The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom
By Margarita Engle
Published 2008 by Henry Holt and Company
Even though I have like a hundred books in my apartment that I should be reading right now, I let my book sickness take over and checked out a bunch of books from the library. I tried to justify it to myself because I only checked out verse novels and books in series that I'm in the middle of reading. But I should be reading all the other books I have right now. Anyway...
Engle tells the story of Cuba's wars for independence mainly through the voice of Rosa, a healer. For some reason, this book didn't really grab me right away and was, for me, a little difficult to follow through the first part. I can't really explain why because this book has everything I usually enjoy - verse, historical fiction, multiple points of view. But, for some reason, it didn't grab me like it should have. However, this is a really well-crafted novel. Engle does a great job of depicting Cuba's struggles through these characters. I actually found myself more engaged after Silvia was introduced. This is a short book and a relatively quick read that leaves the reader wanting to know more about the facts on which this story is based. I know I have a hankering to find out more about this piece of history. I was a little surprised to see that this was a Newbery Honor book, but after reading it, I'm not quite as surprised (though, still a little bit). One thing, though, is that I have a hard time imagining the kid who would pick this up; I suppose there are kids out there who like historical fiction and might stumble upon this title. I don't think they'd be disappointed.