What do you do when your first book is a tremendous success and has eight hardcover printings before going to paperback? If you are Christina Gonzalez, the Coral Gables author whose first book, The Red Umbrella, created a huge buzz even before it came out, you follow it up with another historical novel, but this one set at the start of World War II.
The Red Umbrella became required reading in many schools across the nation and was a required read at Florida International University last year. It is on the state reading lists for Nebraska and Oregon and is featured in Scholastic Book Fairs.
A Thunderous Whisper already has received several very good reviews from Kirkus and Voya. In fact, one review said that readers who liked The Book Thief will like A Thunderous Whisper.
A Thunderous Whisper is set in Guernica, in the Basque region of Spain. It is the story of Ani, a young girl whose father is off fighting in Spain’s Civil War. Ani becomes part of a spy network, helping deliver messages to the u n d e r g r o u n d resistance until her market town is bombed by the Nazis.
Gonzalez said she was inspired to write the story by Pablo Picasso’s painting, Guernica. Initially, she didn’t know the history of the town, but the more she learned about it, the more it intrigued her. “It was the precursor to blitzkrieg,” she said.
Another reason the story called to her is because the Basque sent more than 3,400 of their children to England to keep them safe.
“That same idea of children being sent away struck a familiar chord,” she said. “The ship all these children get placed on is the SS Havana. That’s where it all began.”
It struck a chord because The Red Umbrella is about two Cuban children who are sent to the U.S. during Operation Pedro Pan. The operation was set up by the Catholic Church to find foster homes for Cuban children whose families sent them to the U.S. because of a fear that that Castro would take their children away.
While Gonzalez lives in Coral Gables, she wrote much of the book at the Starbucks in Palmetto Bay on Old Cutler Road. She worked there with Danielle Joseph, a young adult writer.
When she is not writing or taking care of her family, Gonzalez likely is making school visits. She often travels to talk at schools or to speak at conferences. She also does Skype school visits because they are cheaper for schools to schedule.
Publisher Random House has developed a teacher’s guide for A Thunderous Whisper and is sending Gonzalez to speak at a number of events around the country.
Her event at Books and Books is expected to be well attended as her first book launch party drew hundreds and almost 400 books were sold.
“It’s starting to look that way,” she said. “There was a quick response on Facebook and a lot of the people who came last time that are not on Facebook tell me they are coming. It’s going to be a huge crowd.”
For more information on the book signing, go to www.BooksandBooks.com