Don't Date Rosa Santos

Don't Date Rosa Santos

by Nina Moreno


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For fans of GILMORE GIRLS and TO ALL THE BOYS I'VE LOVED BEFORE, this effervescent love story from debut author Nina Moreno will sweep you away.

Rosa Santos is cursed by the sea-at 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 cursed. Caught 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. 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 collides-literally-with 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?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781368039703
Publisher: Disney Press
Publication date: 05/14/2019
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 76,748
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Nina Moreno is a YA writer whose writing is somewhere between Southern fiction and a telenovela. She graduated from the University of Florida and writes about Latinas chasing their dreams, falling in love, and navigating life in the hyphen. She lives by a swamp outside of Orlando where she enjoys listening to carefully curated playlists, hunting through thrift stores, drinking too much Cuban coffee, and walking into the sea every chance she gets. DON'T DATE ROSA SANTOS is her first novel.

Read an Excerpt


The Santos women never go to the sea.

Once upon a lifetime ago a pregnant woman escaped Cuba with her husband by climbing into a boat he had built in secret with nothing but scrap and desperate hope. They left an entire life in the dead of night. They were still too late. The storm was sudden and violent, and the baby could not wait. As he fought a raging sea, she screamed into the angry winds and pulled her wailing daughter from her body.

When Milagro Santos reached the other side, it was only with her newborn baby.

My mom grew up in a new land and despite warnings, dared to love a boy who loved the sea. But the day before her eighteenth birthday, a spring storm formed out in open waters and shattered another dream. My father's boat was found but never his body. Mom waited at the dock, her screams etched into the town's memories as she clutched her middle, me growing inside.

That was the sea for us. And I am the bridge meant to grow big enough to span their tragedies. The lullaby of my life is that to know the sea is to know love, but to love us is to lose everything. We're cursed, they still whisper, but by an island, the sea, or our own stubborn hearts, I don't know.

* * *

"It's now or never." Ana-Maria sat on top of my desk as I paced the floor in front of her. She held up her phone and started the timer. I already wanted to quit this entire exercise in favor of verbally throwing up everything I'd been keeping to myself for months.

"So, I think I've picked my college —"

Ana was already shaking her head. "Don't say 'I think.' You picked it. Be assertive or she won't take you seriously."

I bounced my shoulders in an effort to loosen up. My abuela wasn't even in the room, but my pulse was already hammering wildly. "Okay. Here it is, Mimi. I picked my college."

"¡Que bueno!" Ana trilled in a thick Cuban accent that sounded frighteningly similar to my abuela.

"But it's out of state."

Ana let out a wail of despair. She was really getting into this. "Ay, mi amor, why do you want to leave me?"

I rolled my eyes at her. "It's only two states away. But I picked it because it has a study-abroad program —"

Ana sat up in a dramatic huff. "¿Como? A different country? ¡Eso no es college!"

I pinched the top corners of my blouse and pulled the fabric away from my already sweat-dampened skin. "It is college. They're actual classes with real credits that count toward my degree. And the program I've applied to ..." I paused and Ana nodded. I squared my shoulders. "The program is in Cuba."

The College of Charleston accepted my transfer application last week. Right after I got that email I celebrated by silently screaming in my bedroom before applying to their study-abroad program. A whole semester at the University of Havana. I would sit in on lectures taught by Cuban professors. There would be excursions and cultural visits. Old Havana, Vinales, Santiago. My Spanish would get better. I would have my own stories from the island that, for so long, had been an heirloom I couldn't touch.

Of course the program was expensive, but there wasn't time to hesitate. I was running against a clock ruled by politicians. I had financial aid, scholarships, and a shoebox of savings from working at the bodega. An education visa was one of the only ways to legally travel there now, and I didn't have family waiting for me in Cuba, so school was the answer.

At my declaration, Ana gasped and pushed herself off the desk, knocking me aside. She clutched her chest and crashed backward onto the bed, my throw pillows falling over the side. The performance was worthy of a telenovela. I sighed and dropped my hands to my hips. "And I suppose this is where my long-lost sister bursts into the room and tells me she's stealing my inheritance."

