A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
Stands out for positive role models.
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.
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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?
- Author: Laura Taylor Namey
- Genre: Romance
- Topics: Cooking and Baking, Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Great Girl Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Atheneum
- Publication date: November 10, 2020
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 18
- Number of pages: 320
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: January 2, 2021
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