My Brigadista Year

My Brigadista Year

 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
584   0
Write Review
My Brigadista Year
Age Range
10+
Release Date
October 16, 2017
ISBN
978-0763695088
Buy This Book
      
In an engrossing historical novel, the Newbery Medal-winning author of Bridge to Terabithia follows a young Cuban teenager as she volunteers for Fidel Castro’s national literacy campaign and travels into the impoverished countryside to teach others how to read.

When thirteen-year-old Lora tells her parents that she wants to join Premier Castro’s army of young literacy teachers, her mother screeches to high heaven, and her father roars like a lion. Nora has barely been outside of Havana — why would she throw away her life in a remote shack with no electricity, sleeping on a hammock in somebody’s kitchen? But Nora is stubborn: didn’t her parents teach her to share what she has with someone in need? Surprisingly, Nora’s abuela takes her side, even as she makes Nora promise to come home if things get too hard. But how will Nora know for sure when that time has come? Shining light on a little-known moment in history, Katherine Paterson traces a young teen’s coming-of-age journey from a sheltered life to a singular mission: teaching fellow Cubans of all ages to read and write, while helping with the work of their daily lives and sharing the dangers posed by counterrevolutionaries hiding in the hills nearby. Inspired by true accounts, the novel includes an author’s note and a timeline of Cuban history.

Editor reviews

1 reviews

Overall rating 
 
3.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
3.0  (1)
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A  (0)
Overall rating 
 
3.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
3.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A

One side to Castro's Cuba

Lora's family is poor, but has a decent life in Havana in the late 1950s. Lora wants desperately to go to a better school, but her parents don't have money to send her. Her abuela, who is very forward thinking, offers Lora jewelry that she was saving for her and says she may sell it and use the money for school. Lora does. When she is 13, Lora decides to join the Literacy Brigadistas, which was an idea of Fidel Castro's to raise the literacy rate and help the poorer, less educated people understand concepts in his new government. The Brigadistas, who were often very young and female, were given brief training on how to teach reading and then sent out into remote areas of the country to live and work with families while teaching them to read. They were given hammocks, since the families wouldn't have extra beds, lanterns so that people could learn after their day of working on the farm, and instruction in basic agricultural practice so that they could help on the farms. Lora ends up living with Luis and Veronica, who have three small children, and is also in charge of educating the nearby family. While the women were pleased to learn to read, the men often did not want to learn from young girls. Lora enjoys being with the family and learning of their hardships, but the atmosphere in Cuba is very tense, and the brigadistas are fearful that the resistance will attack them. After making sure that her students all pass their exams, Lora returns to her family, and the experience has a profound effect on her life.

Good Points
I've had several students with Cuban backgrounds who are very interested in reading stories like The Red Umbrella or 90 Miles to Havana. I had never heard of this reading initiative, and found it interesting that even with a higher literacy rate than other countries, Cuba thought that this was important enough to pursue, and that the country's literacy rate went up from 60% to 96%. The book concentrated more on the positives of teaching people to read, and Lora learned things from the family about the way other people lived their lives as well. There are extensive notes in the back of the book about the research, as well as a helpful time line.

Some Cubans might not agree with this portrayal of Cuba at this time. Paterson covered all of her bases when it comes to researching the basic story, and Lora isn't at all condescending to her students. This is selectively representative of the climate at the time, and focuses on the positives of Castro's early days, glossing over the bad things that occurred.

I wish the cover incorporated some of the period photographs of brigadistas, so it would be very clear that this was a historical novel. There are some resources online, and I can see this book being a great starting point to an exploration of Cuban history. Even if this were an #ownvoices book, I can see there being a lot of different opinions about this reading program, no matter how positive it is in concept. Young readers need to understand that stories are often complex.
Was this review helpful to you? 

User reviews

There are no user reviews for this listing.
Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

Don't Date Rosa Santos
Rosa Santos is cursed by the sea-at least, that's what...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
I Got Next
It’s game day! In this action-packed picture book from Daria...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
A Friend for Bently
Like all pigs, Bently loves to play in the mud,...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Great Pumpkin Contest
Mimi and Clara are neighbors. Both cats want to win...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Save Your Friends!
This laugh-out-loud adventure encourages family sharing and is a perfect...
 
