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Daniel has escaped Nazi Germany with nothing but a desperate dream that he might one day find his parents again. But that golden land called New York has turned away his ship full of refugees, and Daniel finds himself in Cuba. As the tropical island begins to work its magic on him, the young refugee befriends a local girl with some painful secrets of her own. Yet even in Cu Daniel has escaped Nazi Germany with nothing but a desperate dream that he might one day find his parents again. But that golden land called New York has turned away his ship full of refugees, and Daniel finds himself in Cuba. As the tropical island begins to work its magic on him, the young refugee befriends a local girl with some painful secrets of her own. Yet even in Cuba, the Nazi darkness is never far away...


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Daniel has escaped Nazi Germany with nothing but a desperate dream that he might one day find his parents again. But that golden land called New York has turned away his ship full of refugees, and Daniel finds himself in Cuba. As the tropical island begins to work its magic on him, the young refugee befriends a local girl with some painful secrets of her own. Yet even in Cu Daniel has escaped Nazi Germany with nothing but a desperate dream that he might one day find his parents again. But that golden land called New York has turned away his ship full of refugees, and Daniel finds himself in Cuba. As the tropical island begins to work its magic on him, the young refugee befriends a local girl with some painful secrets of her own. Yet even in Cuba, the Nazi darkness is never far away...

30 review for Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba

  1. 4 out of 5

    Brina

    I give Tropical Secrets, A Story of the Holocaust 4.5 stars because this book is too short. Geared toward a teen audience, Margarita Engle writes the story of Daniel a 13 year old German Jewish refugee in Cuba. Fleeing from Berlin right after Kristalnacht (night of crystals), Daniel obtains a visa but lands in Havana rather than New York. At first timid, Daniel makes the most of his situation thanks to his newly found mentor David, a Russian Jew, and Paloma, the daughter of El Gordo, the corrupt I give Tropical Secrets, A Story of the Holocaust 4.5 stars because this book is too short. Geared toward a teen audience, Margarita Engle writes the story of Daniel a 13 year old German Jewish refugee in Cuba. Fleeing from Berlin right after Kristalnacht (night of crystals), Daniel obtains a visa but lands in Havana rather than New York. At first timid, Daniel makes the most of his situation thanks to his newly found mentor David, a Russian Jew, and Paloma, the daughter of El Gordo, the corrupt government official in charge of deciding which Jews stay and which return to Europe. This book is written entirely in song. Daniel eases his pain by discovering Cuban music. His grandfather and parents had been musicians, so after some time, he turns to music as the universal language. In the style of Cuban decimas, Daniel writes his own history as he constantly dreams of seeing his parents again. I thought this book was beautifully written. It teaches about the Holocaust in a way that younger audiences can understand without having to read about the ghastliness of conditions in Europe. Meanwhile, we learn about the time period from a perspective that isn't often discussed, that of Jews who ended up in Latin America because they were able to acquire refugee status in these countries. I would recommend this book to parents/teachers of middle or high school aged kids. I think it is a worthwhile read in for that age group and can generate interesting discussions.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    Read. This. Book. True, it won't be released for a few more weeks. But make note of it now to get to this one when you get the chance. Written by Margarita Engle--an acclaimed verse novelist--the book is the story of Daniel, a Jewish refugee, and the friends he makes in Cuba--Paloma and David. Daniel had no intentions of going to Cuba. When his parents tearfully sent him away--hoping and praying that at least their son may survive--this was right after the Night of Crystal or Broken Glass; they Read. This. Book. True, it won't be released for a few more weeks. But make note of it now to get to this one when you get the chance. Written by Margarita Engle--an acclaimed verse novelist--the book is the story of Daniel, a Jewish refugee, and the friends he makes in Cuba--Paloma and David. Daniel had no intentions of going to Cuba. When his parents tearfully sent him away--hoping and praying that at least their son may survive--this was right after the Night of Crystal or Broken Glass; they all thought that his ship would reach American shores--having heard stories of Lady Liberty and America being the place where all were welcome and the land where dreams could come true. But Daniel's ship was turned away from both Canada and the United States. His one chance for survival now depends on Cuba's mercy. The year is 1939. Does Daniel have a prayer of a chance? This verse novel is told primarily in three voices: Daniel, Paloma, and David. Paloma is the daughter of "El Gordo" a man who is hoping that these refugees will make his wallet fat--very fat. The bigger the bribe, the higher the cost for a visa to enter the country, the richer he becomes. And with the Nazis even sending men to spread propaganda about Jews, the public isn't necessarily on their side--open to the idea of Jews being allowed to enter and settle there. Still, Daniel's ship is allowed. But we're not talking about one ship or even a dozen ships. David is a Jew--a Russian Jew who fled Russia many years before. Paloma helps David--and others--help the refugees providing food and clothing and friendship and support--teaching them Spanish, for example. The book is a novel about many things: hope, life, survival, friendship, tolerance. But it doesn't hide the fact that this was a very ugly, very brutal, very cruel time in history. I don't know about you, but I'd certainly never heard about Cuba in regards to the Holocaust. It's interesting to see how this one island, small in size especially when comparing it to Canada and the United States, was able to provide some shelter to Jews fleeing Hitler. In the author's note she shares, "Despite tragedies and scandals, Cuba accepted 65,000 Jewish refugees from 1938 to 1939, the same number that was taken in by the much larger United States during the same time period. Overall, Cuba accepted more Jewish refugees than any other Latin American nation." This book is fascinating. It's absorbing. Read. This. Book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bookteafull (Danny)

