about Cuban history and culture.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lisa McDonald

    Thanks to NetGalley for the eARC of Cuba In My Pocket by Adrianna Cuevas. A historical fiction novel that follows Cumba, a 12 year old boy, on his awe-inspiring journey from Cuba to the United States, Cuba In My Pocket is very realistic and relevant to today's times. The author did an amazing job at describing situations and emotions so well that you could really imagine yourself in Cumba's shoes. The book is based on the author's father's history of immigrating to the United States at age 15 by Thanks to NetGalley for the eARC of Cuba In My Pocket by Adrianna Cuevas. A historical fiction novel that follows Cumba, a 12 year old boy, on his awe-inspiring journey from Cuba to the United States, Cuba In My Pocket is very realistic and relevant to today's times. The author did an amazing job at describing situations and emotions so well that you could really imagine yourself in Cumba's shoes. The book is based on the author's father's history of immigrating to the United States at age 15 by himself, without knowing English, and without having family in the United States. Truly an amazing feat! Cumba, the main character, begins the story living in Cuba with his family in 1961. The Bay of Pigs invasion by the U.S. has failed and Fidel Castro is in charge, which means Cumba and his family live in fear. Cumba, especially, is in danger of being forced into being a boy soldier as soon as he turns 13, so his family decides to send him, alone, to the U. S. where he has a distant relative. The reader follows Cumba as he struggles to make friends, learn the language and the culture and deal with missing his family and homeland. I thoroughly recommend this book!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Vane Wayne

    First of all a big thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this arc. I enjoyed this historical middle grade story about Cumba who leaves his homeland Cuba to go to the United States of America in search of a better life. Cuba is a scary place to live. There are always soldiers invading peoples houses and everything is controlled by Fidel. Cumba wants nothing to do with Fidel and is send away to the United States to go to school. Keep in mind he has no close family and he is like 12 years ol First of all a big thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this arc. I enjoyed this historical middle grade story about Cumba who leaves his homeland Cuba to go to the United States of America in search of a better life. Cuba is a scary place to live. There are always soldiers invading peoples houses and everything is controlled by Fidel. Cumba wants nothing to do with Fidel and is send away to the United States to go to school. Keep in mind he has no close family and he is like 12 years old. Cumba is one smart and strong character and I really enjoy getting to know him. This book also brings a mix of emotions for one I was happy that Cumba left Cuba but then also sad because he is away from his family. The writing is easy to get into and fast paced. I love that it includes letters written to Cumba and letters that Cumba send his family as well. There was a part in the book that made me tear up and I loved the conclusion. I would highly recommend this book and I believe that Hispanics and Spanish speakers would relate to this story a lot also if you live in another country and move to a complete different country you can see yourself in this book.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Bethea

    Cumba is a twelve year old boy living in Cuba at the time Fidel Castro rises to power. Castro is rounding up boys ages twelve and up to send them to Russia to be trained in the military. In order to escape the horrors that have befallen Cuba, Cumba's parents make the difficult decision to send him to America in order to keep him safe. Cumba knows very little English and the move to Florida is very difficult for him. He misses his family and wonders if he will ever see them again. This novel touch Cumba is a twelve year old boy living in Cuba at the time Fidel Castro rises to power. Castro is rounding up boys ages twelve and up to send them to Russia to be trained in the military. In order to escape the horrors that have befallen Cuba, Cumba's parents make the difficult decision to send him to America in order to keep him safe. Cumba knows very little English and the move to Florida is very difficult for him. He misses his family and wonders if he will ever see them again. This novel touches upon a time in history in which many refugees, mainly children, were coming to the United States in search of a safer life. The story is told from Cumba's perspective and how he felt about all of the changes occurring in his life. The pain and sadness he experienced is evident in the writing and the reader can feel his emotions along with him. This is an important novel to help others understand why refugees come to the United States and what Americans can do to help welcome them and ease the transition. The story is told with Spanish phrases throughout, which made it difficult to follow at times as the author doesn't always explain what the phrases mean. At the end of the novel, I did discover that there was a glossary of terms, which would have been helpful to know before reading the book. If using this novel in a classroom setting, pre-teaching some of the Spanish vocabulary would be helpful to students. Thank you to #NetGalley and #MacmillanKids for an ARC of #CubainMyPocket by #AdriannaCuevas in exchange for an honest review. 4 1/2 stars (rounded to 5)

  20. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    I received an e-ARC of this book. Cuba in My Pocket is based on a true family story. With Cuba currently in turmoil again, this historical fiction novel is even more timely. In the book, Cuban soldiers shout, "Patria o muerte!" which means "Homeland or death" and today in Cuba, the people say "Patria y vida!" which means "Homeland and life!" When the Bay of Pigs Invasion fails, twelve year old Cumba Fernandez's family sends him to the United States to prevent him from being sent to the Soviet Unio I received an e-ARC of this book. Cuba in My Pocket is based on a true family story. With Cuba currently in turmoil again, this historical fiction novel is even more timely. In the book, Cuban soldiers shout, "Patria o muerte!" which means "Homeland or death" and today in Cuba, the people say "Patria y vida!" which means "Homeland and life!" When the Bay of Pigs Invasion fails, twelve year old Cumba Fernandez's family sends him to the United States to prevent him from being sent to the Soviet Union for military training. Cueva devotes a fair amount of time to the rising tensions in Cuba and the what the family must go through to send their son away. Once in the U.S., Cumba has much to learn and worries for the safety of the family he left behind in Cuba. It is easy to put yourself in Cumba's shoes and worry with him as to what the future holds. You may be familiar with stories of Cuban refugees fleeing in small boats or rafts, but this story seems to take place before the major exodus and, for me at least, filled in some of the lesser known history of the era.

