The events surrounding Elian Gonzalez refocused attention upon the plight of Cuban refugees. In the case of Elian, the heroic survival of a five-year-old boy, whose mother sought asylum in the United States while his apparently loving father remained in Cuba, became enmeshed in US-Cuban relationships. Ultimately, Elian's fate symbolized the tragic elements that hound the people who have chosen to leave Cuba, as well as those remaining in their homeland. In this sociological study, Kathlyn Gay traces the history of modern day Cuba. Beginning with Castro's successful revolutionary takeover of Cuba, Gay does a solid job of presenting Cuba's political evolution, and weaves in individual tales of Cubans who chose to either flee their nation or send their children abroad in search of freedom. Perhaps the most interesting part of this book is the case study information related to specific young Cubans as they experience leaving their home and family behind. This forced, political migration offers both opportunities and dislocation. For many Cuban children, arriving in a world with a different culture, language, mores and values was a shock. The story of this adjustment and the multiple waves of Cuban migration make this a fascinating story. 2000, Twenty-First Century Books,
In graphic detail, Gay tells of the various, often dangerous means by which Cuban citizens have sought to escape their country's repressive Communist regime established in 1958 by Fidel Castro. This exodus began as far back as the early 1960s with a hastily conceived but well-orchestrated operation dubbed "Pedro Pan" (Peter Pan), whereby thousands of Cuban children were flown into the United States and put under the provisional care of qualified humanitarian programs until their parents could join them. In the following years, airlifts, boatlifts, and freedom flights continued to transport thousands of Cubans to American shores. In the 1980s, when Castro opened the port of Miami to emigrating Cubans, nearly 125,000 refugees came to Florida aboard "freedom flotillas." Throughout the 1990s, desperate Cubans defied Castro's police, risking their lives crossing the treacherous Florida straits in flimsy rafts or rickety boats. In November 1999, the Elian Gonzalez story focused worldwide attention on the volatile Cuban dilemma when an incredible emotional tug-of-war concerning the boy's destiny played itself out in headlines around the world. Rescued from near drowning off the Florida coast, the five-year-old went through hotly contested transfers in custody, until finally, in April 2000, the U.S. government resolved the situation by forcibly taking Elian from his Miami relatives to reunite him with his father. This well-documented book looks at the various aspects of the Cuban diaspora and its impact on Cubans and their American hosts. Interesting and informative, Gay's work will serve research needs on emigration and Cuban-American relations. Index. Illus. Photos. Maps. Source Notes.Further Reading. Appendix. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2000, Twenty-First Century, 144p, . Ages 12 to 18. Reviewer: Delia A. Culberson SOURCE: VOYA, June 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 2)
School Library Journal
Gr 6-10-In this well-researched book, Gay cites the efforts of centuries of freedom-loving Cubans to rid their country of foreign rule and oppression. The hoped-for changes that might have occurred as Fidel Castro and his guerillas took over the government in the late 1950s were never achieved and citizens began to seek respite from totalitarianism, especially for their children, according to the author. Large numbers of children were relocated with families in the United States in an airlift program that was dubbed "Operation Pedro Pan." Gay uses biographical sketches to put a human face on the agonies of family separation as well as the readjustment to life in a new country and culture. The book concludes with an unbiased reporting of the Elian Gonzalez case. This is a compellingly written treatment of Cuban refugees, especially as it relates to children. A time line of Cuban-American relations from 1959 to 2000 is appended. The graphic layout of the book is especially pleasing and black-and-white photographs are appropriately captioned and well placed. This title will be of particular interest in schools and libraries with significant Cuban populations and is a useful resource for anyone doing research on Cuban-American relations.-Sylvia V. Meisner, Allen Middle School, Greensboro, NC Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.