    “I feel the heaviness of nightmares even though I am awake. How weary I am, how sleepless and hopeless—there is no escape from the torment of wishes.” I may no longer be rating children novels, but I will attempt to give them a decent review whenever possible. Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba is composed almost entirely in poetic format; verses. The story follows three main characters: Daniel, a 13-year-old German Jewish refugee who escaped Berlin after Kristallnacht, Night of Crystals “I feel the heaviness of nightmares even though I am awake. How weary I am, how sleepless and hopeless—there is no escape from the torment of wishes.” I may no longer be rating children novels, but I will attempt to give them a decent review whenever possible. Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba is composed almost entirely in poetic format; verses. The story follows three main characters: Daniel, a 13-year-old German Jewish refugee who escaped Berlin after Kristallnacht, Night of Crystals, thanks to his parents and ended up in Cuba after his ship was refused passage onto New York. Paloma, a young Cuban girl eager to help Holocaust refugees, even if it means hiding people in a dovecote and going against the ideologies of her corrupt father. And lastly, David, a Cuban Jew who is able to communicate and eventually connect to Daniel through their mutual understanding of Yiddish. The narrative provided insight onto historical events during 1939 to 1942, in which Germany sent over Nazi spies to Cuba in order to stir up anti-semitism and facilitate in spreading the idea that Jewish people were so "worthless" that not even a small, impoverish, and racially mixed tropical island wanted to provide them with shelter and aid. Those who were turned away from Havana Harbor were unfortunately sent back to Europe - a large percentage of which ended up in Concentration Camps. Throughout the war years, corrupt Cuban officials demanded large bribes to allow Jewish individuals passage onto Cuban land. Despite tragedies and scandals, Cuba accepted 65,000 Jewish refugees from 1938 to 1939 - the same number that was accepted by the U.S. during the same time. Overall, Cuba accepted more Jewish refugees then any other Latin American nation. The thing I respect most about this book is how it brought awareness to a facet of history many people may not be aware of - and is doing so via a children's novel. Whist this book wasn't as emotionally impacting as it could have been had it been written in adult-novel format (especially by an author like Kristin Hannah), it still gave way to insights on struggles and challenges Holocaust Refugees faced upon embarkation and arrival to their new destination. As far as I'm concerned, this book succeeded in opening the door to this aspect of history and getting me more invested in learning about the plights of Holocaust Refugees in Cuba and other Latin American nations. It's also a shame that I can't recall ever learning about this in school, considering the fact I grew up in Miami as a Cuban surrounded by a plethora of other Cubans. Will definitely be reading more into this topic.

