Engle is a gifted writer and her use of imagery is particularly affecting. I could feel the steamy heat of the jungle and smell the ajiaco stew. Each word is carefully selected and holds the reader in its grasp:
"...My greatest fear is of being useless,
so I pierce and drain infected wounds
with the thorns of bitter orange trees,
and I treat the sores of smallbox
with the juice of boiled yams.
I use the perfumed leaves
of bay rum trees
to mask the scent
Rosa is a heroine worth studying. Engle portrays her as brave, tireless, principled, and wise. She takes her role as a nurse seriously and will treat enemy soldiers with the same care that she treats the Cubans, often causing them to convert to her cause. I hope that Cuban-American girls are learning about this powerful cultural figure because she is the strongest role model I have come across in awhile.
Towards the end of the book, a young girl named Silvia is introduced and the interplay between Rosa and Lieutenant Death wanes. I wish that their narration could have continued, although I appreciate that Silvia represents the future, a character who will carry on Rosa's ideals.
I can't recommend this book highly enough. Please add it to your libraries and place it in as many hands as you can.
Rosa La Bayamesa is an incredible historical figure.