Review: The Bluest Sky

Tender, Hopeful, Devastating… Thank you to TBR & Beyond Tours for this review copy!
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Middle Grade Fiction at its Best!

A boy and his family must decide whether to remain in Cuba under a repressive government or risk everything for the chance of a new beginning in this gripping story from the award-winning author of The Red Umbrella.

There are two versions of Héctor: the public and the private. It’s the only way to survive in communist Cuba—especially when your father was exiled to the U.S. and labeled an enemy of the people. Héctor must always be seen as a fierce supporter of the regime, even if that means loudly rejecting the father he still loves.

But in the summer of 1980, those two versions are hard to keep separate. No longer able to suppress a public uprising, the Cuban government says it will open the port of Mariel to all who wish to leave the country—if they can find a boat. But choosing to leave comes with a price. Those who want to flee are denounced as traitors by family and friends. There are violent acts of repudiation, and no one knows if they will truly be allowed to leave the country or not.

So when Héctor’s mother announces that she wants the family to risk everything to go to the United States, he is torn. He misses his father, but Cuba is the only home he has ever known. All his dreams and plans require him to stay. Can he leave everything behind for an unknown future?

In a summer of heat and upheaval, danger and deadly consequences, Héctor’s two worlds are on a collision course. Will the impact destroy him and everything he loves?

Christina Diaz Gonzalez’s great-grandmother, great-uncle, and extended family came to the U.S. through the Mariel boatlift. She vividly remembers meeting them all for the first time in the summer of 1980 and is proud to share this part of her family’s history.

My Review:

There is something about Middle Grade fiction that just gets to my heart. It’s tender and emotional and raw in a way that YA tends to be angsty and Adult fiction tends to be jaded. There is an earnestness to Middle Grade fiction and a longing for the world to make sense that I remember so well still from those years. The Bluest Sky is all those things and more. It’s hopeful and optimistic in a time when neither is really a thing to be. Héctor is the perfect MG hero – longing for a place in the world, wanting to fit in, scared of the future, but also unsure of the past.

Héctor is an outsider in a country full of them. Branded a traitor to the communist regime, his father is in America, and his mother wants the whole family to join them there. But Héctor loves his Cuba, his friends, and his chances of folloiwng his dreams. Until the world comes crashing down around him, that is.

At times dark and scary, The Bluest Sky is about the bonds of family, the power of friendship, and finding yourself in the middle or a changing world.

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Christina Diaz Gonzalez is the Edgar® award-winning author of several books including The Red UmbrellaA Thunderous WhisperMoving TargetConcealed, and two upcoming books, Invisible (a graphic novel available in August 2022) and The Bluest Sky (a historical fiction novel available in September 2022). Her books have received numerous honors including the Florida Book Award, the Nebraska Book Award, and the International Latino Book Award. Her work has also been designated as an American Library Association’s Best Fiction for Young Adults selection, a Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, a Junior Library Guild Gold Selection, and as an International Reading Association’s Teachers’ Choice book. Christina currently lives in Miami, Florida with her husband, sons, and a dog that can open doors.