All Isa wants is to be a regular American teenager, something her Cuban immigrant mother most definitely does not understand. After almost eighteen years of constant debate over everything from birthdays to boys, Isa has had enough. She's counting down the days until she leaves for college—and can get as far away from Miami (North Cuba) as possible. But the more Isa tries to detach herself from her roots, the more tangled she becomes. Will she ever find the normal American life she dreams of? Or is she destined to become a cubanita after all?


From School Library Journal

Grade 10 Up–Isabel Díaz is spending her summer between high school and college teaching art at a summer camp, avoiding her mother's pressure to embrace her Cuban roots, and flirting with an older man. Triana deftly weaves the Spanish language and the flavor of Miami's Cuban population into her fast-paced story. Although Isabel has moments of maturity well beyond her years, the tug of war between her mother's traditional ideas of how a young Cuban-American woman should behave and Isabel's struggle to become her own person will resonate with many teens, whatever their cultural background. Steamy scenes between Isabel and her sleazy love interest are well balanced between the gradual acceptance of her heritage and her evolving relationship with her mother. Isabel's story is an entertaining read that will be gobbled up by cubanitas and non-cubanitas alike.–Melissa Christy Buron, Epps Island Elementary, Houston, TX
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Starred Review Gr. 9-12. One great advantage in writing about one's own culture is the freedom to be irreverent. Triana, born in Miami to Cuban immigrants, takes advantage of the opportunity in a fast, hilarious, first-person narrative that focuses on Cuban American Isabel Diaz's coming-of-age. As with all good writing, the particulars of the story, the search for roots, and the conflicts in leaving home will speak to teens everywhere--not just those in immigrant families. At 17, Isabel struggles with hovering, overanxious Mami, who knows how to push the guilt buttons and won't learn proper English ("You'd think in twenty-six years, she could learn how to speak correctly"). Mami is sure that sexy, funny Andrew is nothing but trouble, but Isabel denies all the signs. The love interest and the truth about family help build a strong story, but the sentimental twists that allow Isabel to find and then leave home are not nearly as satisfying and fun as the insider's view of the community. Triana doesn't include a glossary; the Spanish is clear from the context, and as Isabel points out, the best idioms are not translatable anyway. Pair this with Nancy Osa's Cuba 15 (2003). Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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