November 23rd, 2010

2010

School Library Journal reviews CUBA: MY REVOLUTION

Gr 10 Up–This memoir is an excellent example of the graphic novel's ability to make pain visible. Opening panels dated December 31, 1958, introduce Sonya, fashionably dressed in vibrant red, looking forward to a new year with Fidel Castro's overthrow of the Batista regime and a new hope for Cuba. "I feel a new beginning has come for my country. Finally the justice and equality we have yearned for is about to happen." Sonya gets caught up with the fervor of this movement and renounces her plans to study art. Instead she joins the military and commences medical studies in her zeal to bring positive change to her beloved country. However, life in Cuba becomes progressively worse. This is signaled visually by the change to a black-and-white palette. She is imprisoned and tortured by her own country. Her mother, stepfather, and infant sister are finally able to leave, but Sonya stubbornly refuses to go, clinging to her dreams and ideals. The final panel reveals her tear-stained face, etched with the years of pain and horror as she finally leaves Cuba. "I don't know right from wrong anymore. What happened to the principles we believed in five years ago? I'm always afraid, all the time. All the time." The pain is both visually and verbally palpable. Due to graphic depictions of violence and nudity this searing account is most appropriate for mature readers.
Barbara M. Moon, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY
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2010

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