Your Heart My Sky

Your Heart My Sky
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Release Date
March 23, 2021
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A story of love in a time of hunger inspired by her own family’s struggles during a dark period in Cuba’s history.

The people of Cuba are living in el periodo especial en tiempos de paz—the special period in times of peace. That’s what the government insists that this era must be called, but the reality behind these words is starvation.

Liana is struggling to find enough to eat. Yet hunger has also made her brave: she finds the courage to skip a summer of so-called volunteer farm labor, even though she risks government retribution. Nearby, a quiet, handsome boy named Amado also refuses to comply, so he wanders alone, trying to discover rare sources of food.

A chance encounter with an enigmatic dog brings Liana and Amado together. United in hope and hunger, they soon discover that their feelings for each other run deep. Love can feed their souls and hearts—but is it enough to withstand el periodo especial?

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1 review
Cuba 1991
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YOUR HEART MY SKY by Margarita Engle is a lyrical, multi-pov story set in Cuba in 1991. At this time, Cuba was in a “special period in times of peace,” and hunger reigned. There wasn’t enough food to go around for the citizens, but somehow there was enough for foreigners, who came in for special sporting events. To escape dying of malnutrition or being forced into the military, a number of Cubans flung themselves into the Atlantic to endure a perilous journey across the waves with hopes of landing on Florida’s shores. Liana and Amado, the story’s protagonists, are young teenagers caught in the midst of this situation, trying to decide what’s the best choice for their future. Both refuse to bow down to their government’s will and instead stage their own mini-rebellion with how they choose to live their lives. The worry, however, is if they’ll get caught and sent to jail like Amado’s brother, and what they would do if they were to be parted.

The themes and historical events tackled in this novel are very tough to read as they feel topical in present day. Though the story is a reminder of the past, it feels like a grim prediction of the future, and because of that, may not be for everyone right now. That being said, it’s a really important read as we consider how topics like class, governmental oppression, and generational know-how can affect survival and quality of life. It also reminds us of the importance of togetherness and holding on to what we believe in. Reading this book feels vital to the times.

The story is written in verse and told from the perspectives of Liana, Amado, and the Singing Dog, who brought them together. I don’t normally enjoy animal characters, but it works really well here and adds to the mystical and magical quality of the words. Liana and Amado do feel much older than their actual ages, but at the same time, they’ve been through and seen a lot, so from that side, it makes sense. I personally like verse novels to be a bit more poetic, but at the same time, like everything in the characters’ lives, the words are sparse.

Overall, YOUR HEART MY SKY is a story that will sit with you after burrowing deep in your cells. It’s one that will make you want to rage against injustice and cling to those you love and find joy and hope in what you can. If you have the emotional space for this read right now, consider adding it to your TBR.
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