CBR15Passport Book I own
Rima’s Rebellion: Courage in a Time of Tyranny is an interesting book. First, it is prose poetry and while that is usually a good thing for me, I am not sure this was the best format for the subject. Second, it is confusing what age(s) it is aimed for. The tone of the book is for a middle-grade reader (at least aged 10 and up), but the subject matter is more mature. If this was Margarita Engle’s first novel, that bump in style might have been okay, but this is one of several titles they have done. And finally, there is much history we have probably not seen before. This is partly because it is set in Cuba and because it is set during a time that seems to get missed regardless of setting, the years of the 1920s and 1930s.
I will start with the prose poetry. Since the subject is the women of the Cuban revolution (Rima’s grandmother’s generation) and the women of the late 1920s-early 1930, I am not sure that the short prose poems give you everything you need to know. We are talking about women who want to promote equality between men and women. They want the right to vote and the right to not be under the husband’s rule (the Adultery law). They want rights for “natural children” (at least some do). The Adultery law brings in the maturity level as well as the natural children. And we are dealing with the ideas of freedom, love (of self and others when Rima meets a young man) and even the friendship of two girls from different worlds, who should be friends because of their shared father.
The Adultery law says a husband can kill not only his wife, but her lover, too. And he can also kill his daughter if she “disappoints/shames” him. And natural children are illegitimate children, like Rima. Her father was married to his wife, the mother of his legal children, when he was with Rima’s mother. In fact, Rima is only a few days younger than her half-sister. The other aspect that is mature is the politics of the time, such as the dictator/current leader using their advantages (the president/dictator saying he will support women’s right to vote if they unquestionably support him) to keep power, but never following through. This is less of a focus than other parts, but is there and important, so it would have been nice to see more. And there is the Church. They will support some rights, but not that of natural children. But shouldn’t these people be the ones the Church supports the most? The ones that (as Rima mentions) Christ would have loved equally if not more?
The history aspect is what I came for. As of this writing I’m a bit over half-way through (I had to mention this book as one I owned, as I’ve had it almost a year and it is too good to miss, even with some of my misgivings), but I am coming away with a lot. I like how we see how the misinformation the people of Cuba have about the United States about their own similar struggle’s colors not only the men of the country, but the women as well. And it is interesting to see the racism and bigotry of the United States suffragettes had for the women of Cuba (who they should be supporting). This shows you, sadly, things have not changed, and that no matter where you are basic rights are a common desire.
There was a small bump in the language for two reasons. The first is some words/phrases are in Spanish, and I am totally lacking in my Spanish knowledge. I had to stop and look it up. However, you can mostly figure out the concept due to the overall placement and what is being described. And then there was swearing/serious language/slurs used. For me, that was not an issue, but for some people it might be. Yet is not gratuitous, but there for the understanding of the world Rima navigates. Rima’s Rebellion was published simultaneously in English and Spanish. I am looking forward to how the two romances of the story work out. To be honest, I’m hoping for love conquers all, but not holding my breath.