by Margarita Engle

Reviewer Rating:


The Lightning Dreamer is a beautiful book of prose from the perspective of Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, (Tula) a Cuban poet from the 1800's. Tula talks about her world and the concerns she has over being married off and living in a world of inequality, where slave labor is still common practice. Tula's mother believes that if Tula continues to read and study, she'll become unattractive to future husbands and won't be able to make the rich match that she desires for her. She forbids her from reading and Tula is forced to hide her books and poems.

Tula spends time with the nuns in her village and eventually finds her voice when she discovers a book of poems by a rebel poet that inspire her and free her mind.  Finding her way around the rules, she helps orphan children put on plays disguising abolitionist ideas in stories and helped them escape the harsh reality of their world. As she becomes more immersed in verse, she finds her way towards her life's work of activism and social justice.

This book was beautiful and while often sad, it was full of hope and change. It was a very enjoyable read about a poet I knew very little about.

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