"Or better yet, your long-lost mother." It was just a joke, but it hit a nerve like always. If Mom still lived here fulltime, maybe I wouldn't be so freaked out about telling Mimi I wanted to live and learn in the country she'd fled. I'd have a buffer for once, since Mom usually made Mimi mad enough to forget everything else.

Ana stood and grabbed me by the shoulders. Ana-Maria was Afro-Latina, and her parents were also from Cuba. Mrs. Peña left the island as a young child, when family in the States had the money and ability to claim them, but Mr. Peña escaped as a teen. Now they were here, together. My best friend was surrounded by cousins and siblings and didn't yearn to understand our island like I did. At least not outwardly. "You're as ready as your anxiety and many family issues will allow you to be," Ana offered with a loving squeeze as she pushed me out the door. "Go get 'em, tiger."

It was Friday evening at the Santos house, so I knew exactly where my abuela would be: sitting at our tiny laundry room window on the east side of our house, between two lemon trees, where neighbors came in search of answers, guidance, and a little bit of magic. The neighborhood curandera oversaw concerns about struggling gardens, bad dreams, career changes, and terrible luck, and she brewed hope from her window that smelled like herbs and dryer sheets.

I found her there now, corking a bottle. On the other side of the window stood our neighbor Dan carrying a baby in his arms. Dan and his husband, Malcolm — my college advisor and dual-enrollment guiding wizard — had recently finalized the adoption of their daughter, Penny. Mimi shook the bottle and studied the liquid against candlelight.

"What's the matter?" I asked Dan, momentarily distracted by the dark circles beneath his eyes. A paramedic currently on paternity leave, Dan handled his sleepless shifts pretty well, but he looked ready to fall over.

"Penny is teething," he said around a yawn. "And Malcolm's still at work, neck deep in appointments and paperwork right now." Malcolm was the most sought after advisor at Port Coral Community College. He had a calm, thoughtful way about him and looked strikingly like Idris Elba. "But 'tis the season of college app deadlines."

"Why don't you just come inside?" I asked. Dan's family regularly came over for dinner.

"Because Mimi is working, and I won't make her play favorites like Malcolm does with you. Speaking of, didn't you —"

"See him earlier today? Why, yes. Yes, I did." Behind Mimi's back, I shot Dan a wide-eyed look. I'd met with Malcolm to see if we could find any last-minute scholarships for my study-abroad program. Dan was too tired to catch on immediately. I cocked my head toward Mimi meaningfully until his drowsy gaze was finally replaced by a look of surprise. Everyone was shocked I hadn't told Mimi yet. But they didn't understand what it meant to talk to Mimi about Cuba.

"For you," Mimi said, ignoring us, as she handed Dan a tall, skinny blue bottle. "Drink it with tea one hour before bedtime."

"Bedtime?" Dan asked. "We've never heard of her." Penny laughed and kicked her feet.

Mimi grabbed a smaller bottle, its contents a golden-buttery color. She popped the top, and I caught the scent of apple pie. "For Penny and her gums. Pero un momento, I have something else for her, too." Mimi shuffled past me.

Dan held Penny as they waited on the other side of the window. His eyes fluttered closed. Penny grabbed his cheeks with a happy smack.

"I'll be right back," I told them and hurried after Mimi.

"Stir the sopa for me," she called over her shoulder as she moved through the warmly lit kitchen. It was usually only ever the two of us, but the house always made it feel like it was filled with more. More light, more people, more love. I lifted the lid of the pot on the stove and inhaled deeply. The stories about Mimi's soup ranged from bringing people back from the brink of death to healing broken hearts. The secret was in the caldo, which was carefully nurtured with herbs, vegetables, and bones. I stirred the simmering liquid and took another fortifying breath. "Mimi?"

"Aquí," she called from farther in the house.

I replaced the lid and went to stand at the threshold of her garden room on the far side of the kitchen. It was a terrible idea to try and talk to her while she was working, but I wanted to get this over with.

"Where are you?"

"Here!" she called again, but I still didn't see her. The space was technically called a Florida room and was meant for lounging with a cold glass of sweet tea. Mimi turned it into a greenhouse. Breezy and warm even when the windows were closed, it was the beating heart of our home. Lush green plants stretched and swayed in their pots. Well-read books and bottles filled with medicines and potions lined the shelves. There was a wooden-and-steel wind chime that was steady when the day was nice, a little wilder with the rain, and as agitated as a scared kid when bad luck was coming. It was our safe, protected garden that sometimes growled like a tropical jungle. We lived in Port Coral, Florida, but this was Mimi's island now.

