Friday, August 3, 2012

Review: The Firefly Letters

The Firefly Letters: A Suffragette's Journey to Cuba
By Margarita Engle
Published 2010 by Henry Holt and Company

In mid-19th-century Cuba, young women do not have the freedom to do as the please. But when Fredrika Bremer visits from Sweden, a woman who believes that women have as many rights as men, things may begin to change for a few young women on the island.

This is the third book by Engle that I've read and the first where I was truly engaged the entire time. Engle has created a beautiful homage to Cuba and its natural lushness as well as presented a realistic portrait of the struggles for young women at this time in history. I had never heard of Bremer before picking up this novel and I think Engle has done her a great service by featuring her - she has a fascinating story to tell. I quickly became attached to all the characters in this short but powerful book and found Engle's verse concise and lovely. This book is quite deceptive. It's a quick read, like many novels in verse, but it touches on some deep topics and handles them quite nicely. I wanted this book to be much longer; I didn't feel ready to leave its spell when I came to the last page. It's clear to me that Engle is a passionate writer - she always chooses topics that are interesting and relevant to her and she does her research. I am very glad I picked this one up because Engle has definitely won me over.

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