A new middle grade novel from Adrianna Cuevas—author of the Pura Belpré Honor Book The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez—about a Cuban American boy who's sent to work on a ranch as punishment for a school prank gone wrong, where's he's confronted with a mystery as inexplicable as it is familiar and discovers that uncovering secrets will lead to learning hard truths about himself.
Rafa would rather live in the world of The Forgotten Age, his favorite role-playing game, than face his father’s increasing restrictions and his mother’s fading presence. But when Rafa and his friends decide to take the game out into the real world and steal their school cafeteria's slushie machine, his dad concocts a punishment Rafa never could’ve imagined—a month working on a ranch in New Mexico, far away from his friends, their game, and his mom’s quesitos in Miami.
Life at Rancho Espanto isn’t as bad as Rafa initially expected, mostly due to Jennie, a new friend with similarly strong snack opinions, and Marcus, the veteran barn manager who's not as gruff as he appears. But when Rafa's work at the ranch is inexplicably sabotaged by a man who may not be what he seems, Rafa and Jennie explore what's behind the strange events at Rancho Espanto—and discover that the greatest mystery may have been with Rafa all along.
"[...] readers of all ages will be compelled to reflect upon their own lives and legacies after this gripping read." —Booklist
"Cuevas crafts a whirlwind mystery populated by a compassionate community of lovable characters with effervescent personalities, to explore themes of grief, healing, and PTSD with tenderness and well-timed humor." —PW
"An intriguing mystery with a satisfying emotional payoff." —Kirkus
"Adrianna Cuevas deftly weaves together friendship and mystery in a tale that is not just about the ghosts of the departed, but also of love, loss, and lingering grief." —Julie C. Dao, author of Team Chu and the Battle of Blackwood Arena
Praise for Cuba In My Pocket:
"Cuba in My Pocket is an authentic and moving portrayal of a tragic era in Cuban history, told with empathy and hope." — Margarita Engle, Newbery Honor-winning author and Young People's Poet Laureate Emeritus
"Adrianna Cuevas has written a book that is a beautiful gift to the memory of her father, filled with love and a great respect for the culture and folklore of Cuba. The travails of Cumba Fernandez, a young Cuban wrenched into exile, will make all readers want to root for him, as he finds courage he didn’t know he had, dares to be hopeful when his heart is broken, and learns to always carry Cuba in his pocket."
— Ruth Behar, author of Pura Belpré Award-Winning book, Lucky Broken Girl, and Sydney Taylor Notable book, Letters from Cuba
“A harrowing and important read. Cuevas explores an often-hidden moment in Cuban American history with heart, compassion, and authenticity.” — Ernesto Cisneros, author of Pura Belpré Award-Winning book Efrén Divided
"Cuba in My Pocket is beautifully told and vividly realized. Cuevas thoughtfully explores the agonizing loss of home and family and what it means to try and hold onto both from across the sea. Cumba’s journey is specific, deeply personal, and a love letter to the freedom to dream. Heartbreaking but stubbornly hopeful, I will carry this story with me forever." — Nina Moreno, author of Don't Date Rosa Santos
"From the riveting glimpse into 1960s Cuba, to narrator Cumba—beautifully drawn in all his bravery, wit, and spirit—this story is a triumph." — Laura Taylor Namey, New York Times bestselling author of A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow
"Cuba in My Pocket is an expertly written, emotional roller coaster you don't want to miss." — Saadia Faruqi, author of Yusuf Azeem Is Not A Hero
"Inspired by stories from her father’s childhood, Cuevas’ latest is a triumph of the heart...A compassionate, emotionally astute portrait of a young Cuban in exile." — Kirkus, STARRED REVIEW
"Cuevas’ intense and immersive account of a Cuban boy’s experience after the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion brings a specific point in history alive ... Drawing from her father’s boyhood experiences, Cuevas does an outstanding job of eliciting the confusing array of emotions Cumba feels as he is thrown into life in a new country." — Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
"Cuevas packs this sophomore novel with palpable emotions and themes of friendship, love, longing, and trauma, attentively conveying tumultuous historical events from the lens of one young refugee." — Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
Praise for The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez:
2021 Pura Belpré Honor Book
NYPL Best Book of 2020
2020 Evanston Public Library Great Books for Kids
"A marvelous, magical mystery that deftly blends family, friends and folklore." — David Bowles, author of Pura Belpré Honor Book and Walter Dean Myers Honor Book They Call Me Güero
"Mystery, adventure, humor, friendship, and...talking animals--The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez has it all! Readers will love this funny, fast-paced, heartwarming story." — Celia C. Pérez, author of the Pura Belpre Honor book The First Rule of Punk
"A charming and vibrant debut fantasy." — Kirkus Reviews
"Readers will devour this fast-paced adventure as they root for Nestor and his ragtag bunch of friends and animal allies . . . In a unique take on South and Central American folklore, Cuevas brings to life an earthly type of twisted magic that transcends spells and transfiguration, extending into the feelings of belonging and finding a true home." — Booklist
"With this heartwarming debut, Cuevas draws upon Central American legends and her Cuban heritage to flesh out Nestor’s experiences . . . crafting a tense, satisfying tale of magic, family, and finding one’s true home." —Publisher's Weekly
"Cuevas crafts a riveting story based on folktales from Panama and Costa Rica." — School Library Journal