A Cuban Girl's Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey
Published: November 10th 2020 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Rating: ★★★★★ (5)
Genre: Young Adult // Romance, Contemporary
Quick Thoughts: A sugar-sweet novel that made me laugh, cry and wish on a happy ending for a girl with big dreams and a star-named boy.
About The Book:
Love & Gelato meets Don’t Date Rosa Santos in this charming, heartfelt story following a Miami girl who unexpectedly finds love—and herself—in a small English town.
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.
After reading When We Were Them, I became an instant fan of Laura Taylor Namey. I’m not sure why I didn’t read A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow first, as I already owned it, but nevertheless—I was looking for something that would get me in the springtime mood, and this little gem stuck out to me.
Lila Reyes doesn’t want to be in England—in fact, she’d rather be where she feels most at home, in her Abuela’s kitchen in Miami, carrying on her legacy. But after her Abuela passes, her boyfriend breaks up with her and her best friend up and leaves without telling her, Lila has no other choice but to follow her families wishes and, for the sake of her sanity and health, go to her family friend’s inn to get a relaxing break away from the stress she’s been under.
At first, Lila is unsure of Winchester, England. She finds that her clothes are not weather appropriate, the inn’s baker is not willing to let her incorporate some of her recipes, and she feels like she’s making mistake after mistake. Enter Orion Maxwell, the son of a tea shop owner. The boy with a constellation for a name is just as sparkling as the stars, pulling Lila into his—and his friends—orbit. Suddenly, Lila is starting to fit in more. She gets her chance to show off her baking skills in the kitchen, gets a whirlwind tour of all the small town has to offer, and makes connections that make her feel warmer than the Miami heat. But with an impending decision of returning home to work at her Abuela’s panaderia, an old life awaiting her to pick it up, Lila doesn’t find the concept of returning back and carrying on as appealing as when she arrived. There are more options—a chance to learn more baking skills, a new town that feels like a second home, people that have welcomed her with open arms. Plus, she’s fallen pretty hard for Orion. With a heavy decision to make, including her Abuela’s memory weighing on her, Lila has a lot to think about. But when push comes to shove, the conclusion comes easier than she thought.
Overall, A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow swept me into a world of decadent food, rich culture and picturesque landscapes of a small, cosy English town and the warm sparkle of Miami. Midway through reading, I even got the baking-bug, and had to go and bake cakes—that’s how mouth-watering it was! The connection between Lila and Orion was the star of the show, a sweet and innocent relationship that blossomed from a friendship to more, something so fragile and strong about it at the same time. I adored the side-characters, Jules in particular, and loved the addition of music and Spanish language throughout—esto fue hermoso. If you’re looking for a YA romance with family elements, this is the book for you. Laura does not miss the mark with anything she writes, this I am so sure of. I adored this sugar-sweet novel that made me laugh, cry and wish on a happy ending for a girl with big dreams and a star-named boy. Five stars!
Laura Taylor Namey is the New York Times bestselling author of Reese’s Book Club pick A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow, The Library of Lost Things, and When We Were Them. A proud Cuban-American, she can be found hunting for vintage treasures and wishing she was in London or Paris. She lives in San Diego with her husband and two children. This former teacher writes young adult novels featuring quirky teens learning to navigate life and love. She holds a BA in Elementary Education from the University of San Diego and is the winner of the Peggy Miller Award for excellence in young adult fiction.