No voice in elections,
no protection from angry men,
no standing under the law – enough!!
Rima’s grandmother fought on horseback during the long struggle for independence from Spain, yet two decades laterin the 1920s Cuban women still cannot vote, not even las Mambisas.
Men hold all the power here, may kill a wife or daughter suspected of adultery without penalty, yet leave their own illegitimate children in poverty with no rights.
Forced to leave school at 14, ‘natural child’ Rima learns lacemaking with her mother in the shack on the far edge of her father’s land, knowing he could destroy it and Abuela’s horseshoeing forge at any time. Riding on her buckskin mare is Rima’s joy and escape:
“The enemy I run away from
is my own thought-trapped self,
all these doubts born within me.
If only I could mount a horse of hope
day and night, airborne, free!” (pg. 44)
It’s awkward to make lace mantillas for her half-sister Violeta, but worse to be mocked at the forge by every man in the village – except the glassblower’s son, who gives her glimpses of beauty in his work and his words.
Year after year, Abuela and Las Mambisas ride in parades to show their skills as horsewomen, inspiring young women like Rima and even Violeta to ride, to ask again and again for voting rights and protection of women’s rights.
Can Rima find a future without the protection of her father?
Can Violeta live up to the perfection he expects?
When will Cuban women finally earn respect and rights?
Happy book birthday to Rima’s Rebellion, another powerful novel-in-verse celebrating Cuba’s history like The Lightning Dreamer (see more here), and Lion Island (recommended here); the Spanish edition will be published in April 2022.
What injustice would you parade against?