A Cuban Girl’s Guide To Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey
Teenage master of Cuban cuisine, Lila Reyes, is eager to inherit her family’s Miami bakery along with her sister, Pilar. But between spring and graduation, Lila’s abuela dies, her best friend abandons her, and her long-time boyfriend dumps her. Fearing Lila’s emotional health, her parents defy her wishes and entrust her summer to family and their Winchester, England inn. Even though she’s given a space to cook at the inn, she longs for Miami, the seat of her Cuban roots. Being a Miami Cuban baker is her glorified past and destined future, forged by years of training by her loving abuela.
Days into her stay, Orion Maxwell barges into Lila’s inn kitchen with a delivery from his family’s tea shop. A nuisance at first, opposite ingredients soon learn to blend. Orion befriends Lila, introducing her to his mates and devouring her food––comida Cubana.
Orion entertains her with his mental collection of superstitions and sweeps her onto his vintage motorbike. He wraps cold, underdressed Lila in his wool cardigan and becomes her personal tour guide. His mum’s early-onset (FTD) Dementia gives Orion a unique outlook––he never asks too much of the world, accepting what he can’t control. Lila soon discovers this British boy brings empathy to her loss because he’s living his own.
Before long, Lila can’t control the route of her own heart as she begins to fall for more than a new love. England has charmed her. And a special opportunity in London tempts her. As her return ticket looms, Lila feels impossibly caught between two flags. Hearts aren’t supposed to split like this––between a beautiful boy and a beautiful family. Between exploring an uncharted future in a rich new place, and honoring Abuela’s treasured legacy.
Be prepared to be hungry while reading this book!
A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow is so much more than a cute romance. It’s a book about family, loss and grief, culture, and yes, love.
Lila had a trifecta of bad things that happened to her and she’s not dealing well. Her Abuela died suddenly, her boyfriend broke up with her right before prom, and her best friend decided to cancel their plans and leave the country. Everything is messed up and Lila has trouble grieving. After she runs to exhaustion, her parents decide to send her to England for the summer. She has family there that own and inn and she’ll be staying with them. Lila does not want to leave Miami and everything she knows. Lila is loyal to Miami. It’s everything to her and she knows she can’t be happy anywhere else. Especially England where it’s chilly and rainy. She tries to avoid everything in the beginning, just sleeping and then a bit of running. But what saves Lila is the kitchen at the inn. Cate lets her work with Polly, who resists help, preparing baked goods for the inn. Lila is at home in the kitchen. Baking makes her happy in ways other things don’t.
Lila meets a small group of people including a boy, Orion. Somehow, these teens break through and Lila starts opening up to them. Orion becomes her tour guide. He’s able to show her that she can love England while still loving Miami. It’s hard to be away from her family, but Lila starts to create a life for herself away from home. She is still conflicted between loyalty to her family and what she may actually want for her own life.
The characters are the stand out in the book. I adored Orion. Jules was a favorite. I loved the locations and descriptions. The food sounded amazing. I just really enjoyed this book.
I gave this book 4 stars. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my review copy.
Warnings for grief, dementia, an older teen hitting on a young teen, and loss.
Have you read this? Is it on your TBR?