  4. 4 out of 5

    R K

    Another success by Engle Honestly, the women is a maestro with the way she interweaves history with poetry. While there were some parts that were a bit slow, the story and meaning is there. This book is not only important to know the history of Jewish Refugees who were prevented from entering both America and Canada and clung onto Cuba as their last hope but to also know and question just how absurd it is to hate someone on the way they view life. Really humanity I ask you, why hate someone just be Another success by Engle Honestly, the women is a maestro with the way she interweaves history with poetry. While there were some parts that were a bit slow, the story and meaning is there. This book is not only important to know the history of Jewish Refugees who were prevented from entering both America and Canada and clung onto Cuba as their last hope but to also know and question just how absurd it is to hate someone on the way they view life. Really humanity I ask you, why hate someone just because what they value and love doesn't coincide with yours? As long as you both are happy and safe does it matter who prays to who or whether they even pray at all?

  5. 5 out of 5

    Betsy

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. If children's authors were given superpowers upon the occasion of their first publication, I know what Margarita Engle's would be. Stealth. She's the kind of author you never see coming. You can pick up a book of hers, be it The Poet Slave of Cuba or The Surrender Tree and you'll never see her wordplay coming. She plays fair, of course. From page one onward you see exactly what you're getting yourself into, sometimes as early as the first line. What you took to be the poor man's version of a nov If children's authors were given superpowers upon the occasion of their first publication, I know what Margarita Engle's would be. Stealth. She's the kind of author you never see coming. You can pick up a book of hers, be it The Poet Slave of Cuba or The Surrender Tree and you'll never see her wordplay coming. She plays fair, of course. From page one onward you see exactly what you're getting yourself into, sometimes as early as the first line. What you took to be the poor man's version of a novel (the verse novel sometimes fails to get the appropriate amount of respect it deserves) instead has taken a board with a nail in it and is now systematically whacking you in the heart with its text. In the case of Ms. Engle, Cuba serves as her muse, and not in the way you might expect (see: Castro). Through her books kids are learning about historical aspects of Cuba that you simply cannot find anywhere else in juvenile lit. She's already tackled slavery in The Poet Slave of Cuba and the war of independence from Spain The Surrender Tree. Now comes the most child-friendly of her novels. Don't mistake the term "child-friendly" with "simplistic", though. Perhaps the best plotted and conceived of her novels, Engle writes her most touching tribute to Cuba yet. As a place where all people with an inclination have found their own true home. He was meant to wind up in New York. That was the plan. When Daniel's parents spent all their money buying their son a ticket out of Nazi Germany, the idea was for him to disembark in Manhattan and meet his parents eventually there once they could get across. Instead, his ship was denied access to disembark in America, and sailed south to Cuba. Determined not to forget his parents, Daniel is so committed to his dream that he even has difficulty even parting with his hot winter clothing during the sultry Cuban days. While there he meets and befriends Paloma. Daughter of a corrupt Cuban official leeching money off the refuges, Paloma spends most of her days in her dovecote, living with the birds. The two kids are also friends with David, a Jewish man who once fled Russia, and who gives Daniel the advice and friendship he needs to move on. Secrets are revealed, friendships strengthened, and Daniel finds a way of living without merely going through the motions. You pay your money for a Margarita Engle book and what do you expect in return? Words words words. You want to see a woman at her craft, and Tropical Secrets will provide. There are lines like "I am thirteen, a young man, / but today I feel / like a baby seagull / with a broken beak." It's particularly sweet when you consider that later he will befriend Paloma, a girl who would care for such a bird. My plucking that line out of context does little to diminish its feel. Just look at these lines as I remove them from the story and tell them to stand