3.5
 
0.0 (0)
Dibs!
Teaching your little brother his first word —dibs —is funny....
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Where Are You From?
This resonant picture book tells the story of one girl...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Out of Place
When twelve-year-old Cove Bernstein becomes the target of a school-wide...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Salvation Day
A lethal virus is awoken on an abandoned spaceship in...
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
The Startup Squad (The Startup Squad, #1)
Girls mean business in a brand-new middle grade series about...
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
A Possibility of Whales
Twelve-year-old Natalia Rose Baleine Gallagher has to move, again. ...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Peppa in Space (Peppa Pig)
Get ready for a Peppa Pig story that's out of...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Stars We Steal
Engagement season is in the air. Eighteen-year-old Princess Leonie “Leo”...
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
Pete the Cat and the Itsy Bitsy Spirder
Pete the Cat’s cool adaptation of the classic children’s song...
 
3.5
 
0.0 (0)
Superlative Birds
Explore the fascinating world of superlative birds―from the bee hummingbird,...
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
In Another Life
Chloe was three years old when she became Chloe Holden,...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)

Latest Member Reviews

The Crystal of Gaea. Aki and the Spheres of Time #5
 
5.0
"Aki and Lilith are off on another exciting adventure, this time to the world of Ancient Greek mythology. This..."
The Crystal of Gaea. Aki and the Spheres of Time #5
 
5.0
"Another amazing adventure of Aki on the Parallel Crystal"
La Petite Josette en Provence: Going to Les Baux-de-Provence (Voyage aux Baux-de-Provence)
 
4.2
"'La Petite Josette En Provence' by Ashley Davidson-Fisher, illustrated by Martinique Louise Fisher, who so happens to be the author's..."
 
4.4
"The Lifters Dave Eggers, Alfred A. Knopf, 2018 Is magic enough to fix the morass of Middle America? Are..."
Ranch Hero
 
4.8
"This story deals with loss, which is usually a very sensitive and difficult subject, in an uplifting and entertaining way..."
The Black and White Ball
 
5.0
"This is a delightful story about a very vain peacock who sets about ensuring he is the most beautiful creature..."
 
5.0
"Good book for middle school kids- a true snapshot of the struggle to fit in the middle school social scene..."
The Crystal of Rea Silvia. Aki and the Spheres of Time #4
 
5.0
"The book was just simply great! Surprises, twists and stuffs! Well I just loved Aki and his amazing adventures!..."
The Crystal of Rea Silvia. Aki and the Spheres of Time #4
 
5.0
"This exciting fourth adventure begins with Aki learning about a startling family secret and having to choose between telling the..."
Alicia and the Light Bulb People in Star Factory 13
 
4.5
"'Alicia and the Light Bulb People in Star Factory 13' by Barbara Roman, illustrated by Vladimir Cebu, is a sweet..."
Sal the Seagull Stole My Lunch
 
4.2
"This one is a lot of fun. Joe and Mary are getting ready to have a picnic at..."
 
4.8
"As a mother and tutor for young children, I highly recommend this novel to add to your children's book shelves...."
The Year Santa Stubbed His Toe
 
4.0
"Santa has always been there to deliver gifts to the good boys and girls around the world, but this year,..."
Alicia and the Light Bulb People in Star Factory 13
 
N/A
"Have you ever noticed how people are like light bulbs? They come in many sizes and shapes, varying in their..."
Felipe Femur
 
5.0
"While this book in occupied by a cast of monsters, it is far from scary. It is also not solely..."
The Crystal Of Atum. Aki and the Spheres of Time #3
 
5.0
"I am so pleased by The Crystal of Atum. I love Aki and the Spheres of Time series. This book..."
The Crystal Of Atum. Aki and the Spheres of Time #3
 
4.8
"This is Aki’s third trip with the Sphere of Time. As usual, he ends up nowhere near the spot where..."
City of Grit and Gold
 
4.3
"'City of Grit and Gold' by Maud Macrory Powell offers a glimpse into the lives of those who came from..."
Good Boy, Achilles!
 
5.0
"Very nice book."
The Pathway to Dragons: The Portal to Pyranis
 
3.5
"'The Pathway to Dragons: The Portal to Pyranis' by Hannah Hoffman is more than your run-of-the-mill fantasy story. When Billy..."