A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Lots of words and phrases in Spanish, mostly translated. Geography, history, and culture of the area around Winchester, UK. Some insight into professional baking and combining foods and flavors from different cultures.
Don't fight what you can't control; it's a waste of time and energy. You'll feel much more at peace in accepting what's out of your control and finding ways to work with it or get around it. That being said, don't be afraid to change what you can, to try new things, and to stay open to possibilities, even ones that are frightening or seem impossible. You can find your own way and forge your own path while cherishing all that came before. You don't have to do things the way they've always been done, or even the way you always thought you would do them.
Positive Role Models
Narrator Lila and her family model close, loving bonds, hard work, financial stability, and the benefits of a warm extended family. They're proud of their Cuban heritage and culture. The friends Lila makes in England are mostly White but include a young Black man from a prosperous, pub-owning family. Another friend tells Lila she likes girls as well as boys, but it's not mentioned again, and LGBTQ+ issues aren't raised. Lila models communication, empathy, and self-control and is a positive representation of a loving Latinx family member, supportive friend and mentor, and a fantastic baker. Orion's an ideal love interest who supports yet challenges, and expanding Lila's horizons by proudly showing her his own world and life.
Violence & Scariness
Some brief fear that a confrontation could turn violent, but the confrontation doesn't end up happening.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Romantic dynamics, a couple of kisses briefly described, and remembering a past kiss. "Gyno exams" mentioned as an example of something unpleasant.
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"F--king," "bulls--t," "s--t," "ass," "arse," "damn," "bitchy," "piss off," "hell," and "Christ" as an exclamation. Not translated from Spanish are "carajo" and "me cago en diez."
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Products & Purchases
Several food, beverage, car, and clothing brands mentions to establish character and location. One mention of Adderall.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens and adults have beer, hard cider, wine, and champagne, usually with meals and rarely to excess. Lots of alcohol at a party but the only excessive behavior is falling asleep. Teens talk about excessive alcohol use as a big part of formal dances like prom. Passing around a flask is mentioned. "Smuggled rum" mentioned hypothetically. Adderall is mentioned as one aspect of describing a band's sound. A strong scent is described as "shooting up my nose like a street drug."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Laura Taylor Namey's A Cuban Girl's Guide to Tea and Tomorrow is a romance with lots of positive Cuban American representation. Loss is an important theme. In the past few months, narrator Lila's best friend abruptly moved out of the country, her boyfriend of three years suddenly broke up with her, and her beloved grandmother passed away. And Orion's mother is in a care facility for people with dementia. Strong language includes "f--king," "bulls--t," "ass," and not translated from Spanish "carajo" and "me cago en diez." Sexy stuff is light with some romantic dynamics like holding hands and touching briefly, as well as a few kisses with brief descriptions. Teens from age 15 to 19 drink beer, wine, and hard cider, usually with meals. Excessive alcohol use at formal school dances is mentioned, and one party mentions shot glasses. The only excess shown is someone falling asleep. Drugs are mentioned a couple of times as comparisons, but no characters use drugs.
Is It Any Good?
Romance fans are sure to enjoy this sweet and refreshingly Cuban-inspired story that combines sigh-worthy romance, travel to a far-off place, and coming of age. A Cuban Girl's Guide to Tea and Tomorrow really shines when the author describes the Cuban delicacies and home cooking that narrator Lila lovingly prepares. Even if you're not a foodie, don't be surprised if you find yourself craving pan Cubano, guava pastries, and savory arroz con pollo.
The overall tone is nice and light. Although grief and loss are important themes, there's no wallowing in darkness here. Lila is a force to be reckoned with, and the large cast of family and friends are interesting and easy to relate to, although some aren't very well developed. Strong language and alcohol use make it best for teens and up.
Did we miss something on diversity?
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