on their own: "I have nothing to say / to any stranger who treats me / like a normal person / with a family / and a home." "I was taught that there are four / kinds of people in the world - / wise, wicked, simple, / and those who do not yet know how to ask questions." I'd quote more to you, but many of the best (like a line Paloma has about wolves and saints) retain their power only within the context of the story. Theme... boy, I hate talking about theme. I'm not a thematically minded person. If I notice a book has done something clever with a theme I'll sort of point at it and, in my customary caveman-like manner go, "Theme. Theme good. *grunt*" In terms of Tropical Secrets there was a moment in particular that just killed me. At one point in the book Japan attacks Pearl Harbor and America declares war. In response, the Cuban government arrests everyone who is German and NOT Jewish. Says Daniel, "I cannot understand / how the J / that condemned me / in Germany / has been transformed / into a mark of safety / on this crazy island-" And later, "and will it help them / understand / that those who feel safe today / could be the ones in need of refuge / tomorrow?" I'm always particularly struck by works of historical fiction that can take crazy true facts like this one, and then get to the nut of the situation in as few words as possible. Sometimes I feel like Engle works so hard on her imagery that her plotting suffers. But the gaps I felt in something like The Surrender Tree (a man spends practically his entire life hunting down a woman and then just disappears from the text without so much as a bow?) aren't present here. However, like her other novels I didn't get a real sense of the ending of the novel. [Spoiler Alert:] I appreciated that she didn't tack on a happy ending for Daniel, of course. Had he suddenly met the next boat in the harbor and discovered his entire family safe and well and on-board, that would have been something. As it stands, however, his acceptance of his past serves as its own capper. There is room for a sequel here, though. By the end you have a sense of Daniel's story and where it may go, but Paloma's is still wide-open, waiting for a bit of closure beyond her birds. It's hard to establish character with so few words, but not impossible. In Engle's books, adults are often suspect and flawed. They're victims of their own desires, forgoing basic human decency in the face of greed or obsession. Paloma's father is no exception here. You are allowed a single glimpse into his heart, and the reasons why he does the horrible things he does. But it's a brief glimpse, hardly long enough to make you feel anything for him but mounting disgust. Because Engle likes to switch her point of view from person to person, you have to be constantly on your toes, paying attention to who is saying what. If it works, it's only because she has a firm grip on her own characters. She'd have to in order to make her bad guys understandable and still hideous. I'm not a fan of violence in books and the sheer torture and gore of The Poet Slave of Cuba meant that I could respect the novel but never love it. That's a personal thing. Some of that feeling remained with The Surrender Tree too. Violence was still prevalent, but at least in the text there was a level of distance. Tropical Secrets is the most removed from this kind of sheer brutality, but you can't tell a story about Holocaust survivors and not mention what it is that they are escaping. The first sentence in this book reads, "Last year in Berlin, / on the Night of Crystal, / my grandfather was killed / while I held his hand." You get no extenuating circumstances other than these words on the page. No gory details. Just the horror of your own imagination. It is enough. Every person you meet has a point of view. Engle shows kids this. Even the bad people. Even the mean or confused people. She takes moments when humans have done simply terrible things to one another and then enters their heads. Their thoughts become verse, saying what they cannot or could not. Tropical Secrets sits well with the reluctant reader and the world-weary twelve-year-old with a taste for Steinbeck alike. A person always has to consider whether or not a verse novel really needs to be written in that style or if the author is just being lazy. No one will ever say that Ms. Engle is lazy, though. And this style fits the book like a hand in a glove. A remarkable novel about an amazing and true moment you probably will not find in your average elementary school world history textbook. Ages 8-14.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kris

