Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir

Engle, M. (2015). Enchanted air: Two cultures, two wings: a memoir. New York, NY: Atheneum Books For Young Readers

This Pura Belpré winner and Excellence in Young Adult Nonfiction finalist is a rendition of the author's life and how she feels about belonging to two countries: Cuba and the United States. Margarita Engle describes her life and experiences of visiting Cuba, remembering her mother's land, her family members, and living as an American in Los Angeles. Engle provides numerous poems with rich language and imagery so that the reader can also envision how these two places look and feel.  Then, Cuba experiences a revolution lead by Fidel Castro and the United States reacts with the Bay of Pigs assault. Engle describes her fear for Cuba and how her family will be affected by such unrest between two countries.  She is unable to revisit Cuba in 1960 and the Cuban Missile Crisis leaves a void in her heart that is never filled until present times under the administration of former President Obama.

This piece is comprised of various poems that can be viewed as chapters of a life story, or even vignettes. Engle's use of poetic elements and devices brings the happenings of a child's first fourteen years (in the late 40s and early 50s) into the world of the modern reader. Engle also adds a timeline in the end of the book to relay the political tensions and progressions during the Cold War and Cuban Missile Crisis. The timeline spans from 1945 to 2014.

A work that shares that same format to relay a child's life in transition and how war can affect a life is Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai. It is also a New York Times Bestseller.

This National Book Award winner and Newbery Honor Book tells the life of Há. She is forced to leave the hustle and bustle of busy Saigon when the Vietnam War reaches her home. She heads to America - Alabama - and begins her life in the US. This book also includes activities for families and discussion questions.

Requirement: Excellence In Nonfiction for Young Adults
Cover images found on Amazon.com