“I was a collection of hyphens and bilingual words, always caught in between (…) Never quite right or enought for either”
Title: Don’t Date Rosa Santos
Author: Nina Moreno
Publisher: Dreamscape Media
Voice: Almarie Guerra
Rating: 5/5 ★★★★★
Rosa Santos is cursed by the seaat least, that’s what they say. Dating her is bad news, especially if you’re a boy with a boat. But Rosa feels more caught than cursedcaught between cultures and choices, between her abuela, a beloved healer and pillar of their community, and her mother, an artist who crashes in and out of her life like a hurricane. She’s constantly caught between Port Coral, the quirky South Florida town they call home, and Cuba, the island her abuela refuses to talk about. As her college decision looms, Rosa collidesliterallywith Alex Aquino, the mysterious boy with tattoos of the ocean whose family owns the marina. With her heart, her family, and her future on the line, can Rosa break a curse and find her place beyond the horizon?
This book was amazing for 4 reasons:
- The varied latinx representation. There isn’t one way to be latinx and in this book we see different people living their best lives and being authentic without it feeling rigid or forced
- The characters felt real and well developed, even if they appeared briefly you could see they had their own personalities and backgrounds
- The love story was slow-burn but it was SO good. I’m not usually a fan of slow (I love seeing characters be in a relationship) but the way you could just see Rosa falling in love bit by bit was adorable
- An accurate representation of what planning for the future is like, meaning, chaotic and not totally up to you
Obviously I loved this book and I’d recommend everyone to give it a read because it’s sweet and heartbreaking and hopeful and lovely.
Organized, overachieving and Anxious (TM), she is a good model of what being the descendant of immigrants is like. She takes on far too much and tries to fix the world as an excuse to ignore her personal problems. I believe she’s the most relatable character I’ve ever read
Mimi is the quintessential latina grandmother, she knows how to cook so you’ll always want more, how to give you peace of mind with a few words, how to heal any and all ailments, and how to stress you the fuck out with a single word. She is a good woman who went through a lot and deserves all the respect, this doesn’t mean she didn’t make mistakes, just that she had her reasons.
She is the kind of friend everyone wants to have, supportive, understanding, and someone who knows when to push you. She knows how to talk to Rosa and doesn’t bother sugar-coating stuff, Ana knows her best friend
Ana wasn’t soft but she tried when I needed it
Listen, this boy was made from my hopes and dreams, okay? He’s a hot sailor with badass tattoos who bakes and knows how to make dulce de leche. I was in love far before Rosa even entertained the idea. I loved how delicate he was with her, though, how he knew to give Rosa the space she needed to figure everything out and never pushed too far too fast.
There’s a hundred things I want to bake you now
Still, he incites Rosa to take risks and get out of her comfort zone (he’s the very description of “out of Rosa’s comfort zone” tbh) and I’m of the opinion that a partner should always challenge you (to a reasonable degree)
This was a fascinating character, as Rosa remarks in the book, latina moms are usually a very present figure and like to take care of everything so to have one who just leaves and comes back irregularly is interesting. It’s obvious, once you get more into the book why she did so, imagine having to live in a town where the person you love sailed off and never came back and everybody kinda thought it was your fault. I’m not so sure about the way she dealt with Rosa, though.
Firstly, I believe she did the right thing by leaving ehr in Port Coral. As someone who grew up moving around I know how hard it is for a kid to have no stability and even though it hurt her, Liliana could see that and was strong enough to leave Rosa with her mother. However, she should have kept up a steady communication with her family. I get it if she didn’t want to talk with Mimi but Rosa needed her and she wasn’t available.
I know he doesn’t have a central part in the story but I loved all his conversations with Rosa, he’s the dumb teenage boy Rosa is meant to interact with and it’s pure gold.
“Having a crush on him would be a terrible idea”
“And yet here we are”
WHERE DO I START
From the writing, which was light and beautiful at the same time, to the characterization, which was realistic and consistent, to the diverse representation. Everything.
There’s a few scenes that I wanna highlight, though
The Birthday Dinner
The way the three women react to the news and how Rosa studiously doesn’t cry. Even when she feels like her whole future has broken into pieces
I grieved for a future that had never been mine
Everything Mimi says is something I’ve personally felt in regards of my own country.
Maybe it’s because I love sailing but this is my favorite part in the entire book, it’s so freeing and you can almost feel the wind in your face and the sea splashing against the boat. It’s also one of the funniest parts.
“It’s fine, just to balance us out.” I was going to die today.
It actually made me cry in public multiple times. It wasn’t only when Mimi died, though that was a fun thing to listen to on a train at 7 am, it was the all too familiar feeling of searching for a home you had never known but had heard stories about all your life; only to realise it’s just another place and it doesn’t actually belong to you–
On a less serious note: Mimi always cheered against Argentina during
soccer football matches, I get it though (everyone is salty we are the best…)
Another detail that caught my attention was that Rosa is mentioned to have brown skin, however on the cover we have a white girl. There are white cubans, obviously, but the story says that Rosa is drak skined so it bothers me that the publisher decided to have a white model instead.
I was never getting out of the kid’s table. I took the cookie.
Your diaspora dream has always been to grow up and stop questioning whether you are latina enough or deserving of what Mimi lost.
I wondered over the touchstones and talismans we all carried and the energy they held from enough handling and hoping.
Words were islands that sank into silence like forgotten songs
Does pain feel lighter where hehe were more hands to carry it?
Well this is an island, sometimes you have to go back to move forward.