    Margarita Engle teaches children another fascinating time in Cuban history in Tropical Secrets Holocaust Refugees in Cuba. When Holocaust survivors left Europe they landed in different parts of the Americas. This story focuses on three main characters. Daniel is a young boy whose means of escape was a ship to Cuba. Paloma is a young Cuban girl who wants to help, even hiding people in the dovecote in her backyard. David is a Cuban Jew who is able to connect with Daniel through the Yiddish languag Margarita Engle teaches children another fascinating time in Cuban history in Tropical Secrets Holocaust Refugees in Cuba. When Holocaust survivors left Europe they landed in different parts of the Americas. This story focuses on three main characters. Daniel is a young boy whose means of escape was a ship to Cuba. Paloma is a young Cuban girl who wants to help, even hiding people in the dovecote in her backyard. David is a Cuban Jew who is able to connect with Daniel through the Yiddish language. This time in history is told in verse, through the eyes of these three characters. As in her Newbery Honor book, The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle For Freedom, Engle uses beautiful language to convey emotion. This is one of my favorite passages where she describes Kristallnacht: “The shattered glass of a thousand windows turned into the salty liquid of tears. How can hatred have such a beautiful name? Crystal should be clear, but on that dark night the glass of broken windows did not glitter.”

  7. 4 out of 5

    Krista the Krazy Kataloguer

    The subject, Holocaust refugees in Cuba, was intriguing, but the book was disappointing. This is one of those stories that might better have been told at greater length in prose, perhaps in epistolary or diary form, than in verse. I felt there was something missing from the story. I expected a greater emotional impact, considering that it was about refugees. The historical note at the end provided more information, and I'm thankful that Engle did provide a reference to a book where one can read The subject, Holocaust refugees in Cuba, was intriguing, but the book was disappointing. This is one of those stories that might better have been told at greater length in prose, perhaps in epistolary or diary form, than in verse. I felt there was something missing from the story. I expected a greater emotional impact, considering that it was about refugees. The historical note at the end provided more information, and I'm thankful that Engle did provide a reference to a book where one can read further about this period in Cuban history, which I intend to do. It wasn't a badly written book, just not long enough for the subject.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Georgia

    This book was ok. It was an interesting subject that I haven't really thought of, but it just wasn't interesting enough. I think that with such a difficult topic, I should have felt some more emotion. I think that there should have been a bit more detail, but the book was kind of cute I guess. I don't think that reading it was a waste of time (I learned some new things), I just wouldn't read it again. This book was ok. It was an interesting subject that I haven't really thought of, but it just wasn't interesting enough. I think that with such a difficult topic, I should have felt some more emotion. I think that there should have been a bit more detail, but the book was kind of cute I guess. I don't think that reading it was a waste of time (I learned some new things), I just wouldn't read it again.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    This is one of the most fascinating topics in history and I was really excited to read about it. I was really disappointed with the pacing and confused by the time jumps. I think that verse really wasn't the best choice for this particular story, as it left a little too much out. Really, though, I noped out as soon as the Jewish character quoted from 1 Corinthians. This is one of the most fascinating topics in history and I was really excited to read about it. I was really disappointed with the pacing and confused by the time jumps. I think that verse really wasn't the best choice for this particular story, as it left a little too much out. Really, though, I noped out as soon as the Jewish character quoted from 1 Corinthians.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Destinee Sutton

    I honestly don't get why this book has received so much critical acclaim. The subject matter was very interesting, yes, (I didn't know Jewish refugees from the Holocaust were turned away from New York harbors and sent to Cuba) but the writing was not what I would call top-notch, especially for poetry. The voices of the different characters were not distinct. It didn't strike me as especially beautiful or moving. In fact, one of the first stanzas made me cringe: "My parents are musicians--/poor p I honestly don't get why this book has received so much critical acclaim. The subject matter was very interesting, yes, (I didn't know Jewish refugees from the Holocaust were turned away from New York harbors and sent to Cuba) but the writing was not what I would call top-notch, especially for poetry. The voices of the different characters were not distinct. It didn't strike me as especially beautiful or moving. In fact, one of the first stanzas made me cringe: "My parents are musicians--/poor people, not rich." (p. 6) Really? Isn't "not rich" what "poor" means? I know I'm getting all up on my high horse here, but poetry should be precise. There should be no wasted words. The ability to fit so much meaning into so few words is what sets poetry apart and makes it great. Sadly, this book read like flowery prose with shortened lines.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Whitney

    The story of Holocaust refugees ending up in Cuba is interesting and I would consider investigating it further, but I don't feel like this book really does a wonderful job with it. I think it just fell a bit flat and, as a personal note, I have trouble differentiating between Davids and Daniels in real life so having both names appear as main characters really threw me for a loop. That being said, the fact that it is written as poems could make it a good book to put in the hands of a reluctant re The story of Holocaust refugees ending up in Cuba is interesting and I would consider investigating it further, but I don't feel like this book really does a wonderful job with it. I think it just fell a bit flat and, as a personal note, I have trouble differentiating between Davids and Daniels in real life so having both names appear as main characters really threw me for a loop. That being said, the fact that it is written as poems could make it a good book to put in the hands of a reluctant reader. Also, juvenile Holocaust books seems to be everywhere so at least this provides a different angle.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Ferrel

