Freedom Doesn’t Just Come Along With A Tree


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To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Surrender Tree , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. The added bonus of an Author's Note personalises the featured, often tragic but always interesting and essential information presented with and by Engle's verses as her great-grandparents were amongst the Cuban peasants ordered to leave their villages and lands and be forcefully relocated to some of the so-called reconcentration camps.

Combined with an extensive historical note, a timeline, and appreciatively, also a list of references for further reading and research, I highly recommend The Surrender Tree to anyone, both young and old, who is interested in the history of Cuba and enjoys verse novels although with the caveat that while The Surrender Tree is considered and marketed as children's literature, I would not necessarily consider it suitable and even all that easily understandable for readers below the age of at least ten or eleven; and there is no upper limit, as The Surrender Tree is basically also a book that I would strongly and very much recommend and glowingly suggest to interested adults.

Now while The Surrender Tree as an entity, as a presented story is definitely worth a glowing full five star rating for me, the truth and fact that I did originally purchase this book not only to learn about the struggle for Cuban independence and because I generally much enjoy Margarita Engle's verse novels but also and even primarily to be able to practice my rather rusty Spanish both the Spanish and the English versions are featured in their entirety in my, in this here edition of The Surrender Tree , that the poems of The Surrender Tree are NOT featured in a dual-language, in a parallel text format is really and truly a bit of a major and annoying disappointment for me as I keep having to flip back and forth if or rather when I try to read the English in conjunction with and to the Spanish text, and it would be so much more user-friendly and less frustrating to have the English and the Spanish versions appear side by side and not one after the other.

And while this annoyance does indeed in NO WAY make me not appreciate and not massively adore and even love The Surrender Tree as a verse novel, as a wonderful introduction to Cuba and Cuban history, the way the Spanish and English sections have been set up, have been featured is still frustrating enough for me to personally now only consider a high three star final rating five stars for the contents, for the poems themselves, for the supplemental details, but only a grudging two star rating for how the Spanish and English components have been set-up, for the fact that The Surrender Tree is not what I had wanted and expected, is not really a true dual-language format by any stretch of either my imagination or my needs.

View all 6 comments. Jan 24, Leah rated it really liked it. It's historical fiction, written in verse form, about wars I knew absolutely nothing about. But it was so powerful. Each page for the most part follows one of the following characters: - Rosa: a freed slave healer - Jose: Rosa's husband, healer, and rebel - Lieutenant Death: a slavehunter - Silvia: an orphan and healer-in-training And it follows the characters through the Ten Years' War, Little War, and War of Independence for Cuba.

It's heartbreaking to see what Rosa, Jose, and the rebels go through for freedom and my soul broke repeatedly while following them on their journeys. What these rebels had to go through for their freedom will stay with me forever. Every line of every poem had impact. My book is flagged with lines that hit me so hard that I had to stop for a moment and make sure that their meaning wasn't lost on me for reading too fast or being too engrossed in the story.

I'm going to read more about these wars and the history, and I am planning on re-reading this book once I'm more familiar with it all. I think it'll hit me even harder than it already has. Jan 09, Julie Christine rated it liked it Shelves: caribbean-theme-setting , read , young-adult , poetry. Cuba's three wars for independence are conveyed in expressive free verse. A variety of voices, from an angel of mercy nurse and her husband to a merciless solider known at Lieutenant Death; slaves, resistance fighters and refugees--all tell of Cuba's tragic nineteenth century quest to be free of Spanish colonial rule.

The first concentration camps were created in Cuba during this time, a legacy of tyranny and slavery that carried from the Caribbean to South Africa to Central and Eastern Europe t Cuba's three wars for independence are conveyed in expressive free verse. The first concentration camps were created in Cuba during this time, a legacy of tyranny and slavery that carried from the Caribbean to South Africa to Central and Eastern Europe to North Korea. This little-known history of a storied country reads almost like a hallucinatory dream in Engle's poetic, point-of-view-shifting account.

It's a lovely tribute to her beloved homeland. View all 3 comments. Mar 20, Sabrina Gale rated it liked it Shelves: el-ed I liked that it was told from the perspective of Rosa and Jose, both key characters in this time of Cuban history, but two people I had never head of before. The fact that it was poetry made the story a little hard for me to read, but that might be because I don't love poetry as much as I like reading regular text. Feb 12, Betsy rated it really liked it. It's good to finally get a chance to read the most infamous of the Newbery Honor books, but I'm confused by at least one plot gap.

