The Red Umbrella

The Red Umbrella

by Christina Diaz Gonzalez


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375854897
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 12/13/2011
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 44,841
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.74(h) x 0.69(d)
Lexile: 590L (what's this?)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Christina Diaz Gonzalez based this powerful novel on the experiences of her parents, and of the more than 14,000 other unaccompanied minors who came to the United States through Operation Pedro Pan. This mass exodus of children is a little-known and fascinating piece of history, and Gonzalez has created a story that brings that history vibrantly to life.


Gonzalez practiced law for several years before returning to her childhood passion for stories and writing. The Red Umbrella is her first novel.


Christina Diaz Gonzalez lives in Miami, Florida, with her husband and two sons. You can visit her on the Web at

From the Hardcover edition.

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The Red Umbrella 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 46 reviews.
Piri23 More than 1 year ago
From the moment I started reading The Red Umbrella, I could not put it down! Somehow, Christina Diaz Gonzalez manages to weave intense dramatic scenes with bits of humor (at times, you can't help but laugh and cry simultaneously!). You will be captivated by the author's wonderful descriptions of the characters and beautiful way of making you feel like you instantly know and care about them. "Living through" the revolution through the eyes of the young Lucia truly takes you on a journey from the carefree innocence of childhood to the increasingly complicated life of a young woman who has been forced to deal with more adult situations than any teenager should have to go through. So thankful to the author for bringing this very real part of American and Cuban history to life!
mimi24ED More than 1 year ago
The Red Umbrella is a beautiful and touching story. The author, Christina Diaz Gonzalez, did a fantastic job conveying a range of emotions, fear and loneliness all the Pedro Pan children must have felt. She also honors the american families that opened their homes to these children. The Red Umbrella is a wonderful well written book. Great reading for all generations. I highly recommend it to everyone!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book (The Red Umbrella, by Christina Diaz Gonzalez), it shows the struggle of 14,000 children and their families to reach freedom, something that must of us take for granted. I highly recommend it to all of those that care about family and freedom. Congratulations to the author.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Like any fourteen-year-old, Lucía is thrilled to have school cancelled - even if it means that there are soldiers arriving in her small town in Cuba. She makes plans to spend time with her best friend, Ivette, to shop and plan for her quinces, but her mamá insists she must stay inside with her little brother, Frankie. Lucía tries to listen to the hushed whispers of her parents behind closed doors. There's talk of a revolution. People are disappearing from their jobs and families are losing their life savings to support Fidel Castro's new regime. Ivette tries to convince Lucía to join Jovenes Rebeldes, Rebel Youth, the communist youth movement in Cuba. She says Lucía's family is being watched, and it's not until men come to their home and arrest Lucía's papá for being an anti-revolutionary that Lucía realizes just how bad it is. She and Frankie must go to America. Without their mamá and papá. If they are lucky, they will find a nice family to take both of them in. Once in America, Lucía worries about her parents' safety. Phone calls to Cuba are expensive and infrequent. She longs to return to her homeland, but as the months pass, she finds herself turning fifteen in a strange land, fearful that she may never be able to return to her home and her mamá and papá. Ms. Gonzalez has written a gripping story of survival and courage in this book based on the Cuban revolution of 1961. The reader will feel for both Lucía and Frankie, as well as the many other children who were forced to leave the security of home and family for a life of freedom. You will want to read THE RED UMBRELLA more than once. It's a book you won't be able to put down, well deserving of the many awards it has already garnered.
ti-ta More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing book, the author makes you think you are Lucia, you feel you are living in the island, then it is incredible how you feel you are living in Nebraska, even if you have never seen or lived in Nebraska. I'm sure everyone who reads the book will identify themselves with it in one way or another, even if you came to the USA in another way and not in the Pedro Pan Operation, it is a must read for all ages. Great book with historical facts in 272 pages.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Red Umbrella is a wonderful novel by Christina Diaz Gonzalez. It’s about a fourteen year old girl named Lucia; she is like any typical teenager who dreams about boys, make-up, and going to Paris with her best friend, Ivett.  All those dreams are put on hold whens soldiers invade her town Havana and the Cuban Revolution begins.  When the revolution becomes more intense Lucia’s parents made the decision to send her and her seven year old brother, Frankie, to the United States. This of course is a very hard transition. Lucia did not know any English except for the little she learned at school. She would have to take care of her brother and she would also miss her parents terribly.  