Book Review: The Lightning Dreamer~Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist

We had another great book group meeting on Monday night! We so appreciate all of you who come out and spend the evening talking about literature with us! Like all of Engle’s other books, this one got nothing but positive reviews from our readers.  With National Poetry Month right around the corner, it’s the perfect book to consider bringing into your classroom for April.

The Lightning DreamerThe Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist
Written by Margarita Engle
Published by Harcourt Children’s Books, 2013
ISBN: 978-0547807430
Age Level: 12 and up


“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.

My thoughts:

I have never been disappointed by one of Margarita Engle’s books and The Lightning Dreamer is no exception.  It’s the fascinating true story of a Cuban woman who worked both for the abolition of slavery and equal rights for women.  My guess is that many of you have never heard of Gertrudis Gómez de Avellanda, I certainly hadn’t.  Engle’s ability to bring to life these lesser known but incredibly important historical characters is part of what makes her work so significant.  Her novels in verse make historical characters like Tula accessible and real to younger readers.  Continue reading