A Cuban Girl's Guide to Tea and Tomorrow

Book review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
A Cuban Girl's Guide to Tea and Tomorrow Book Poster Image
Latina teen falls for English boy in sweet romance.

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Kids say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Stands out for positive role models.

Educational Value

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.

Positive Messages

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

Some brief fear that a confrontation could turn violent, but the confrontation doesn't end up happening.

Sex

Romantic dynamics, a couple of kisses briefly described, and remembering a past kiss. "Gyno exams" mentioned as an example of something unpleasant.

Language

"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."

Consumerism

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."

What 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.

User Reviews

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Teen, 13 years old Written byedwardcullenspi... January 3, 2021

Sweet and Charming Romance!

I personally found this book to be extremely enjoyable! It’s certainly a light read but nonetheless was entertaining and the last few chapters kept me thinking... Continue reading

What's the story?

A CUBAN GIRL'S GUIDE TO TEA AND TOMORROW tells the story of almost-18-year-old Lila, a Miami native who's just graduated from high school. In the past few months she's lost some of the most important people in her life. Her boyfriend of three years broke up with her right before prom. Her best friend suddenly moved out of the country, abandoning all the plans they'd had together for after high school. And her beloved grandmother, who instilled in Lila her passion for baking, passed away. Lila's parents decide the best thing for her would be to visit her aunt, who lives in the English town of Winchester and runs an inn. Lila's pretty sure the only place she'll be able to heal is at home, among the people, places, and food she loves so much. But off to England she reluctantly goes. There she has a chance to take over the inn's kitchen and meets Orion, the handsome young man who delivers the inn's tea. As she introduces Winchester to Cuban pastries, Orion introduces her to the people and places he loves. And as her feelings for Orion grow, it starts to look like the one thing she wanted most, going back home to Miami, is going to be the hardest thing she's ever done.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the strong language in A Cuban Girl's Guide to Tea and Tomorrow. How much is OK? Is reading it different from hearing it in movies, videos, games, etc.? Why, or why not?

  • What about the alcohol use? Is it realistic, or glamorized? Is underage drinking a big deal?

  • Is Lila a positive role model? What are her character strengths and weaknesses? What about other characters? Who's your favorite?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love romance and books with Latinx characters

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