Saturday, June 27, 2009

Tropical Secrets by - Holocaust Refugees in Cuba by Margarita Engle

Historical Fiction
193 pages

I'm officially a Margarita Engle fan! I reviewed her first book, The Surrender Tree, loved it. It was a very enjoyable read, flowing in verse and full of history and human emotion. Tropical Secrets is just as good. Like Tree, it's written in verse, and set in Cuba, but at a very different time in history. Secrets takes place from 1939 and 1942. It's about refugees from Europe, mostly Jewish, who sailed first to the US, hoping to find sanctuary. Their ship is turned away from New York and ends up in Cuba. Throughout the book, we hear 4 different voices; Daniel, a Jewish boy from Germany, put on the ship by his parents in order to save him from the Nazi's; Paloma, a Cuban girl who witnesses the plight of the Jews in Cuba with a soft heart; David, an old Jew from Russia who has been living in Cuba since he was young; and El Gordo, Paloma's extortionist father who takes every opportunity to make money from the suffering refugees. I like the various perspectives of the characters. You can feel their fear, courage, cowardice, and hope.
Tropical Secrets is a fast read, very well written, and you wont be able to NOT learn something.

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