    Daniel is a young Jewish boy who fled Germany during the Nazi regime. The ship he was on has been turned away from the "golden land" also known as New York. He now finds himself in Cuba facing obstacles he never could have imagined for his young life while he dreams of seeing his parents again one day. Due to discussions between characters of the violence that took place in Nazi Germany this book would be best suited for children grades 5th through 8th. Children who are interested in learning ab Daniel is a young Jewish boy who fled Germany during the Nazi regime. The ship he was on has been turned away from the "golden land" also known as New York. He now finds himself in Cuba facing obstacles he never could have imagined for his young life while he dreams of seeing his parents again one day. Due to discussions between characters of the violence that took place in Nazi Germany this book would be best suited for children grades 5th through 8th. Children who are interested in learning about the Holocaust would be interested in reading this book. Tropical Secrets is from the Sydney Taylor Book Awards List. KF

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jeimy

    My favorite is still The Firefly Letters, but I learn so much about Cuba from Engle's books. This one features four narrators, two of them are refugees escaping the horrors unfolding in Europe at the dawn of WWII and the others are a kindhearted young Cuban girl and her greedy father. Through their eyes we learn a little about what life what like for the Germans and Jews who found refuge in the Caribbean island. My favorite is still The Firefly Letters, but I learn so much about Cuba from Engle's books. This one features four narrators, two of them are refugees escaping the horrors unfolding in Europe at the dawn of WWII and the others are a kindhearted young Cuban girl and her greedy father. Through their eyes we learn a little about what life what like for the Germans and Jews who found refuge in the Caribbean island.

  14. 5 out of 5

    S10_Jessica Oster

    format: verse novel (audio version) age: grades 5-8 protagonist: Daniel Since this is written in free verse, the audio version has different narrators for each character which is a nice change from the typical one narrator you get with most stories. However, I don't think this book would have been as effective to listen to without the different voices to help signify when the character changes. Overall, I liked listening to it and found it easy to follow with the different narrators. format: verse novel (audio version) age: grades 5-8 protagonist: Daniel Since this is written in free verse, the audio version has different narrators for each character which is a nice change from the typical one narrator you get with most stories. However, I don't think this book would have been as effective to listen to without the different voices to help signify when the character changes. Overall, I liked listening to it and found it easy to follow with the different narrators.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Breanna Bongle

    Margarita Engle teaches children another fascinating time in Cuban history in Tropical Secrets Holocaust Refugees in Cuba. When Holocaust survivors left Europe they landed in different parts of the Americas. This story focuses on three main characters. Daniel is a young boy whose means of escape was a ship to Cuba. Paloma is a young Cuban girl who wants to help, even hiding people in the dovecote in her backyard. David is a Cuban Jew who is able to connect with Daniel through the Yiddish languag Margarita Engle teaches children another fascinating time in Cuban history in Tropical Secrets Holocaust Refugees in Cuba. When Holocaust survivors left Europe they landed in different parts of the Americas. This story focuses on three main characters. Daniel is a young boy whose means of escape was a ship to Cuba. Paloma is a young Cuban girl who wants to help, even hiding people in the dovecote in her backyard. David is a Cuban Jew who is able to connect with Daniel through the Yiddish language. This time in history is told in verse, through the eyes of these three characters. Daniel is alone on this journey and that can be really hard to be alone without your family. Paloma really wants to help by hiding people but her father doesn't has different views then her. One of my favorite parts is when she leaves and helps Miriam and Marcos to the train station. "I will not live in my father's house./He invaded my tower./He frightened my birds./ the refugees just barely escaped---/did Papa know that they were hiding here?/I don't care. I am so tired/of his secrets/ and mine./I will not stay/ in this life/ of lies." (p152) She puts aside her family to help them get away to a better place in Cuba and that shows a lot of courage for a young girl. I would recomend this book to teenagers who are really interested in historical fiction because it really got me hooked and I loved reading it from beginning to end.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Shelby Wiley

    Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba by Margarita Engle is a historical fiction book that was published on March 31, 2009. This book is about a young refugee named Daniel who escaped Nazi, Germany in search for his parents. Daniel ended up in Cuba because New York turned away the ship full of refugees that he was on. I rated this book one star because it was not good. I thought it was very disengaging. While reading the book, I really did not think that it had anything to do with the Hol Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba by Margarita Engle is a historical fiction book that was published on March 31, 2009. This book is about a young refugee named Daniel who escaped Nazi, Germany in search for his parents. Daniel ended up in Cuba because New York turned away the ship full of refugees that he was on. I rated this book one star because it was not good. I thought it was very disengaging. While reading the book, I really did not think that it had anything to do with the Holocaust besides the fact that he was a refugee in Nazi, Germany. I am not one to put negative reviews about a book, but I would never read it again. I am not sure if it was just me, but I just did not understand it. I believe that the book should have had more emotion to it and maybe could have been longer. If it was more interesting and more descripive, then I would use it when working with children. I cannot work with kids with a book that even I do not like. The only reason I believe that this book would be moe apealing to young readers is because of the cover, it is colorful and eye catching.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Tournas

    Paperback edition of Engle's 2009 historical novel about Jewish refugees in Cuba at the beginning of World War II. Full of anguish about leaving his parents behind in Germany, 14 yr old Daniel tries to find peace in the strange tropical country. Befriended by 13 yr old Paloma and the old man David, a refugee of the pogroms in Russia, Daniel finds music and friendship, but is always haunted by the question of his parents' fate. Told in alternating voices, the story paints a picture of the time, Paperback edition of Engle's 2009 historical novel about Jewish refugees in Cuba at the beginning of World War II. Full of anguish about leaving his parents behind in Germany, 14 yr old Daniel tries to find peace in the strange tropical country. Befriended by 13 yr old Paloma and the old man David, a refugee of the pogroms in Russia, Daniel finds music and friendship, but is always haunted by the question of his parents' fate. Told in alternating voices, the story paints a picture of the time, the place and the characters' complex emotions with Engle's signature spare, evocative text. I love how she manages to do so much with such elegant economy. Daniel's story is haunting, and when the story ended I wished I could follow the characters into the next step of their lives. And, once again, Engle helps to flesh out a moment in Cuba's history, about which so little is taught in our schools.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Joan Marie

    Engle does a wonderful job getting to the heart of the story using kernels of truth with every verse she writes. The universal need for love, family, acceptance, friendship, survival... all of these things surface in this story of refugees having to start over in a land not their own. One of the verses I especially like is this one by David: Dancing on stilts has always been my favorite delight of carnival season. I feel like I am sitting on God's shoulders, looking down at the beautiful world. two ye Engle does a wonderful job getting to the heart of the story using kernels of truth with every verse she writes. The universal need for love, family, acceptance, friendship, survival... all of these things surface in this story of refugees having to start over in a land not their own. One of the verses I especially like is this one by David: Dancing on stilts has always been my favorite delight of carnival season. I feel like I am sitting on God's shoulders, looking down at the beautiful world. two years ago, carnival was cancelled when a Cuban official decided the dances were too African, too tribal... but outlawing dance in Cuba is like trying to hide the sun with one finger. Joy and truth both have a way of peeking through any dark curtain.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Gina

    The young people bring me a baffling new question, one that lies far beyond my own powers of thought. This question belongs to the mind of God: How can people stay sane in a world that makes no sense? I really like Engle's way of telling a story. It was interesting reading a bit more about the Jewish experience in Cuba, especially during WWII. It was more interesting reading it now when refugees, anti-semitism, and propaganda have so much relevance. Now I wonder will people in New York and Toronto hear ab The young people bring me a baffling new question, one that lies far beyond my own powers of thought. This question belongs to the mind of God: How can people stay sane in a world that makes no sense? I really like Engle's way of telling a story. It was interesting reading a bit more about the Jewish experience in Cuba, especially during WWII. It was more interesting reading it now when refugees, anti-semitism, and propaganda have so much relevance. Now I wonder will people in New York and Toronto hear about this reversal of danger and will it help them understand that those who feel safe today could be the ones in need of refuge tomorrow?

