Review of Soaring Earth

Soaring Earth
by Margarita Engle
Middle School, High School    Atheneum    160 pp.    g
2/19    978-1-5344-2953-6    $18.99
e-book ed.  978-1-5344-2955-0    $10.99

In this companion verse memoir to Enchanted Air (rev. 7/15), Engle provides a glimpse into her high school years in Los Angeles and early adulthood as a Cuban American person coming to an understanding of her place in the world. In five chapters (covering 1966–1973), Engle details saving her babysitting money to fulfill her dreams of travel, the joys and struggles of her various relationships, her eventual cross-country journey, and the decision to drop out of UC Berkeley, eventually enrolling in a community college where she finally finds her true self. Engle doesn’t shy away from portraying the impact of the Vietnam War; the injustices prevalent in society at the time; the protests and resistance of students and workers; and black and brown solidarity. The poems display Engle’s customary sincerity and reflect the parallels and divergences between her two worlds — her Cuban and U.S. American heritages. As stated in the appended author’s note, the current Young People’s Poet Laureate wanted readers to see that there are no straight lines for many of us: “All that matters is choosing a place to start, and then persevering.”

From the March/April 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Sujei Lugo

Sujei Lugo is a former elementary school librarian at the University of Puerto Rico Elementary School and currently works as a children’s librarian at the Boston Public Library, Connolly Branch. She is a doctoral candidate in Library and Information Science at Simmons University, focusing her research on anti-racist children’s librarianship.

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