The Bluest Sky

Knopf. Sept. 2022. 320p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593372791.
Gr 5-8–It’s 1980, and speaking out against Fidel Castro’s Communist regime sent Héctor’s father to prison and then to the United States, leaving Héctor, his brother Rodrigo, and his mom under a shadow of suspicion. Héctor’s mother is planning on leaving Cuba and is ready to put her plan into action, but Héctor is having trouble accepting that he has to abandon his home, friends, and school. His grandmother has always used her ties to the government to provide perks to their family. While Héctor knows that she disagrees with them leaving, he doesn’t fully grasp what his grandmother is willing to do to prevent them from doing so. As Héctor enjoys what might be his last weeks with best friends, something happens that finally makes him comprehend what’s at stake and the importance of family. Héctor, Rodrigo, and their mom face incredible and life-changing challenges as they make decisions that impact their survival. This poignant novel immerses readers into the era and presents a unique and much-needed viewpoint. Diaz Gonzalez’s writing is impeccable, and themes of grief, loss, and heartbreak are made palpable through her storytelling. This moving historical novel provides a window into a moment not often represented in children’s books.
VERDICT A heartrending exploration of friendship, family, and freedom set against volatile times. Highly recommended for middle grade shelves.

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