A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey
Atheneum Books for Young Readers; Releases November 10, 2020; 306 pages
Content Warnings: Underage drinking, dementia, referenced death of a loved one
About the Author: “Laura Taylor Namey is a Cuban-American Californian who can be found haunting her favorite coffee shops, drooling over leather jackets, and wishing she was in London or Paris. She lives in San Diego with her husband and two superstar children. This former teacher writes young adult novels about quirky teens learning to navigate life and love. Her debut, The Library of Lost Things, published 10/08/19 from Inkyard Press/HarperCollins. Her #ownvoices sophomore project, A CUBAN GIRL’S GUIDE TO TEA AND TOMORROW released November 10, 2020 from Atheneum Simon and Schuster, with a third title to follow fall 2021.” (Bio taken from the author’s website.)
Between spring and graduation, seventeen year-old superstar Cuban cook Lila Reyes suffers a trifecta of pain: her abuela dies, her beloved boyfriend dumps her, and her best friend abandons her. In an effort to protect her mental health, her family sends her to Winchester, England. Lila begrudgingly boards the plane, angry that she’s forced to leave behind everything she’s ever known. Already vowing to hate England, Lila doesn’t expect to run into tea maker and superstition-collector Orion. With only three months in England and a looming plane ticket home, Lila has to decide between her past and her future, Miami and Winchester, her family, and a new love.
Full of delicious-sounding Cuban cooking, my stomach growled almost the entire time I read this book. It’s a fairly quick read with some heavy topics wrapped in fun references to Cuban and British culture. Unfortunately, I was disappointed by the execution of this high-spirited contemporary romance. I got off on the wrong foot with Lila from the very beginning because of her somewhat mopey attitude about her trip to England and her sometimes immature actions. Namey’s writing style was also a bit too flowery for me, making it hard to understand all the events of a scene. However, I absolutely fell in love with Orion’s character. Sweet, thoughtful, and a lover of tea, it was fun to follow his journey throughout the story. Overall, it was a delectable read, but not my favorite contemporary novel I’ve read as of late.
(Pine Reads Review would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for providing us with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes are taken from an advanced copy and may be subject to change upon final publication.)
PRR Writer, Wendy Waltrip