THE FIREFLY LETTERS: A SUFFRAGETTE'S JOURNEY TO CUBA -- a powerful novel in verse about an early women’s rights pioneer and the journey to Cuba that transformed her life
The Firefly Letters: A Suffragette's Journey to Cuba by Margarita Engle (2017, Square Fish; 176 pages)
“Your Majesty ... I can from Cuba, better than you from any other point on this side of the globe, speak of the New World, because Cuba lies between North and South America ... Heaven and earth, the people, language, laws, manners, style of building, every thing is new...”-- Frederika Bremer, in a letter to Carolina Amelia, Queen Dowager of Denmark, April, 1851 Matanzas, Cuba
“I remember a wide river
and gray parrots with patches of red feathers
flashing across the African sky
like traveling stars
or Cuban fireflies.
In the silence of night
I still hear my mother wailing,
and I see my father's eyes
refusing to meet mine.
I was eight, plenty old enough
to understand that my father was haggling
with a wandering slave trader,
agreeing to exchange me
for a stolen cow.
Spanish sea captains and Arab merchants
are not the only men
who think of girls
This is the beginning of one of the most beautiful juvenile books I've read, a book written by Newbery Honor-Winning Author Margarita Engle, and a book with a fantastic title: The firefly Letters, a Suffragette's Journey to Cuba. Margarita Engle is a Cuban-American poet, novelist and journalist whose work has been published in many countries.
When Fredrika Bremer asked the Swedish Consulate to find her a quiet home in the Cuban countryside, she expected a rustic one, instead of the luxurious mansion in Matanzas, where Elena, the daughter of the house, can barely step foot outside. The freedom to roam is something that woman and girls in Cuba didn't have. Fredrika is accompanied by Cecilia, a young slave who longs for her lost home in Africa. Elena, Fredrika and Cecilia will become friends and they will explore the lush countryside, forming a bond that breaks the barriers of language and culture.
This extraordinary book brings the reader a portrait of early women's rights pioneer, Swedish writer Fredrika Bremer, and the journey to Cuba that transformed her life. As the author writes at the end of the book, nearly all the events described in the book are documented in Fredrika's letters and diaries, but the character of Elena is a fictional one. Cecilia's husband was mentioned but not named in Bremer's letters. She wrote that Cecilia was eight years old when she was taken to Cuba from Africa, and that she said she still missed her mother.
The book is written in verse form, and each chapter is the voice of one of the three women characters. Margarita Engle's imagination and research brings us a mix of fiction and non-fiction that delivers a jewel that readers will love.
Recommended to all, especially those who cherish curiosity and love history, strong women, and traveling to other countries.
Find this title in our catalog: The Firefly Letters
Recommended by: Maite