February 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Make Your Home Among Strangers by Jennine Capó Crucet | SLJ Review

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redstarCapó Crucet, Jennine. Make Your Home Among Strangers. 400p. ebook available. St. Martin’s. 2015. Tr $25.99. ISBN 9781250059666; ebk. ISBN 9781466865044.makeyourhomeamongstrangers

In this beautifully written and compulsively readable coming-of-age novel, Lizet is the daughter of Cuban immigrants and the first in her family to attend college—and it’s not Miami-Dade Community College, either; it’s Rawlings College, an elite liberal arts school in upstate New York, where Lizet has received a full scholarship. While Lizet is away from home, experiencing snow for the first time and finding out just how poorly Hialeah Lakes High School prepared her for higher education, her family and boyfriend Omar continue their lives in Miami and don’t understand what Lizet is doing. It’s 1999, and Lizet’s mother is caught up in the case of five-year-old Cuban refugee Ariel Hernandez (a fictionalized but essentially accurate version of the Elián González case), which serves as a mirror for Lizet’s own situation of being torn between two cultures. Lizet’s trips home at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter reveal the growing distance between where she came from and where she wants to go. VERDICT Capó Crucet has created an utterly believable character in Lizet, whose struggles with family, studies, friendships, culture, identity, and the nature of home will resonate with older teens who are preparing to leave their own childhood homes.–Sarah Flowers, formerly of Santa Clara County (CA) Library

This review was published in the School Library Journal December 2015 issue.

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