The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba's Greatest Abolitionist

The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba's Greatest Abolitionist

by Margarita Engle
     
 

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“I find it so easy to forget / that I’m just a girl who is expected / to live / without thoughts.”

Opposing slavery in Cuba in the nineteenth century was dangerous. The most daring abolitionists were poets who veiled their work in metaphor. Of these, the boldest was Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, nicknamed Tula. In passionate,…  See more details below

Overview

“I find it so easy to forget / that I’m just a girl who is expected / to live / without thoughts.”

Opposing slavery in Cuba in the nineteenth century was dangerous. The most daring abolitionists were poets who veiled their work in metaphor. Of these, the boldest was Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, nicknamed Tula. In passionate, accessible verses of her own, Engle evokes the voice of this book-loving feminist and abolitionist who bravely resisted an arranged marriage at the age of fourteen, and was ultimately courageous enough to fight against injustice. Historical notes, excerpts, and source notes round out this exceptional tribute.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 6–10—Engle adds another superb title to her lengthening list of historical novels in verse. In The Lightning Dreamer, she brings to life the story of Cuban abolitionist and writer Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda. Tula, a 13-year-old with big thoughts, lives in fear of her encroaching betrothal. "My mother and grandfather are already planning to auction me away to the highest-bidding rich man," she rues. Even in such a simple statement, Engle metaphorically ties Tula's story to the plight of those for whom she's most concerned, the enslaved. Tula's dread of a loveless arranged marriage is second only to her fear that she'll be shackled to a slave owner. Whenever possible, she steals away to surreptitiously pour her thoughts out onto the page, an activity thought to be unsuitable for a young woman. Engle paints a vivid picture of Tula's world and summons her unique voice across the ages through clear, poignant verse. Historical notes at the book's end include brief biographies of Avellaneda and her idol, the Cuban poet José María Heredia, replete with excerpts of her writing. These excerpts provide readers with a direct sense of Avellaneda's style while evidencing how masterfully Engle has evoked her voice throughout the preceding verse. This is a must-have for collections where Engle's other works are known and loved or for anyone in need of a comparative study to our own country's struggle with slavery.—Jill Heritage Maza, Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJ
From the Publisher

A Pura Belpré Honor Book
Winner of the 2014 PEN Literary Award for Best Young Adult Book
VOYA Top Shelf for Middle School Readers 2013 list
2014 International Latino Book Award Honorable Mention
An NCTE Notable Book for the Language Arts
An ALSC Notable Children's Book for 2013
YALSA 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults


• "This is the context for a splendid novel that celebrates one brave woman who rejected a constrained existence with enduring words that continue to sing of freedom."
Booklist, starred review

"An inspiring fictionalized verse biography of one of Cuba's most influential writers. . . . Fiery and engaging, a powerful portrait of the liberating power of art."
Kirkus

"In these poems, their longings for freedom, their fears, their loves, and their heartaches are elegantly crafted through images that make the island of Cuba and its people vividly real and connect them to the hearts of contemporary readers."
Bulletin

"A quick and powerful read worthy of addition to any collection. The verses speak of tolerance and acceptance beyond the context of this story."
VOYA

"Engle adds another superb title to her lengthening list of historical novels in verse. . . . This is a must-have for . . . anyone in need of a comparative study to our own country's struggle with slavery."
—School Library Journal
 

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780547807478
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
03/19/2013
Sold by:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
192
Sales rank:
831,280
File size:
8 MB
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Margarita Engle is a Cuban-American poet and novelist whose work has been published in many countries. Her many acclaimed books include Silver People, The Lightning Dreamer, The Wild Book, and The Surrender Tree, a Newbery Honor Book. She is a several-time winner of the Pura Belpré and Américas awards, as well as other prestigious honors. She lives with her husband in Northern California. For more information, visit www.margaritaengle.com.

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