Lulu and Milagro's Search for Clarity by Angela Velez
Published: February 8th 2022 by HarperTEEN / Balzer + Bray
Rating: ★★★★½ (4.5)
Genre: Young Adult // Contemporary, Coming of Age
Quick Thoughts: A charming and honest coming-of-age novel about sisters, finding yourself and growth.
About The Book: Booksmart meets Never Have I Ever in this Latinx road trip adventure—a big-hearted, voice-driven YA about two sisters who couldn’t be more different, but become begrudging partners on their school’s cross-country college trip—from debut author Angela Velez.
Overachiever Luz “Lulu” Zavala has straight As, perfect attendance, and a solid ten-year plan. First up: nail her interview for a dream internship at Stanford, the last stop on her school’s cross-country college road trip. The only flaw in her plan is Clara, her oldest sister, who went off to college and sparked a massive fight with their overprotective Peruvian mom, who is now convinced that out-of-state-college will destroy their family. If Lulu can’t fix whatever went wrong between them, the whole trip—and her future—will be a waste.
Middle sister Milagro wants nothing to do with college, or a nerdy class field trip. Then a spot opens up on the trip just as her own Spring Break plans (Operation: Lose Your Virginity) are thwarted, and she hops on the bus with her glittery lipsticks, more concerned about getting back at her ex than she is about schools or any family drama. But the trip opens her eyes about possibilities she’d never imagined for herself. Maybe she is more than the boy-crazy girl everyone seems to think she is.
On a journey from Baltimore all the way to San Francisco, Lulu and Milagro will become begrudging partners as they unpack weighty family expectations, uncover Clara’s secrets, and maybe even discover the true meaning of sisterhood.
I was so grateful to be offered the chance to read Lulu and Milagro’s Search for Clarity. I’m a huge fan of road trip novels, and throwing in some sister drama along the way made it sound like an eventful read!
Sisters Lulu and Milagro couldn’t be more different. This is detailed from the get-go with their strikingly different personalities. Lulu is a perfectionist, striving to be the best student and person she can be. She has plans, and she’s not afraid to chase them into reality, namely her dream internship on her school’s cross-country road trip. Meanwhile, middle sister Milagro isn’t up for the challenge of college or further education. Her plans involve, one: losing her virginity as soon as possible, and two, have the best Spring Break.
Unfortunately for Milagro, her Spring Break plans fall through, and just as she’s setting herself up for disappointment, she hops on the class field trip that Lulu is on, flinging herself into distracting from family (and sister) drama, and especially her ex. But on the way, Lulu and Milagro both have their eyes opened to things they never thought. Lulu knows she needs to fix what is stopping her Peruvian mother from letting her go to an out-of-state college, leading the trail to their oldest sister Clara, who is away at college. Meanwhile Milagro sees herself differently on the trip, suddenly seeing possibilities for her life that never propositioned themselves as a genuine reality before.
Overall, Lulu and Milagro’s Search For Clarity was a total breath of fresh air, delightfully brilliant from start to finish. I loved the family and sister dynamic and thought that they were written really truthfully. I did struggle at times to keep up with the different POV’s, especially in the middle, but this wasn’t a bad thing at all, it just showed how similar the sisters were, despite them feeling they weren’t alike. If you’re looking for a charming and honest coming-of-age novel about sisters, finding yourself and growth, this is the perfect one for you. 4.5 stars – Angela is definitely an author to watch!
Angela Velez grew up in Baltimore, under the watchful eye of her Peruvian immigrant parents. She has a BA from Columbia University and an MFA from the University of Pittsburgh. Angela lives in Pittsburgh, with her piles of books, three plastic flamingos, and one wobbly disco ball. Lulu and Milagro’s Search for Clarity is her first novel.