Welcome to my stop on the TBR and Beyond Tours Book Tour for The Bluest Sky by Christina Diaz Gonzalez. This sounds like such an impactful and emotional story that takes is clearly close to the Christina’s heart. A perfect read to celebrate National Latinx Heritage Month! I was honoured to get the chance to interview Christina Diaz Gonzalez and you can find our her answers to my questions, about herself and the book, below. Be sure to also check out the Tour Schedule at the bottom to see the other content creators participating.
Christina Diaz Gonzalez is the Edgar® award-winning author of several books including The Red Umbrella, A Thunderous Whisper, Moving Target, Concealed, and two upcoming books, Invisible (a graphic novel available in August 2022) and The Bluest Sky (a historical fiction novel available in September 2022). Her books have received numerous honors including the Florida Book Award, the Nebraska Book Award, and the International Latino Book Award. Her work has also been designated as an American Library Association’s Best Fiction for Young Adults selection, a Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, a Junior Library Guild Gold Selection, and as an International Reading Association’s Teachers’ Choice book. Christina currently lives in Miami, Florida with her husband, sons, and a dog that can open doors.
About The Book
Title: The Bluest Sky
Author: Christina Diaz Gonzalez
Publisher: Alfred A Knopf
Publishing Date: September 6th, 2022
Page Length: 320
Genre: Historical Fiction
Age Range: Middle Grade
Rep: Cubin, Cubin-American, Latinx
A boy and his family must decide whether to remain in Cuba under a repressive government or risk everything for the chance of a new beginning in this gripping story from the award-winning author of The Red Umbrella.
There are two versions of Héctor: the public and the private. It’s the only way to survive in communist Cuba—especially when your father was exiled to the U.S. and labeled an enemy of the people. Héctor must always be seen as a fierce supporter of the regime, even if that means loudly rejecting the father he still loves.
But in the summer of 1980, those two versions are hard to keep separate. No longer able to suppress a public uprising, the Cuban government says it will open the port of Mariel to all who wish to leave the country—if they can find a boat. But choosing to leave comes with a price. Those who want to flee are denounced as traitors by family and friends. There are violent acts of repudiation, and no one knows if they will truly be allowed to leave the country or not.
So when Héctor’s mother announces that she wants the family to risk everything to go to the United States, he is torn. He misses his father, but Cuba is the only home he has ever known. All his dreams and plans require him to stay. Can he leave everything behind for an unknown future?
In a summer of heat and upheaval, danger and deadly consequences, Héctor’s two worlds are on a collision course. Will the impact destroy him and everything he loves?
Christina Diaz Gonzalez’s great-grandmother, great-uncle, and extended family came to the U.S. through the Mariel boatlift. She vividly remembers meeting them all for the first time in the summer of 1980 and is proud to share this part of her family’s history.
In up to 9 words or emojis, without spoilers, what can readers expect from The Bluest Sky?
Friends, family, dreams, competition, choices, consequences, betrayal, crushes, hope
Without spoilers, can you tell us a scene you had the most fun writing and a scene that was the most emotional to write?
My favorite scene was the ending as it gives the reader hope for the future.
The most emotional one was the part after Héctor and Teo go fishing.
Héctor’s family is a big part of the story, were any of Héctor’s family members inspired by your family?
My family is Cuban and some of my family members came to the U.S. through the Mariel boat lift… but no one specifically inspired Héctor’s story. Instead, I fashioned this family from a compilation of stories that I’ve heard from friends and family.
Members of your family left Cuba during the Mariel boat lift so she has a direct connection to the story, how important was it for you to share their experience and story?
I thought it was important to share this significant moment in history, specifically US/Cuban history, because the boat lift permanently changed Miami and there was very little written about it… especially from the point of view of a child caught up in the politics of it all.
Your first book, The Red Umbrella, has been made part of the Florida school curriculum (belated congratulation!). Was there anything you learned from writing The Red Umbrella that helped you The Bluest Sky or will help you with any future work?
The two books are actually connected even thought they take place twenty years apart. A reader who has read both books will notice that Hector’s mother (Ivette) in The Bluest Sky is actually Lucia’s best-friend from The Red Umbrella. I carried this knowledge while writing the book and that helped shape much of the family dynamics between Hector, his mother, and his grandmother.
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