Rima’s Rebellion: Courage in a Time of Tyranny

S. & S./Atheneum. Feb. 2022. 208p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781534486935.
Gr 6 Up–In 1920s Cuba, 12-year-old Rima Martin is a natural child. Her father refused to marry her mother, so they live on his land with Rima’s abuela. They support themselves by making lace, and Abuela works as a farrier. Abuela is a member of Las Mambisas and was a heroic medic during the Cuban wars for independence; she now fights for women’s rights. When the book opens, Rima has learned how to ride bareback to ride with Las Mambisas. Written in Engle’s signature verse, the book goes from Women’s Congresses through the roaring ‘20s to the growing suppression under the Cuban dictator, encompassing almost 15 years. A historical note provides some context for Cuban history at the end, but even with this, the story is chronologically hard to follow as it jumps from year to year, sometimes between individual poems. Rima’s struggles with anxiety and her place in society form the beginning’s main drama, which is augmented by her role in events that frame the struggles of Cuba. She joins a training program to become a printmaker, eventually printing for those rebelling against the government. She also meets and falls in love with a young glassmaker, Maceo, who appears almost out of nowhere. Maceo and other characters are flat on the page, with little dialogue and character development. Overall, the book lacks a compelling narrative drive to keep readers engaged.
VERDICT While the story is made up of sometimes lovely verses, the book lacks a narrative or characters to make it a must-have. A secondary purchase of Engle’s work.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing