In Soaring Earth, a companion to Margarita Engle's Pura Belpré Award-winning Enchanted Air (a poetic memoir about her early childhood), Engle recounts high school, her first failed experience in college and her eventual successful return.
Margarita dreams of travel, independence and someday returning to her mother's homeland in Cuba. Her wild heart longs for adventure and new lands but, "before [she] can finish college and become independent, [she has] to start high school." Cuban-American Margarita begins her freshman year at John Marshall High School in Los Angeles, Calif., in 1966 with the Vietnam War and troubled U.S.-Cuba relations in the background. As Margarita becomes politically active throughout high school and early adulthood, her wanderlust and yearning for the summers once spent with her Abuelita in Cuba grow stronger. U.S.-Cuban struggles, farmer's rights movements, anti-war activism and support for revolutions and counterrevolutions swirl around her, making Margarita wonder where she can possibly belong in such a complicated world.
Soaring Earth is told in beautiful, brief poems. From Berkeley's tumultuous campus to a rat-filled apartment in New York, Margarita's thirst for adventure is strong and bold, even when she sees herself as anything but daring or courageous. By holding other characters at an arm's length, never naming with more than an initial, Engle keeps her narrative intimate, as though readers are viewing pages of her diary. Introspective and inquisitive, Soaring Earth traverses adolescence and early adulthood with grace, grit and unflinching realism. --Kyla Paterno, former YA and children's book buyer