As Lucia and her little brother Frankie board the plane they see their mother’s red umbrella (hence the name); the one that she says symbolizes hope. They get left in Nebraska with the Baxter’s, who are complete strangers.  Lucia and Frankie have to learn to be optimistic and keep their hopes up…because no one knows if they will see their parents soon or in other words ever again.  This novel is an amazing story filled with hope, challenges, culture, history, and gives a true understanding of home. It is a quick, easy and a must read! The book also teaches about a very important time period…the Cuban Revolution, and how the people suffered during this time. Also the sentences are written very smoothly and the novel flows very nicely, it is an easy book to understand but it has a lot of Spanish parts.  Overall it is an amazing book and it is highly recommended.  
ging101 More than 1 year ago
This book is appropriate for children ... and adults. Informative from a child's prospective about a historical event. I would recommend this book to children and parents.
Tahleen More than 1 year ago
Lucia Alvarez is your typical teenage girl. She loves fashion, is excited to start wearing makeup, dreams over her crush. But she is not a modern teen in America-she lives in Cuba in 1961, the beginning of Castro's revolution. She notices things in her safe community of Puerto Mijares start to change: people are disappearing, losing jobs, and joining brigades supporting the revolution. Even her best friend starts to support it and forget about the things that once meant something to her. At first Lucia thinks this is all for the best, a good thing. The revolution will make life better and more equal for everyone, or so she is told. But when she begins to see trusted members of her community being taken away and her own home life is drastically changed, she's not so sure. Finally her parents make an incredibly difficult decision: to send her and her little brother, Frankie, to the United States. Alone. Christina Diaz Gonzalez tells the story of a young teen who goes through complete upheaval, taken away from everything she knows, including her language and family, and is plopped down in a completely foreign environment. What makes this story so incredible is that it's not an isolated incident. In an author's note, Gonzalez tells us about what later became known as Operation Pedro Pan, the largest exodus of unaccompanied children into the United States ever. The story is one of heartache and change, of coming of age in a land not your own and being forced to grow up a little sooner than expected. Lucia witnesses horrific things in the place she's lived her whole life, and not too long after finds out she is leaving her homeland the day before her plane is due to leave-everything happens so quickly that she has trouble processing it all. I loved all of the adults in the book, too. Her parents are parents-they worry about their children and wants what's best for them. Lucia's mother nags her to do what's right, even on a long-distance phone call from Cuba (don't act like those American teenagers in the movies!). Her father always tries to make the best of things and bring humor into their lives when others might see none. And their foster parents are fantastic, too. Mrs. Baxter is a motormouth and a very motherly woman, who isn't quite sure about Cuban culture, mixing it up with Mexican on one occasion, but who will do her very best to help the Alvarez children and love them like her own. Mr. Baxter is much more quiet and sparing with his affection; Lucia doesn't believe he even likes the two of them, despite Mrs. Baxter's affirmation of the contrary. Eventually we see his hard exterior break down bit by bit. I cared about all of them, and for me that is one of the most crucial things in reading a book. The only thing I would say is that it might help to know a bit about the history of all this before beginning the story. The author's note is essential for those who know nothing, and I might even suggest reading it before the rest of the book. I was lucky enough to know about it beforehand and I think it aided in my reading of the book. That said, each chapter begins with a real headline from a newspaper in the United States about the Cuban revolution and Castro's rise to power, providing valuable background and insight for the reader. The headlines progress along with the story chronologically. A fantastic introduction for a little-addressed yet important part of American and Cuban history.
ma-drin More than 1 year ago
The Red Umbrella is a great book, anyone can identify themselves with Lucia, the author has a fantastic way of making you visualize where the story takes place and makes you think you are physically there. Old and young will like this book.
bookwormygirl on LibraryThing 26 days ago