  20. 5 out of 5

    Erikka

    Cuba accepted more Holocaust refugees than any other nation and way way more than the US. This book follows a refugee and a few natives as they adapt to their new life and new island residents. It brought to mind the plight of the St. Louis, which I believe is indirectly referenced at the end of this book. When considering our treatment of refugees today, look no further than the St. Louis. Our history reflects poorly on our asylum seeker and refugee treatment and we're not doing much to improve Cuba accepted more Holocaust refugees than any other nation and way way more than the US. This book follows a refugee and a few natives as they adapt to their new life and new island residents. It brought to mind the plight of the St. Louis, which I believe is indirectly referenced at the end of this book. When considering our treatment of refugees today, look no further than the St. Louis. Our history reflects poorly on our asylum seeker and refugee treatment and we're not doing much to improve. I downgraded this a bit bc it's a bit "poetic" and artsy for the age focus. It's for younger kids and usually they do a bit better comprehension-wise if things are straightforward.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    While it doesn’t really tell much of the story of Holocaust refugees who escaped to Cuba, Tropical Secrets is written in a very unique style. It’s written in ballad or slam poetry form in the alternating voices of three people (and a very occasional fourth). It reads very quickly. At the end the author gives an extremely brief overview of how refugees ended up in Cuba at the beginning of World War II. It’s a good introduction for anyone curious about that little talked about group of people.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Will

    The poetry in Tropical Secrets is simple, but it hides raw honesty and secrets in its verse. The way Engle uses words gives the reader just a taste of the Cuban culture, through the eyes of both Daniel and Paloma. The inclusion of a third perspective was an interesting choice, that didn't mesh well for me. Regardless, I enjoyed reading this and learning about a story I hadn't heard before. The poetry in Tropical Secrets is simple, but it hides raw honesty and secrets in its verse. The way Engle uses words gives the reader just a taste of the Cuban culture, through the eyes of both Daniel and Paloma. The inclusion of a third perspective was an interesting choice, that didn't mesh well for me. Regardless, I enjoyed reading this and learning about a story I hadn't heard before.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Collin A

    this was a very sad book for me. The horific events that happened long ago can still hold so much pain for people. I think this was eye opening to see that although they escaped that they still got turned away because they could not hold everybody. Cuba was supposed to be the place to be safe but that time nobody was truly safe. The soft colors of greens and blue took a big impacat on the story. Cool colors always bring this gloomy feel to me when i read

  24. 5 out of 5

    Linda Pérez

    “Now I wonder will people in New York and Toronto hear about this reversal of danger and will it help them understand that those who feel safe today could be the ones in need of refuge tomorrow?” This quote alone represents the main reason I think everyone should read this. It’s such a powerful story of refugees, identity, hope and despair.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jayna

    I think that this is an important read and reminder. People make an assumption of what it means to be from Cuba or raised in Cuba, and Engle brings forth the marginalized stories that highlight the various cultures that make up Cuba's cultural base. I think that this is an important read and reminder. People make an assumption of what it means to be from Cuba or raised in Cuba, and Engle brings forth the marginalized stories that highlight the various cultures that make up Cuba's cultural base.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Neil Sud

    This was a great read; however, I felt that there wasn't any real conflict or action. The story went really fast, and Daniel quickly learned how to survive in Cuba without his family. This was a great read; however, I felt that there wasn't any real conflict or action. The story went really fast, and Daniel quickly learned how to survive in Cuba without his family.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Bryan

    THIS BOOK IS AWESOME. it is unique,because it is written in the form of a poem. it details a jewish family escaping from Berlin to Cuba.

  28. 4 out of 5

    SAM

    Gooood

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sharon G

    Adolescent literature, interesting topic not widely known.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rae

    What a beautiful way to tell an important piece of history. Gorgeous and poetic, and perfect for both preteens/teens and adults alike.

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