Lieutenant Death just sort of fades away without much explanation.

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With his Javert like intent upon killing Rosa, why did that disappear? Shouldn't we have gotten some conclusion there? Still, a great little book. And admittedly I probably wouldn't have read it had it not been for the big shiny award it garnered. View all 4 comments. Jul 14, Kathleen rated it it was amazing. What a powerful story for such a little book. Using sparse, beautiful poems to chronicle a period in Cuba's struggle for independence, this story depicts the beauty of compassion and dignity as well as the ugliness of greed and hate.

Margarita has created a story that will stay with you long after you finish the last page. Sep 05, Lauren added it Shelves: school. Jul 22, Anne, Unfinished Woman rated it it was amazing Shelves: author-american , source-library , women-writers , genre-poetry , history-world , author-cuban. This a very compelling set of poems relating the three wars of independence of Cuba, as told through the eyes of Rosa, Jose and Lt. Very fine way to learn about this seldom taught part of world history.

I was deeply moved by the feelings of these brave, resilient characters and the frustration of their enemies. Aug 07, Jamie rated it liked it Shelves: , multiculti , historical , poetry. I'm not the biggest fan of novels in blank verse, but I do find this book to be useful.

A three part history of 19th century Cuba, this book is told in brief poems, mainly through the voice of Rosa, a young natural healer, and Lt. Death, her nemesis, the slaveholder. The poems are occasionally gory the slaveholder collects ears to count how many slaves he catches and occasionally magical. They are all spare, blank verse.


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I'm not sure a teen would pick this up on their own, but it would make a go I'm not the biggest fan of novels in blank verse, but I do find this book to be useful. I'm not sure a teen would pick this up on their own, but it would make a good curricular tie, or an introduction to Cuba's history. Mar 21, Shelby rated it it was amazing. When I was first reading this book I never knew what to except but this book was really good all the way around.

I loved how it was where you could see yourself in the story. I have never read any Margarita Engle so I was not sure what to except and I have really never heard anything from anyone about her so I thought I would just give it a try anyways. I would definitely read this book again.

I would recommend this b 5 Stars This book was amazing and I really loved this book for so many reasons. I would recommend this book to anyone out there because I feel like everyone should read this book for sure. Shelves: poetry , nonfiction , young-adult , newbery-honor , , pura-belpre. You wouldn't think you would be able to learn so much from so few words!

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But not only are many details here, the emotion and depth of these characters shines through. This is a great way to learn some history and read some beautiful poetry at the same time. This made me want to learn more about Cuba's history. It definitely deserves the awards it has received. Dec 05, Lisa Simmons rated it really liked it Shelves: setting-overseas , audio-books.

A historical novel in verse about three wars in Cuba around s. Foreign involvement in domestic affairs is risky businesses! Just ask America and Spain. View 2 comments. Nov 21, Ana rated it really liked it Shelves: poetry , 21st-century , historical-fiction , childrens , north-american-literature , united-states-literature , cuban-literature. A story of hope and freedom. The characters in this free verse poetry are actual historical figures during the three decades of war in Cuba from I knew nothing of the Spanish occupation of Cuba and found this an interesting read to a bit of that history.

Including one of the world's first concentration camps. I don't care much about this book. The characters weren't realistic and it's really boring. Nov 17, Anna Reid rated it it was amazing Shelves: t-l , poetry. Rosa, a natural healer who doesn't charge for her services, helps victims of the war as Cuba fights for freedom in the 19th century. She is known as a natural healer by some and a "witch" by others. She marries Jose who joins her in natural healing as they both pass on knowledge to other free slaves like Silvia.

Towards the end of the book, the fictional character, Silvia is introduced who has lost her whole family due to disease and the war. She learns from Rosa, and helps others in need. This Rosa, a natural healer who doesn't charge for her services, helps victims of the war as Cuba fights for freedom in the 19th century.

