My Brigadista Year

Written by Katherine Paterson
Review by Viviane Crystal

Fifteen-year-old Lora wants an education in the worst way, but her Cuban family has no money to spare, and so they initially refuse her request. However, her grandmother, an unusually forward-looking woman, knows Lora will live a life of constant poverty like her parents unless she receives an education. So she gives Lora a beautiful piece of valuable jewelry to sell in order to go to school.

Lora quickly avails herself of every opportunity, including becoming excited at hearing about a chance to become a teacher in Fidel Castro’s campaign for literacy. The remainder of the novel is all about her work as a teacher of reading and writing alongside the poor, educating and working beside them. The teachers unite through all problems and challenges and also share the fear about marauding Batista guerrillas trying to kill any and all literacy teachers. Katherine Paterson has written a unique, albeit somewhat repetitive, story about attaining a dream and becoming empathic about the poor through living their reality. Inspiring YA historical fiction.