A Cuban Girl’s Guide To Tea & Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (Simon Teen)
Release Date: November 10, 2020
Available Through Bookshop
Cover Illustrator: Andrea Porretta
Summary: 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.
My Rating: ★★★★☆
My Thoughts: A Cuban Girl’s Guide To Tea And Tomorrow is a cozy, foodie YA romance that at its core is about overcoming grief and discovering one’s self. Lila’s summer in England is filled with friendship, love, and lots of baking! This was a sweet standalone story about healing and the power of delicious pastries!
Firstly, let me just say I know its been quite a bit since I’ve been blogging and interacting with you all, I’ve missed it honestly. However, its been important for me to take time time for my mental health, but having read this book back in September I just could not leave this review in the drafts and taking time to reflect on this book made it more impactful for me the more I thought about a major theme and idea surrounding Lila’s story: healing.
I knew going into this book that I would enjoy it and I’d been meaning to read Namey’s books for quite a while, but ultimately what stuck with me was seeing Lila Reyes journey (notably called the trifecta) from her beloved abuela passing, her best friend leaving to losing her boyfriend, the Reyes family felt it was best to send her to England during the summer not only to figure things out, but also for her mental health. In the beginning you can understand her frustrations in being forced to leave her Miami life and her cherished family bakery. However, as Lila starts finding her footing in the England atmosphere and using her impressive baking skills to keep herself busy, she soon realizes that she may not want to leave as soon as she thought.
Through the power of baking and delicious Cuban cooking, this story made it especially clear at how food can help one heal, but also bring people together. I loved that through Lila’s love of Cuban cuisine and pastries, I saw my own Latine culture shine through in the smallest of details: the important role of family in one’s life and all those little moments that just felt recognizable.
Baking is a big part of who Lila is which definitely leaves you craving delicious desserts, pastries and treats. From her expertise to the details that make their way into the writing, the baking and foodie elements deliver a cozy feel to the story as well.
Namey made Lila’s England summer feel so fleshed out, taking time to focus on all the personal, emotional layers to her story where your left understanding all of her hopes, desires, fears and goals for the future. Lila takes time to develop some new friendships and you see how her blossoming relationship with local tea-shop owner and designated guide Orion Maxwell, helps her see things from a new perspective. This was also a rather random detail, but I appreciated that Lila’s relatives and new friends have established loves outside of the main story making it feel that much more real: the band, Orion’s family business and his mother’s story, the tea shop, the Owl & Crow Inn, etc.
Lila and Orion’s relationship was also the most adorable? I loved that there was so much care put into developing each of them and their own stories, but you also see how well they fit together. Lila finds her place in the Owl & Crow Inn kitchen baking and bringing her own influences to the food, but along the way it was fun to see her adapt to the English cuisine to bring both of these perspectives together. Orion is quite knowledgeable about tea and a very cute moment was him trying to figure out Lila’s perfect tea flavor.
While there’s a lot I loved about this book I would have enjoyed just a bit more scenes of baking (they were some of my favorite scenes) and more Lila/Orion adventures because they were cute together and were just fun to read. I also found that Orion’s friends felt just a tad underdeveloped *for me personally and would have preferred more scenes between Orion and Lila. But overall, what makes this novel such a thoughtful read is how its a story about overcoming grief and figuring out the next step.
This was a YA both equally sweet and emotional that truly shows Lila grow throughout the story! Was not expecting the book to make me even more emotional as I neared the end and tbh I WISH this had a sequel because reflecting on the entire story as a whole just left me smiling a whole lot ❤
A Cuban Girl’s Guide To Tea And Tomorrow delivers a heartfelt story about overcoming grief, figuring out where you want to be and the power of good food! Filled with friendship, a cute romance, and lots of meaningful messages, this is a sweet YA Contemporary that left my heart overflowing with many emotions and I had the best time reading this!