From Publishers Weekly
This dramatic account of the experiences of a young woman named Sonya during the Cuban revolution is based on the experiences of Lockpez. The narrative traces Sonya as she transforms from an idealist revolutionary studying to be a surgeon to a dissident artist who realizes she must flee her beloved but troubled country. Along the way, she witnesses carnage, is imprisoned and tortured, and is separated from her family. In the midst of the chaos, she also finds love. Haspiel, who has known Lockpez for over 20 years, provides striking illustrations that chart Sonya's shifting emotions and alliances; particularly strong are the surrealist depictions of her dreams and her ordeal in prison. Painter José Villarubia adds tones and shades of red that further intensify the story. At times Lockpez relies too heavily on clunky exposition explaining the history of Cuba and Castro, although some readers may find the context helpful. It is impossible to deny the power of Lockpez's dramatic coming-of-age story, which make the human cost of the revolution all too clear. (Sept.) (c)
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From School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up–This memoir is an excellent example of the graphic novel's ability to make pain visible. Opening panels dated December 31, 1958, introduce Sonya, fashionably dressed in vibrant red, looking forward to a new year with Fidel Castro's overthrow of the Batista regime and a new hope for Cuba. "I feel a new beginning has come for my country. Finally the justice and equality we have yearned for is about to happen." Sonya gets caught up with the fervor of this movement and renounces her plans to study art. Instead she joins the military and commences medical studies in her zeal to bring positive change to her beloved country. However, life in Cuba becomes progressively worse. This is signaled visually by the change to a black-and-white palette. She is imprisoned and tortured by her own country. Her mother, stepfather, and infant sister are finally able to leave, but Sonya stubbornly refuses to go, clinging to her dreams and ideals. The final panel reveals her tear-stained face, etched with the years of pain and horror as she finally leaves Cuba. "I don't know right from wrong anymore. What happened to the principles we believed in five years ago? I'm always afraid, all the time. All the time." The pain is both visually and verbally palpable. Due to graphic depictions of violence and nudity this searing account is most appropriate for mature readers.Barbara M. Moon, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY
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