I stumbled on the book 90 Miles to Havana by Enrique Flores-Galbis by accident and am so very glad I did. It is one of my favorite books that the kids and I have read this year. The book is phenomenal in so many ways. If you live in south Florida the Cuban influence is everywhere. While most have heard that Fidel Castro is a bad, evil, cruel man, children and adults frequently don’t completely understand what exactly happened and why Cuban Americans feel such hatred towards Castro.
My mother in law came to the United States by herself at the age of thirteen in conjunction with the “Pedro Pan” program. As a parent I can not even begin to fathom the gravity of having to make such a decision for my children. While my husband and I have done our best to educate our two children about Cuba and their grandmother “Abuelita”‘s experience, and tell them of family we still have in Cuba, something was still missing. They needed a kid’s perspective that they could relate to and identify with. 90 Miles to Havana really gave them a new perspective and empathy to the Cuban American experience. They now understand why families so bravely sent their children to complete strangers for a better life. They now understand the trials and tribulations these families had once they arrived in the states and how incredibly difficult mentally and sometimes physically this was.
The story is narrated by the character Julian. The reader experiences Julian’s family’s everyday life in pre-revolution Cuba. It takes the reader through the revolution, neighbors becoming the “eyes and ears” of the new government, and the difficult decision of sending him to the United States. Once Julian arrives, the streets are hardly paved in gold. He describes being kept in a camp until he is placed in a more permanent situation and the fear of being separated from his older brothers. The book is an entertaining, quick read and worth your time. If you have a kindle, this book is offered on whispersync and can be listened to as an audio.