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

BOOK SUMMARY:

“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

Our Next Good Read. . .The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist

Join us March 3rd at Bookworks from 5:00-7:00 pm to discuss our next book.  We are lightning-dreamerreading The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist (ages 12 and up) by Margarita Engle

Here’s a sneak peek into the book: (from Goodreads)

“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.
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Book Giveaway!! The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist

MargaritaWe’re giving away a copy of The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionistwritten by Margarita Engle–our featured novel for March’s book group meeting!! Check out the following from Kirkus Review:

“An inspiring fictionalized verse biography of one of Cuba’s most influential writers. . .

 Newbery Honor–winning Engle (The Surrender Tree, 2008) here imagines the youth of Cuban-born Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda (1814-73), a major 19th-century writer who was an abolitionist and feminist opposed to all forms of slavery, including arranged marriage. From Sab, her subject’s 1841 abolitionist novel, Engle loosely deduces her artistic development, not only including the two arranged marriages she refused in real life, but the budding writer’s struggles at home. There, “Tula” was subjected to the discriminatory views of her mother and grandfather, who sought to educate her only in the domestic arts since, according to Mamá, “Everyone knows that girls / who read and write too much / are unattractive.” Denied the education her brother received, Tula laments, “I’m just a girl who is expected / to live / without thoughts.” Engle’s clear, declarative verse animates the impassioned voice of Tula as well as other major figures in her life—her sympathetic brother, Manuel, the orphans she comes to love and entertain with grand plays meshing themes of autonomy and racial equality, and her family’s housekeeper, Caridad, a former slave who is eventually inspired by Tula’s wild tales of true emancipation to leave her confining situation.

 Fiery and engaging, a powerful portrait of the liberating power of art.”
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