This book provides both viewpoints of the war by adding the Lieutenant-General's narrative. However, toward the end of the book the Lieutenant's narrative slowly disappears. You never know what happened to him during the end of the war. The main theme in this story is hope. Rosa and all of the other members of the Cuban society are hoping that they will gain independence from Spain and finally be free at last. As they fight and survive one day at a time, hopelessness is another theme that the characters run into.

Most characters do feel a sense of hopelessness throughout the story. Silvia, a young girl loses her whole family and is feeling very hopeless until she finally finds Rosa and begins to learn the ways of natural healing. The book is written in poem form with different viewpoints in each poem or page from each different character. I think this was a wise choice by the author because through the poems you get to feel how each different character is feeling at the moment in time during the war.

You are able to follow each character through the different times in their lives and see how they grow and change. However, some readers may find this narrative difficult to follow. At the end of the book Margarita Engle includes a historical note and a list of references which validates the claims she made in her story. This book would be good for children in the grades It is an easy read because of the poem format, but the topics covered do have some depth that may be hard to comprehend for younger readers. Engle, M. The surrender tree: Poems of Cuba's struggle for freedom. New York: Henry Holt and.

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Set in the last half of the nineteenth century , The Surrender Tree traces the struggle of Cuba's freedom and independence movements. Told through multiple narrators Rosa, Silvia, Jose, etc. They capture the gritty hardships of a life lived on the run, in hiding. These freedom fighters and these nurses have a price on their head. They were especially hunted down by slavehunters. When the slavehunter brings back runaways he captures, he rec Set in the last half of the nineteenth century , The Surrender Tree traces the struggle of Cuba's freedom and independence movements.

When the slavehunter brings back runaways he captures, he receives seventeen silver pesos per cimarron, unless the runaway is dead. Four pesos is the price of an ear, shown as proof that the runaway slave died fighting, resisting capture. The sick and injured are brought to us, to the women, for healing. When a runaway is well again, he will either choose to go back to work in the coffee groves and sugarcane fields, or run away again secretly, silently alone. How much is life worth? How much is freedom worth? Cuba has fought three wars for independence, and still she is not free.

Her people have been rounded up in reconcentration camps, where there is always too little food and too much illness. Rosa knows how to heal sickness with medicines made from wild plants. But with a price on her head for helping the rebels, Rosa dares not go out in the open.


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Instead, she turns hidden caves into hospitals for those who know how to find her. Black, white, Cuban, Spanish--Rosa does her best for everyone, even Lieutenant Death, who has sworn to kill her. In this history in verse, acclaimed poet Margarita Engle has created a lyrical yet powerful portrait of Cuba.


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  • The wounded are sacred. We never leave them. When everyone else flees the battlefield, nurses are the ones who rush to carry the wounded to Rosa. I am learning how to stay far too busy for worries about dying. The Surrender Tree is well-written, powerful, and bold. Dec 05, Aly Gutierrez rated it it was amazing Shelves: my-books , reading She was often viewed as a witch in the society.

    It was set during the nineteenth century and is a recollection of both Cubans and Spanish fighting over control of the island. Rosa writes about the runaway slaves and the slave hunters that go after them. Suddenly, Cuba is considered free and the slaves are freed. Though, the new found freedom did not last long.

    The Spanish did not agree with the freedom of slaves and fought against it. This caused the slaves to be forced to go into hiding. She eventually meets a man named Jose and falls in love. They fear Lieutenant Death, who has vowed to kill her and the rebels. This story follows the events slaves were put through, as well as Rosa as she tried to help the sick. America steps in at this point and takes control of Cuba.

    It is not exactly what the Cubans expected or hoped for, but now they have an opportunity to look towards the future. As well as, during a history lesson, learning about America taking over Cuba. What shocked you about the events that occurred with the slaves?

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    It should pull your gaze upward and put you in contact with transcendent truth. As my friend Fred Swaniker put it, the problem you dedicate your life to should be a big problem. You are gifted enough to take on the worlds biggest needs. It should be something your life history has made you uniquely qualified to address. You should care enough that you wake up in the middle of night worrying and obsessing about this thing. Most of all, the things you commit yourself to should satisfy your yearning for righteousness.

