Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Firefly Letters by Margarita Engle

In 1851 author Fredrika Bremer visited Cuba for the first time and wrote about the slavery that was still practiced there. In particular, she was moved by the plight of her translator, Cecilia. Cecilia was 14, married to a boy she hardly knew, pregnant, and a slave with no hope of buying her own freedom. Margarita Engle has taken the writings of Bremer and made a story of three women dealing with slavery in Cuba in their own way. One of the voices is Fredrika's who is enchanted by the island but unable to understand the ugliness of slavery. One is Cecilia who finds her world being opened up by Fredrika's visit. Cecilia worries about her unborn child and wishes there was a way to buy freedom for the baby so that it will grow up free. The third voice in the story is Elena who is the daughter of Cecilia's owner. Although she is "free", Elena finds herself with very few options for her future since she is a girl.

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