After Fidel Castro took over, many Cubans fleed their homeland. Young Ruthie Mizrahi went with her family to start a new life in New York City. She struggled to learn English, was placed in remedial classes due to her lack of mastery of the language, and was very homesick for lush, warm Cuba. Just as she started to gain confidence, she was in a horrible car accident that left her in a full body cast and in bed for months. She and her family were forced to make major adjustments, but they also grew in unanticipated ways through Ruthie’s long bittersweet road to recovery.
This novel is based on the author’s true experience as a young girl in NYC who suffered a devastating accident. Ruthie’s experience allows the reader to feel the struggle of moving to another nation on top of dealing with a traumatic, life-changing accident. The novel explores her worries, her fears, her frustrations as well as her discoveries about herself and the world. The reactions of the children and her family around her are honest and thought-provoking. The characters throughout the novel – many who are immigrants from a variety of countries – are interesting and give the reader a view into the immigrant experience that is rich and authentic. I cheered for Ruthie as she worked so hard to recover and was proud of the stronger girl who emerged on the other side.