Beginning on the eve of Fidel Castro's takeover of Havana in 1959, this graphic novel chronicles episodes in the life of Sonya, a 17-year-old Cuban native. Filled with idealistic dreams, she gives up painting to become a doctor to support the needs of the revolution. After being mistaken for a CIA agent and brutally tortured, Sonya attempts painting once again, only to find censorship and criticism. Working from a true story, Lockpez, a Cuban native and artist herself, crafts realistic characters and complex relationships that drive the story beyond cliché. The people's perspective, as represented by Sonya, is distinctive to the literature, as other graphic novels, such as Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon's Che: A Graphic Biography, focus more on the revolution's leaders. Haspiel's (The Quitter) highly emotive, black-and-white illustrations with red spot color perfectly suit Lockpez's text.
Verdict Readers with little knowledge of Cuban history will find this graphic novel to be both informative and suspenseful. Recommended for adult readers and older high school students owing to the violence, torture, and nudity.—Joanna Schmidt, George Fox Univ., Newberg, OR