She popped out from between palm fronds, smiling. In her hands she carried a blue blanket — the color of a cloudless summer sky — that shimmered in the light. I slid my palm across the downy-soft fabric, a feeling of contentment stirring in me. Just like her soups. She headed past me, back to her window. I shook off the sunny feelings and followed.

"Mimi, I picked my college," I confessed as she handed the baby blanket to Dan. They both looked at me. Dan was grinning.

"Pero you are already in college?"

"Well, yes, but that's dual enrollment." I was starting to sweat again. For the past two years I'd bussed my way between high school, community college, and summer classes. It hadn't been easy, especially not with my part-time job at the bodega, but now I was only weeks away from graduating with a high school diploma and a two-year degree. This fall I was transferring from our local community college to a university to finish my bachelor's in Latin American Studies.

"Ah, si, I know. Okay, tell me." She crossed her arms, the jangle of her many bracelets as familiar as a song. It was how I learned to find her when she disappeared among her plants. My mouth opened but silence stretched.

Mimi waited. And I couldn't do it.

"If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?" I threw the question out with panicked hands. Dan shook his head.

The candles beside Mimi flickered. "Hawaii," she decided.

"Wait, what?" I hadn't expected that. "Anywhere in the world, Mimi."

"I heard you." She smirked. "I like the Rock. He is very handsome."

Dan laughed. "Can't argue with that."

"But what if you could go to Cuba?"

Her smile disappeared.

Everything I knew about Cuba came from this coastal town, hundreds of miles from the island that was so unknown to me. I met my culture in the food I ate at our table, the songs that played on my abuela's record player, and the stories that flowed through the bodega and Ana-Maria's lively home. But I couldn't find my family in those stories. I couldn't find me.

"I would not go to Cuba," Mimi said simply, like it was enough. My abuela was patient and kind, but at the mention of her island, she became shuttered. So many people came to her asking for so much, and she gave them all answers and hope. But never me about this.

"Thank you for this," Dan said to Mimi. He paid her for the sleepy tea and teething balm. Penny buried her tiny fists into the blanket. He gave me a reassuring smile before heading home.

Mimi began to clean her table. I could smell the soup and hear the hum of music coming from my room.

"But things have changed," I said. Mimi's face jerked back to me. This was my first time pushing this. My racing heart stubbornly knocked at her closed window. "They've been changing for years."

My freshman year I watched my president step off a plane in Havana. Everyone at the bodega had frozen, watching in disbelief. Even at fourteen, I'd never expected to see the waters between us become crossable again. Soon after that I discovered study-abroad programs in Cuba and threw myself into dual enrollment.

Mimi exhaled sharply. "Ay, things change for you, but never for Cuba's people."

The gulf between Cuba and me deepened. "So even if you could go, you'd never return?"

"My spirit will, mi amor." The regret in her voice haunted me like an old ghost. "They care more about tourists than the Cuban people who still suffer. That is the only thing that never changes." Mimi snapped her window closed. She stepped up to me and raised a gentle hand to my cheek. "Where is your college, niña? Somewhere fancy?"

And that was that. I'd expected this. There was no reason to be surprised or disappointed. No reason to cry. "Never mind. I'm actually still deciding," I said, trying to keep my voice neutral.

"Ay, Rosa." Mimi sighed. "You will make a smart decision soon."

Soup simmered, wind chimes sang softly, and candles lit the way back to my room. I was home, and talking about Cuba had no place here. Mimi was never returning, my mother was always leaving, and I was a flightless bird left at her harbor, searching for answers that were buried at the bottom of a sea I could not know.


I opened my bedroom door, and Ana looked up from her phone. Her hopeful smile fell away at my expression. "How'd it go, champ?"

I fell into my desk chair, defeated.

"You gotta tell her soon. You might lose your spot if you don't secure it by May first."

