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Lila Reyes has just suffered a trifecta of immense losses and she’s not handling them well. Her worried family decides that she needs a change of scenery and ships her off to stay with extended family in England. Lila doesn’t want to go. Miami is her home. But England and the local people slowly start to heal her heart–and steal it.
I don’t read a lot of contemporary young adult fiction because I don’t have a lot of patience for the drama. Lila starts off with plenty of drama. She came across to me as pretty self-absorbed.
But she grows. She starts to see that yes, she’s had a spring of heartbreak by anyone’s standards. But it could be worse. She starts to realize that she needs to move on and maybe she needs to change some of her own ways. I respect that. It’s a slow process and it felt authentic to me.
The group of friends that she makes in England are a bit too perfect to be true. They tease each other but they always know exactly the right thing to say and do at exactly the right time. There aren’t even any little spats. It seems unrealistic but it was sweet to read about.
Speaking of unrealistic and sweet…
Orion is entirely too good to be true but I loved his character.
There’s a whole subplot of a London band that comes to the little town of Winchester and tries to woo one of Lila’s new friends away from her band and into theirs. There’s quite a bit of page time devoted to all this. And it never goes anywhere. It’s just a plot thread that’s left dangling when the conflict has served its purpose.
I married into a Cuban family. I’m a picky eater. But holy moly, can Cubans cook. The descriptions of Lila’s dishes have me dying for Cuban food and honestly, it’s almost impossible to find outside of Miami. If you do find it, it’s never quite the same. I don’t know when I’ll be able to satisfy this craving!
While I’m on my experience of Cuban families, it was very odd to me that Lila never mentions the Cuban Revolution when she talks about her abuela’s life. I kept wondering why. I can’t say that my in-laws harp on it, but their stories are definitely divided into Before the Revolution and After the Revolution. It’s always an undercurrent when they talk about the past. In the acknowledgements, the author states that Lila’s abuela’s story of coming to the States as an exchange student just before the Revolution and deciding to stay is the author’s own mother’s story. I guess her immediate family sort of managed to accidentally dodge the whole thing so of course it doesn’t figure largely in her writing.
Frankie Corzo’s narration was perfection.
I recommend this as a title that will ultimately leave you with a smile on your face. Just try to have some tea and Cuban pastelitos nearby as you read.
If you liked A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow, you might also like my reviews of
- A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi
- Geekerella by Ashley Poston
- Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok, read by Grayce Wey
Buy A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow from Malaprop’s Bookstore in beautiful Asheville, NC or