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    Fantastic settings, beautiful writing, and amazing

    4.5 Stars. a sweeping tale that takes place over a few short weeks in the spring before Rosa Santo’s graduates and needs to determine what to do with her life. She has a complex history. Her grandmother gave birth on a boat fleeing communist Russia and her grandfather died on the same trip. Rosa’s own father was also taken by the sea when his boat didn’t come back one day. To say she has a healthy respect for the ocean would be an understatement. In fact, she’s never really ventured down to the docks. At least until the harbor in her small Florida town is threatened and Rosa and the rest of the town come together with a plan to save it. This plan introduces her to tall, dark and brooding Alex. Not only is he ridiculously attractive, but he bakes. And he owns a boat. So, whatever feelings Rosa is developing for Alex cannot be acted upon. Because a to love a boy with a boat means to lose him to sea. At least according to the family curse. So when life has a way of disrupting the best of plans, Rosa will need to decide if she’s going to live in her family’s past or forge her own future. Plot The story centers around Rosa’s quest to find out more about who she is. She wants to study in Cuba, but with the current administration making that all but impossible, she turns to her secretive grandmother, with whom she lives, and her mother, who pops in and out of Rosa’s life, for answers. But her grandmother has roots in the old ways, dabbling in santeria and other Cuban customs that include doling out the information slowly. Rosa becomes frustrated and endangers her relationship with her grandmother just as her relationship with Alex takes an interesting but scary twist. Strong themes include family ties, finding yourself, coming of age, and the value of community. Characters Rosa and her family are incredibly detailed. Rosa, her mother, and Mimi, her grandmother, are all complex with rich backstories and fully-developed arcs. The balance of the characters, with the exception of Alex who has is own arc, are merely props to support the main trio. However, they never nosedive into stereotypes. They may have been created to serve a purpose, but they come across as more than just fluff, which is an incredible feat by the author. What I Loved About DON’T DATE ROSA SANTOS! 1. Cuban Culture. I’ll admit to not knowing much about this. My in-laws are of Spanish and Native American descent, but hail from the Southwest, which means their Hispanic culture is a mixed bag. It was fascinating to learn more about Cuba and the Florida Cuban culture. Everything from the food, to rituals, and daily life was vivid and exciting. 2. The Viejitos. The gaggle of retired men and their gossip they share via their Instagram account is both endearing and hysterical. 3. Rosa. She is so complex. The things she wants, what she values, and her desire to not rock the family boat create a deep character who was easy to cheer her on. 4. Alex. He has a bohemian spirit trapped in the body of a loyal son. A romantic at heart, I was rooting for Rosa to give him a chance. 5. The Ending. More than a little confusing at times, I liked that the author left much to the interpretation of the reader. Bottom Line Fantastic settings, beautiful writing, and amazing characters combine for this young adult tale about discovering who you are. Disclaimer I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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