From the publisher:
Amid the shadows of war, one family faces an impossible choice that will change their lives forever.
Madrid, 1934. Though the Spanish Civil War has not yet begun, the streets of Madrid have become dangerous for thirteen-year-old Marco Alcalde and his younger sisters, Isabel and Ana. When Marco’s parents align themselves against General Franco and his fascist regime, they have no inkling that their ideals will endanger them and everyone they love—nor do they predict the violence that is to come.
When the Mexican government promises protection to the imperiled children of Spain, the Alcaldes do what they believe is best: send their children, unaccompanied, across the ocean to the city of Morelia—a place they’ve never seen or imagined. Marco promises to look after his sisters in Mexico until their family can be reunited in Spain, but what ensues is a harrowing journey and a series of heartbreaking events. As the growing children work to care for themselves and each other, they feel their sense of home, family, and identity slipping further and further away. And as their memories of Spain fade and the news from abroad grows more grim, they begin to wonder if they will ever see their parents again or the glittering streets of the home they once loved.
Based upon the true stories of the Children of Morelia, Mario Escobar’s Remember Me—now available for the first time in English—explores the agony of war and paints a poignant portrait of one family’s sacrificial love and endurance.
The publisher provided additional historical information – scroll down for the info and some pictures.
Mario Escobar lives in Spain and writes in Spanish. This book was translated by a professional translator and it was the novel in English that I read. It was still one of the most hard-hitting books I have enjoyed. I emerged from a continuous read emotionally spent and attempting to see how more than five stars could be given to what I had just finished.
The novel begins with a family of five living in Madrid in 1936; one that is closely knit and happy with their lives even though they are not wealthy. Life than changes abruptly for them when a civil war breaks out in Spain. The first phase began with a military revolt in Morocco triggered by events in Madrid. In a short time, Spain became an armed camp with Loyalists on one side and Nationalists on the other. The Nationalists soon became followers of General Francisco Franco who is described as a mass murderer. The author describes the situation as the two sides square off against each other. Atrocities occurred committed by both armies and Escobar describes a scenario when mass murders are the norm.
Marco Alcalde and his sisters Isabel and Ana are the three children of the family living in Madrid. Their father takes an active role on the side of the Loyalists taking part in several pitched battles. Based on their parent’s views of the blood bath they live in with the definite possibility that all will be killed if the Nationalists take Madrid it is decided to send the children to Mexico. The Mexican president has taken an interest in helping children caught up in the war to come to Mexico for refuge.
Marco and his sisters are smuggled out of Spain by their mother, taken by ship to Veracruz, Mexico and from that port sent on to Morelia a city on the western side of the country. A school and living facilities have been prepared for them paid for by the Mexican president. Unfortunately, the heads of the school have taken the opportunity of administering it to steal as much as possible from the budget leaving only a subsistence amount to pay bills such as feeding and properly clothing the residents.
Mexico during the course of the civil war allows many Spaniards to emigrate and settle in their country. The author, though, has written the novel to fully go over the plight of the children and the forming of a group that became known as the Children of Morelia.
Marco and his sisters decide to try and return to Spain after several years in Mexico. They, of course, want to reunite with their parents and return to their previous lifestyle. The ending of the novel is a description of their search and the horrors they are forced to endure in both Mexico and Spain,
The author’s style is blasé, but in a manner that helps the reader to get into the atmosphere of a novel that features scenes of combat, horror, and the inhumanity of ordinary people caught up in wholesale killing. A very well-done story about ordinary people and what they turn into in the face of war.
Also from the publisher:
Historical Background on the Children of Morelia and the Spanish Civil War
In the great wars of the 20th century, an entire generation of Europeans sought refuge in the Americas. They were displaced first by the Spanish Civil War, which was the first modern war of the 20th century, then by the terrible World War II. Just over a quarter of a million people died directly in the conflict, including a large number of children. Some 456 sought refuge in Morelia, invited by Mexican President Cárdenas.
We live in a moment of history with more and more people displaced from their homes. After the Spanish Civil War, just over 440,000 people escaped from the fascist repression. A large part took refuge in the Americas. Especially in Mexico, Cuba, and Argentina. Currently, an estimated 65 million people have had to leave their homes and find a new place to live.
Remember Me narrates the consequences of the Civil War and the relationship of the Spanish Republic with Mexico, from the first days of the conflict, the exile in France and Mexico of many refugees, the Francoist repression and the mistreatment of children after the war.
In a world like the current one, in which more and more barriers and walls are being erected, Remember Me tells us about the struggle of refugees to survive and the harshness of life in a new country, but it is also a song of hope and solidarity.
The Children of Morelia seek refuge
Some 456 minors, between five and twelve years old, were sent from Spain to Mexico to try to escape the terrible ravages of the Spanish Civil War. The children traveled in very harsh conditions during a long journey to Veracruz in the summer of 1937.
9/2020 Paul Lane
REMEMBER ME by Mario Escobar. Thomas Nelson (September 15, 2020). ISBN: 978-0785236580. 384 pages.