  21. 4 out of 5

    TheNextGenLibrarian

    “Your heart will always be in Cuba.” 🇨🇺 After The Bay of Pigs has Castro in power in 1961, Cumba’s family decides to send him to America so that he won’t be pulled into being a Young Rebel. But life in America is just as scary and foreign as Cumba thought. He struggles with the language, the school and his new found freedom away from his family that he’s so desperately trying to remember each day. How long until he can see his family again? 90 miles has never seemed so far away. 🇺🇸 Even though thi “Your heart will always be in Cuba.” 🇨🇺 After The Bay of Pigs has Castro in power in 1961, Cumba’s family decides to send him to America so that he won’t be pulled into being a Young Rebel. But life in America is just as scary and foreign as Cumba thought. He struggles with the language, the school and his new found freedom away from his family that he’s so desperately trying to remember each day. How long until he can see his family again? 90 miles has never seemed so far away. 🇺🇸 Even though this MG book took place in a time I wasn’t alive, I could feel Cumba’s fear and his family’s oppression as if it was happening now. This story is one full of hope, as we root for Cumba’s success throughout the novel. I loved the mix of Spanish that’s present in the book So many students will love @adriannacuevas second novel as much as they loved her first one: The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez. Thank you Netgalley for an ARC Grab a copy for yourself and your library on September 21!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    Cuba in My Pocket is a powerful book -- a must-read for middle grade and YA students! I'll admit that I didn't learn much about the history of Cuba or the takeover by Fidel as a child, and it was heart-wrenching to read about from Cumba's point of view. I didn't realize how much of the book would take place IN Cuba, but the action started to pick up about 1/3 of the way in. So many amazing characters were woven into Cumba's experiences, and I really felt the truth of Mr. Rogers' quote about look Cuba in My Pocket is a powerful book -- a must-read for middle grade and YA students! I'll admit that I didn't learn much about the history of Cuba or the takeover by Fidel as a child, and it was heart-wrenching to read about from Cumba's point of view. I didn't realize how much of the book would take place IN Cuba, but the action started to pick up about 1/3 of the way in. So many amazing characters were woven into Cumba's experiences, and I really felt the truth of Mr. Rogers' quote about looking for the helpers. As current events unfold in the Middle East, I think Cuba in My Pocket can help 21st-century kids develop empathy for refugees fleeing Afghanistan under a terrorist regime. Content warning: please be aware that there are frightening scenes involving Cuban soldiers, including a firing squad (and references to it later). (I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

  23. 4 out of 5

    Emily Bush

    Cuba in my Pocket is loosely based on the author’s dad and his life. Cumba Fernandez leaves Cuba shortly after the Bay of Pigs invasion to avoid having to go into Fidel Castro’s program for young soldiers. His parents send him to Miami to live with a cousin all by himself. He doesn’t understand the language or the way of life in the United States. Slowly, Cumba makes some friends who help him with his English and help him become more acclimated to life in the US. Through all of his experiences, Cuba in my Pocket is loosely based on the author’s dad and his life. Cumba Fernandez leaves Cuba shortly after the Bay of Pigs invasion to avoid having to go into Fidel Castro’s program for young soldiers. His parents send him to Miami to live with a cousin all by himself. He doesn’t understand the language or the way of life in the United States. Slowly, Cumba makes some friends who help him with his English and help him become more acclimated to life in the US. Through all of his experiences, Cumba realizes even though it is hard to leave your family behind, it is possible to find people that become like family in other places. A wonderful, heartfelt book about immigration, the harsh reality of life in Cuba in the 60s, and what family really means. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the advanced copy.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lorie Barber

    Absolutely beautiful fictionalized narrative based on the life of the author’s father, Cuba In My Pocket comes to us at an apropos time in our history. There are so many connections students will be able to make through this book: governments and what happens to people in power (and to those without power), current questions about refugees and immigration, and the adjustment to a new life in a strange place, just to name a few. I’ve learned quite a bit about Cuba and it’s history through middle Absolutely beautiful fictionalized narrative based on the life of the author’s father, Cuba In My Pocket comes to us at an apropos time in our history. There are so many connections students will be able to make through this book: governments and what happens to people in power (and to those without power), current questions about refugees and immigration, and the adjustment to a new life in a strange place, just to name a few. I’ve learned quite a bit about Cuba and it’s history through middle grade books, and this one is another that I’d add to a collection that includes - among others - Letters From Cuba, Lucky Broken Girl, Lion Island, Drum Dream Girl, Refugee, and The Red Umbrella.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Audra