This is the story of Lucía - she's 14 years old when her seaside town begins to feel the changes that a young man named Fidel Castro with a vision of a revolution have on her country. When the revolution first started, life didn't change much for Lucía - she still read the gossip magazines with her BFF Ivette - whiling their days away worrying about nail polish colors and whether a cute boy was interested in them or not - or she'd spend her afternoons lazing around the beach with her younger brother Frankie. But she starts noticing changes - for one her parents are acting tense, having private heated discussions, soon a neighbor then her father's co-worker goes missing and most of her young friends begin joining revolutionary groups. Before things get completely out of control her parents decide that she and Frankie must leave their country and live with a foster family in the U.S.Imagine leaving everything and everyone you've known your whole life and coming to a strange country where you not only can't speak the language but have to rely on strangers to take you in, feed you, clothe you, support you. This is Lucía's story.This story really touched my heart. My mother was Lucía's same age when she left Cuba - thanks to my grandparents' quick thinking - they decided not to wait it out to see what would happen to their precious Cuba after Castro's revolution and instead got on the first plane that would get them out of there. They were the only one's in their family to do that - meaning they left parents, siblings, cousins, etc. behind. And for many years after that they were not able to visit, communications were difficult (telephone calls were monitored or timed to a few short minutes) and mailing a letter was a joke (75% of the time it just didn't get there). So, in a way, Lucía's story is one that I definitely relate to. Ms. Diaz Gonzalez's writing was so vivid you could almost see the vibrant colors, smell the food and tropical breeze. As happy as you feel because of her vivid descriptions of Cuban life, you also get a chill when you realize how dire Lucía and her family's situation really is. You can't trust anyone - not your friends, nor neighbors, not even family members. Her parents are left with no recourse but to send her and Frankie away. I loved how each chapter started with a snippet from U.S. newspapers and their take on Cuba, Castro and the revolution. It really gave you a true sense of what was going on when you read the newspaper clipping and then delved into Lucía's current situation. Ms. Gonzalez-Diaz based this story on the experiences of her parents and other Cuban children who came to the U.S. in the program known as Operation Pedro Pan. This tale is one that still affects the lives of Cubans and Cuban exiles today. Living in Miami, you still hear the stories and there are still many who have not been able to reunite with the families they left behind (my family included). This is a tribute to the courage these children showed and to those parents that were able to let go of them in a time of great uncertainty and upheaval. I think this is a part of Cuban American history that is not covered enough - especially not in YA. A very good read for young and old alike. I can't recommend this enough.
twonickels on LibraryThing 26 days ago
I was excited about this one, especially after really enjoying The Firefly Letters, but it never grabbed me ¿ this was particularly true of the later parts of the story that take place in Nebraska. I liked Lucia¿s growth arc, but I didn¿t quite believe it. Great story that didn¿t have the depth I wanted from it.
resugo on LibraryThing 26 days ago
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed reading this book. The writing was great, Lucia's voice rang true to her age. I could really see her growing up as she and her brother had to be brave on their own in a strange new country. Great historical fiction.
Soniamarie on LibraryThing 26 days ago
This was great!!! It was a wonderful look at the early days of Castro's revolution and Cuban and American relations in 1961. The story is told from a 14 year old girl's point of view, Lucia.Lucia has normal 14 year old growing pains. She likes boys, wants to wear make up, is irritated by her younger brother, Frankie, but instead of having a normal teenager's life, Cuba, her country and home, goes into turmoil. When Castro and his revolutionary followers take over the government, not only is there soldiers everywhere, but also people being branded as traitors to the revolution. Unfortuneately, because her parents believe it's ok to have a different opinion from Castro, Lucia's family is branded as traitors. To save her, Lucia's parents send both her and her brother to the United States. Lucia and Frankie go to live with a foster family in Nebraska until her parents can join them or the revolution ends. Lucia must learn a new language, eat new foods, and make new friends. She adjusts rather well, but all the time she worries about her mother and father back in Cuba and wonders if she will ever see them again because the revolution doesn't seem to be ending and American/Cuban relations are getting very tense...The first half of the book takes place in Cuba and offers an amazing look into life in Cuba during Castro's early days and the fear or fanaticism some people felt. The second half of the book is about Lucia adjusting to American life and presents an idea of what it was like to be a Latina immigrant in 1961. Superb. The ending brought tears to my eyes. I really connected to Lucia. This is a book I will read again.
abbylibrarian on LibraryThing 26 days ago
It's 1961 and Fidel Castro has taken over Cuba. At first the Revolution is fun - Lucia and her younger brother Frankie get a vacation from school because the private schools have been closed. Lucia's planning on shopping and hanging out with her best friend Ivette. But her parents won't let her go out. And they won't let her join the youth movement of the revolution like many of Lucia's friends. And soon Lucia starts to see the darker side of the revolution. When the danger becomes too great, Lucia's parents send her and Frankie by themselves to America, just like thousands of other Cuban children who are part of what eventually becomes known as Operation Pedro Pan. All by themselves in a strange country where they barely speak the language... Everything's changing for Lucia and Frankie... will life ever go back to normal? Will they ever see Cuba - or their parents - again? Lush descriptions of Cuba and Lucia's life there made me feel like i was right there beside her. Even though Lucia and Frankie don't leave Cuba until halfway through the book, I never felt like the plot was moving too slowly. This is a great look into an event that many children won't be familiar with and it's a fantastic debut. Highly recommended.