    We all long for a lot of things. We like affirmation, status, maybe a little money, fun and sex. Religious or not, we all hunger for moral fullness, for purpose and inner joy. For long periods the leopard is up in the forest high in the mountains. You may forget about him for long stretches. But from time to time out of the corner of your eye, you glimpse the leopard, just off in the distance trailing you through the tree trunks.

    There are spare moments when you vaguely or even urgently feel his presence. This can happen agonizingly, in the middle of one of those sleepless nights, when your thoughts come, as Christian Wiman puts it, like a drawer full of knives. The leopard can visit during one of those fantastic moments with friends or family—when you look out at the laughing faces and you are overwhelmed by gratitude—when you feel called to be worthy of such undeserved happiness, joy and grace.

    The leopard can come during moments of suffering, when you are forced to peer into the deepest cavities of your self and you want to how you can connect this moment of suffering to a larger story of redemption. And then there are moments, inevitable in every life, but maybe more toward middle or old age, when the leopard comes out of the hills and he just sits there in the middle of your doorframe.

    He stares at you, inescapably, eye to eye and face to face, implacable and unmoving. He demands your justification. What is your purpose? What is your mission? For what did you come?

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    There are no excuses at that moment. Everybody has to throw off the mask. Some people have no answers and have given those questions no thought. They die knowing that and maybe trying to suppress that awful knowledge. But we all know people, on the other hand, who have led their lives through a moral lens, who can look at the leopard face to face exposing their great loves and their great brokenness. The people who look at life through a moral lens inverse the normal logic of life.

    Does this meet my needs? Does this work for me? Am I getting more out of this than I put in? But people who adopt the moral lens are looking for ways to forget themselves, surrender themselves, to throw themselves into something without counting the cost.

    They understand, if only by instinct, that their true joy is found on the distant side of unselfishness, not on this side. They ask: What is life asking of me? What problems are out there in my specific circumstances that I am well positioned to address. They ask, can I do this work the way it should be done. Dorothy Sayers once wrote that if you try to serve the community with your work you will end up distorting your work.

    People who see through a moral lens have a different view of marriage. They ask, does this person bring out my loveliness and can I love her in a way that brings out her loveliness? Can we together take our private passion and direct it outward? Can our morning snuggles spread outward and include our children? Can our sideways glances warm a dinner party, a barbecue, a neighborhood and a home?

    People who see through a moral lens see their own self-centeredness as the main problem in any relationship. But selfishness in you prompts selfishness in them and if a relationship is going to succeed somebody has to break the pattern and make a sacrifice play. We have all, as I said earlier, been raised in an individualistic culture. That culture subtly encourages us to bargain with life, to stand halfway out and protect our interests at all times.

    This arms length pattern leads to private loneliness and public fragmentation. One of the chief challenges of your generation is to heal the social isolation we see all around us, which leads to rising suicide rates, rising mental illness, greater inequality, falling social trust, strained family bonds and a loss of national cohesion. We are not going back to the old collectivism and conformity of the s. We have to find new ways of bonding with each other. We have find new ways of being tight. We have to do it through personal promises and personal commitments. In one of his poems, Wordsworth describes how a moment in time can tighten the bonds between a person and a vocation.

    He was out for a walk one glorious day and suddenly became aware that he was a poet. He kept that commitment all his life:. On I walked in blessedness, which even yet remains. An older man is talking to his daughter, describing his marriage to his late wife:. Your mother and I had it. We had roots that grew toward each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two.

    This is where promises end. When you make a promise and live out a promise year upon year through thick and thin, no more promising is required because you are one tree. You have moved from freedom to sweet compulsion.

    Freedom Doesn’t Just Come Along With A Tree Freedom Doesn’t Just Come Along With A Tree
    Freedom Doesn’t Just Come Along With A Tree Freedom Doesn’t Just Come Along With A Tree
    Freedom Doesn’t Just Come Along With A Tree Freedom Doesn’t Just Come Along With A Tree
    Freedom Doesn’t Just Come Along With A Tree Freedom Doesn’t Just Come Along With A Tree
    Freedom Doesn’t Just Come Along With A Tree Freedom Doesn’t Just Come Along With A Tree
    Freedom Doesn’t Just Come Along With A Tree Freedom Doesn’t Just Come Along With A Tree
    Freedom Doesn’t Just Come Along With A Tree Freedom Doesn’t Just Come Along With A Tree

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