Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir
Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir
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Catalog Number: #5789177
Format: Paperback
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Atheneum
Copyright Date: 2016
Edition Date: 2016
Pages: 224
Availability: Available
ISBN: 1-481-43523-X
ISBN 13: 978-1-481-43523-9
Dewey: 921
Language: English
Reviews:
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Reflecting on her childhood in Los Angeles and her Cuban heritage, Engle's memoir in verse is, indeed, nothing short of enchanting. Descriptions of Cuba as a tropical paradise and the home of her beloved abuelita come alive in the spare free-verse poems. She evocatively addresses weighty issues, such as her mother's homesickness, being bicultural, the challenge of moving homes and schools, the Cuban Revolution, and negotiating an identity that is being torn apart by politics and social attitudes at complete odds with her feelings and experiences. With characteristic precision, Engle captures a range of emotions and observations salient to a young girl: belonging (to Cuba or the U.S.?), daydreaming (about riding a horse), questioning (the absurdity of Cold War politics), needing (to run, play, fly), wishing (she could fit in), fear (of FBI agents), and more. In addition to the arresting content that provides many opportunities for learning, the craft of this memoir lends itself to creative exploration in the classroom. Poems might be examined in isolation, juxtaposed with others, or used as writing models. The book's poignancy and layered beauty make it a worthy addition to any collection and a fitting companion to Jacqueline Woodson's Brown Girl Dreaming (2014) and Thanhha Lai's Inside Out and Back Again (2011).
Voice of Youth Advocates
Enchanted Air recounts the life of author Margarita Engle from how her parents met through her fourteenth year. It is the life of a girl torn between two worlds. One home is the beautifully colorful island of Cuba, where her mother is from, and the other is the crowded noisy, metropolitan city of Los Angeles. Margarita faces struggles with being so far away from the lush tropical home where she can feel like her true self. In Cuba, she feels whole and content near the farms and beaches with the dazzling flora and fauna. In Los Angeles, she feels like a misfit, having difficulty relating to the students at school. Margarita takes refuge in nature when she can, and in writing poetry. When a revolution breaks out in Cuba, Margarita is denied the one great joy she has when her summer visits to the island are no longer allowed. In addition, fear and discrimination of Cuban Americans makes life even more difficult for her in the United States.Engle's poetry wonderfully tells the tale of this young girl's life. The format makes it easy to read while remaining a heartfelt account of Margarita's story. Vivid language and a beautifully crafted artistry in words conveys the deep love Margarita has for her tropical home, as well as the harsh struggle in dealing with discrimination, fear, loneliness, and the feeling of isolation that this young girl must face during the "almost war" during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It is a worthy selection for fans of the genre.Dawn Talbott.
Word Count: 13,609
Reading Level: 6.1
Interest Level: 5-9
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 6.1 / points: 2.0 / quiz: 175273 / grade: Middle Grades
Lexile: 1120L
Enchanted Air

FLIGHT


The first time my parents

take me soaring through magical sky

to meet my mother’s family in Cuba,

I am so little that I can hardly speak

to my island relatives—

my abuelita, my old grandma,

who still loves to dance,

and her ancient mamá, my great-grandma,

who still loves to garden, working

just as hard as any strong

young man.

Already, this island is beginning to seem

like a fairy-tale kingdom,

where ordinary people

do impossible

things.

Excerpted from Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir by Margarita Engle
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

In this poetic memoir, which won the Pura Belpré Author Award, was a YALSA Nonfiction Finalist, and was named a Walter Dean Myers Award Honoree, acclaimed author Margarita Engle tells of growing up as a child of two cultures during the Cold War.

Margarita is a girl from two worlds. Her heart lies in Cuba, her mother’s tropical island country, a place so lush with vibrant life that it seems like a fairy tale kingdom. But most of the time she lives in Los Angeles, lonely in the noisy city and dreaming of the summers when she can take a plane through the enchanted air to her beloved island. Words and images are her constant companions, friendly and comforting when the children at school are not.

Then a revolution breaks out in Cuba. Margarita fears for her far-away family. When the hostility between Cuba and the United States erupts at the Bay of Pigs Invasion, Margarita’s worlds collide in the worst way possible. How can the two countries she loves hate each other so much? And will she ever get to visit her beautiful island again?


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