stephxsu on LibraryThing 26 days ago
14-year-old Lucia Alvarez¿s life is turned upside down when Fidel Castro takes power in Cuba in 1960. Suddenly her best friend is a propaganda-spewing stranger, soldiers brutally kill her father¿s business acquaintances, and her parents are being closely watched. Lucia just wants to be an average teenage girl, hanging out with her friends, keeping up with the latest American fashions, and maybe even getting closer to her crush, but that can no longer be.Then Lucia and her younger brother, Frankie, receive visas to go live with a temporary foster family in Nebraska. The culture shock is great and frightening; can Lucia manage a new language and culture, growing into a young lady in the meantime, when the fate of her parents and her beloved Cuba are so uncertain?I have never read a novel like Christina Gonzalez¿s debut, THE RED UMBRELLA. This is a necessary story about an aspect of Cuban American history that has not received enough attention in YA literature¿and best of all, it¿s extremely well written and engaging!Gonzalez writes convincingly of all her characters. Lucia is partly your average teenager, desiring friendship, love, acceptance, and pretty things. Her parents are a believable blend of loving, strict, and worried, and Frankie is a cute and appropriately occasionally annoying younger brother. The way the story follows Lucia through this difficult time in her life, however, is a miraculous achievement: my heart ached as I read about the difficulties she faced, and I saw a distinct, yet subtle, growth in her as she realizes the extent to which Castro¿s takeover would affect her life. The pacing and plot were a little uneven, though, and thus not as fulfilling as it could¿ve been. The first two-thirds of the book takes place within a few fast and furious months in Cuba, as the revolution starts taking over Cubans¿ lives. This part of the book is great, as we see Lucia and her family struggling to remain true to themselves in the face of so much propaganda and pressure. However, when Lucia and Frankie spend time with the elderly white couple in Nebraska while they await news of their parents, time sees to stop and go in choppy bits, covering more than half a year in just a few dozen pages. As a result, I felt that Lucia¿s adjustment to American life and subsequent maturation were rushed, and that the characters in this section of the book were underdeveloped.Pacing aside, this was a fantastic read, great for everyone. The Alvarezes are a family to cheer for throughout the whole story. Never before have I seen this aspect of Cuban American history discussed in such an approachable and sympathetic manner. I am thankful for this book, hope others will strongly consider reading it when it comes out, and definitely look forward to anything Christina has next for us!
countrylife on LibraryThing 26 days ago
Lucia Alvarez finds her life altered in 1961. First crushes, swimming at the nearby beach, freedom to come and go to her friend's homes ¿ Lucia doesn't understand why her life has to change. People are watched, arrested, detained, missing. Soldiers patrol the streets. So many frightening events. Mr. and Mrs. Alvarez are worried about their two children, Lucia, fourteen and a half, and Frankie, seven-years-old. Fearing the indoctrination (or worse) that may soon befall their children, they make the heart-wrenching decision to send them ¿ alone ¿ to the United States, while they still can. Arriving in Miami, they spend some time at a Catholic charity camp for these displaced children. Each child is placed with foster parents through the Catholic network, and relocated among 30 states. Lucia and Frankie find out that they will be living in Nebraska with Mr. and Mrs. Baxter. They like their foster parents, but were disappointed to find that Grand Island was nothing like their own island. They miss their parents, and their old life, but gradually become acclimated to their new situation. It wasn't the life we used to have, but that life didn't exist in Cuba, either.Ms. Gonzalez has written a moving story about one family affected by Castro's regime and their choice of Operation Pedro Pan to save their children.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This bok is sooooooo good and I like it becauseit is so like interresting
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a retired S.S. teacher and avid history buff I would highly recommend The Red Umbrella to   anyone whether they are interested in history or not. Personally knowing several individuals who   lived in Castro's Cuba during the 60s and 70s The Red Umbrella was accurate according to their   recollections. Easy read as well. I would definitely rate it a 5.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The one thing i dont like about it is that you keep having to go to the of the book
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I red this book in 4th gradeand loved it was not hard to understand at allso i totaly recomned it to anyone
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is sooooooooooo good. Got it from the book fair and can not put it down! The summary does not sound so good but the book is excellent!!!