    Excellently written, vivid story of a teen boy during the rise of Fidel Castro, as well as his immigrant experience in the United States. Cuevas captures the fear, anxiety, and the way that this trauma lingers in your bones, while creating a portrait of family and friendship love and survival. I also appreciated the insight into how overwhelming school can feel -- especially when people are being unhelpful or even flat out racist. This book will surely spark conversations among young people. I re Excellently written, vivid story of a teen boy during the rise of Fidel Castro, as well as his immigrant experience in the United States. Cuevas captures the fear, anxiety, and the way that this trauma lingers in your bones, while creating a portrait of family and friendship love and survival. I also appreciated the insight into how overwhelming school can feel -- especially when people are being unhelpful or even flat out racist. This book will surely spark conversations among young people. I read this book shortly after reading the book My Brigadista Year, and I also recommend reading them together if you are interested. They are written during the same time period, but from different perspectives.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    This book is perfect for my middle school classroom. It combines a historical even that is unfamiliar with an immigrant childhood story that is very familiar. for some students. Cumba has to flew Cuba after Fidel's revolution to come to the United States on his own. When he leaves Cuba he doesn't know if he will see his family, friends, or country again. The author sprinkled in Spanish words and also provided a glossary to help those of us who don't speak Spanish. Cumba experience once he reache This book is perfect for my middle school classroom. It combines a historical even that is unfamiliar with an immigrant childhood story that is very familiar. for some students. Cumba has to flew Cuba after Fidel's revolution to come to the United States on his own. When he leaves Cuba he doesn't know if he will see his family, friends, or country again. The author sprinkled in Spanish words and also provided a glossary to help those of us who don't speak Spanish. Cumba experience once he reaches the U.S. are both scary and funny as are most middle school adventures. Will Cumba ever learn to hope again or will bad luck always follow him? The author's note is a can't miss feature of this book and could be very helpful if looking at it for a lesson.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany

    This story is engaging, easy to understand, but at the same time does not water down the significance of this era in history that is likely not heavily studied in their history classes (the Bay of Pigs Invasion during the Kennedy era). Many students today who are immigrants or refugees may find they relate to the main character, so that representation in this book makes it perfect for a classroom. This book would pair nicely with a cross-curricular unit about the Bay of Pigs Invasion if studied This story is engaging, easy to understand, but at the same time does not water down the significance of this era in history that is likely not heavily studied in their history classes (the Bay of Pigs Invasion during the Kennedy era). Many students today who are immigrants or refugees may find they relate to the main character, so that representation in this book makes it perfect for a classroom. This book would pair nicely with a cross-curricular unit about the Bay of Pigs Invasion if studied in a social studies class. Thank you NetGalley for an Advanced Reader Copy in exchange for an honest review.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an early copy in return for an honest review. I love historical fiction, and when I found out this book was inspired by the real life events of the author's father, I was even more interested in reading the story. And it did not disappoint. I was engaged in the story from the first page and particularly liked the use of letters between Pepito and Cumba. A beautiful story about family, friendship, and home. Teaching Note: Would be very interesting to p With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an early copy in return for an honest review. I love historical fiction, and when I found out this book was inspired by the real life events of the author's father, I was even more interested in reading the story. And it did not disappoint. I was engaged in the story from the first page and particularly liked the use of letters between Pepito and Cumba. A beautiful story about family, friendship, and home. Teaching Note: Would be very interesting to pair this with Inside Out & Back Again and have students compare the experiences of Cumba and Hà.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

    This comes out in September but is a powerful 6th grade read. If you give summer reading, this is a fabulous 6th grade option for the summer reading list. Add to the list the graphic novel They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson, Love Like Sky Lucy Youngblood, and the classic Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen. There are so many great options for 6th grade summer reading that I know I have forgotten over the 27 years I have been teaching, but this is a great addition. This comes out in September but is a powerful 6th grade read. If you give summer reading, this is a fabulous 6th grade option for the summer reading list. Add to the list the graphic novel They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson, Love Like Sky Lucy Youngblood, and the classic Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen. There are so many great options for 6th grade summer reading that I know I have forgotten over the 27 years I have been teaching, but this is a great addition.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Librarylady

    Just look at that vibrant cover! That is the first thing that drew me to this story. Amazingly, Adrianna Cuevas made Cumba's story of fleeing Castro's Cuba just as vibrant. The reader understands his terror of both leaving his family behind or staying and being conscripted into the Army at only 12 years old. Follow Cumba on his journey to America which is just as frightening and uncertain. This is an amazing story for anyone who has had to leave their country and just as amazing for anyone who h Just look at that vibrant cover! That is the first thing that drew me to this story. Amazingly, Adrianna Cuevas made Cumba's story of fleeing Castro's Cuba just as vibrant. The reader understands his terror of both leaving his family behind or staying and being conscripted into the Army at only 12 years old. Follow Cumba on his journey to America which is just as frightening and uncertain. This is an amazing story for anyone who has had to leave their country and just as amazing for anyone who hasn't so they can understand what it is like.

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