A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow | Laura Taylor Namey
Length: 308 pgs.
Publication Date: November 10, 2020
For Lila Reyes, a summer in England was never part of the plan. The plan was 1) take over her abuela’s role as head baker at their panadería, 2) move in with her best friend after graduation, and 3) live happily ever after with her boyfriend. But then the Trifecta happened, and everything—including Lila herself—fell apart.
Worried about Lila’s mental health, her parents make a new plan for her: Spend three months with family friends in Winchester, England, to relax and reset. But with the lack of sun, a grumpy inn cook, and a small town lacking Miami flavor (both in food and otherwise), what would be a dream trip for some feels more like a nightmare to Lila…until she meets Orion Maxwell.
A teashop clerk with troubles of his own, Orion is determined to help Lila out of her funk, and appoints himself as her personal tour guide. From Winchester’s drama-filled music scene to the sweeping English countryside, it isn’t long before Lila is not only charmed by Orion, but England itself. Soon a new future is beginning to form in Lila’s mind—one that would mean leaving everything she ever planned behind.
This was a cover buy for me. Not only did I fall in love with the colors and art style but also the title itself. Cuban Girl? Tea? Tomorrow?! YES. I was looking forward to this, mostly because I am part Cubana and I thought it would be amazing to see that side of my heritage highlighted.
While I enjoyed the author’s unabashed display of Cuban/Cuban American culture, I wasn’t so thrilled by the story itself. The pastry descriptions along with Lila’s deep connection to her family, especially her abuela, resonated and shined through the standard YA contemporary fare. And Lila’s journey in learning to love and understand herself was also a positive takeaway.
However, the characters themselves were not all that memorable or, dare I say, likable. Lila, particularly, happened to be my least favorite character. To some degree, I could sympathize with her pain (losing someone is hard) and I also understood her love of baking (because sweets are good for the soul). Unfortunately, I was put off by her personality. Stubbornness can be endearing, but to a certain extent. And there’s a thin line between being knowledgeable and being obnoxious. Lila crosses this line several times, especially when she is in the kitchen.
The romance was lackluster, mostly because I was not attached to Lila and the love interest, Orion, was fairly flat and underdeveloped. Sweet, but also made of cardboard. Their relationship may have functioned better as a platonic connection, if anything.
I didn’t love this book, but it was decent. The themes about family, culture, self-awareness hit their mark, but just barely. And the England settings was nice, though limited. I’m mostly glad for the Cuban rep.