I needed to do a lot of things. I clicked my pen and flipped through my journal. My goals were nicely packaged here. Sketched vines grew between calendar dates and bloomed into flowers. This notebook of doodles and tasks held all my plans that now felt like secrets.

My laptop whistled with a new email. It was just two words — Love you — and a link to a photo album. I glanced over my mother's pictures this week. A cactus in the desert. A sketch of a daydreaming waitress on a diner napkin. A half-finished painting leaning against a brick wall. Next week, I'd likely get pictures showing the progress of that painting and glimpses of wherever my mom went next. I wondered if she would make it back to Port Coral before summer.

Ana's phone rang. "What's up, Mom?" She listened to whatever Mrs. Peña said before sitting up in a huff. "But why do I have to go? ... Okay, okay, fine ... I'll tell them ... Mom, I said, okay! ... I did not raise my voice ... I love you, too." She clicked off and rolled her eyes at me. "Emergency town meeting tonight."

We had meetings once a month, and the last one was only two weeks ago. "What happened?"

"She didn't say, but knowing this town, Simon changed the music at his diner without asking the viejitos. And my mom calls me dramatic."

I got to my feet and checked my reflection in the mirror above my side table and tiny altar. A couple of pastel candles and fresh flowers sat beside a faded sepia picture of my grandfather and the single Polaroid I had of my father. I reapplied my lipstick and popped a strawberry candy in my mouth.

Ana rolled off my bed and followed me out of my room. "Tell Mimi about college in Havana now. She won't yell at you in front of people."

I stopped in the hallway, and Ana stumbled into my back. "What? No way. That's not the plan." Mimi wasn't a yeller anyway. She grew quiet and closed-off when she was upset. Her silence was lethal, and I was desperately trying to avoid it.

"Ah, sweet baby Rosa." It was a lifelong nickname. I hated it.

In the kitchen, we told Mimi about the emergency meeting and helped her pack up the soup, which she insisted on bringing. She hauled the pot from the stove to the table, then rubbed her back where it always seemed to bother her as we grabbed the containers and began filling them. Mimi was always healing others, but it was impossible to get her to visit her own doctor regularly. I didn't know if this was an old folks thing or just a Cuban one, because the viejitos also acted like a person could live forever on coffee, rum, and cigars.

When all the containers were packed, Mimi slid a quick, disapproving glance over my outfit. "Nos vamos. But first, get out of your pajamas."

I grabbed a bag of soups. "These are not my pajamas. It's a romper." I headed past her and out the door, knowing she would follow, bearing potions and opinions like always.

"¿Qué es un romper?" Mimi asked Ana, who laughed.

The town square was only two blocks away, and the April evening was a warm gold as the sun dipped low in the sky. Flowering trees lined sidewalks, and shop doors sang greetings with friendly bells. We headed toward the library's meeting room.

Mimi handed out her soups inside while Ana and I took our seats beside her mother. Mrs. Peña was on break, her apron across her lap and pens still stuck in her curls. We all still called it the bodega, but el Mercado, once a neighborhood quick stop for lotto, snacks, and coffee, had expanded into the bigger grocery and deli restaurant it was now thanks to Mr. Peña's food. He was an amazing cook but hated talking to people, so it was always his wife at these meetings and deli counter.


Excerpted from "Don't Date Rosa Santos"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Nina Moreno.
Excerpted by permission of Disney Book Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Don't Date Rosa Santos 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous 8 months ago
This is a special book. I thought it was just going to be a romance with a Cuban main character (which I was still super hyped for). But, this is a story about a girl trying to relate to her heritage and trying to feel more Cuban while not living there and having a grandmother who won't talk about Cuba. She is also trying to figure out where to go to college and what her future is going to look like. I loved the small town dynamic (think Gilmore Girls, but Latinx) and how everyone is a gossip. The love interest is swoony and Rosa calls him "a Ravenclaw" so many times. Seriously, he reads, bakes, owns a boat, AND has tattoos. I loved the familial relationships. Seeing Rosa's relationship with her grandma was really special. I loved the non translated intermittent Spanish words sprinkled throughout. This book was so much fun to read. I laughed and I cried. Even though my grandparents did not come to America from Cuban (they came from South America), I still could relate to many of Rosa's thoughts and experiences related to being Latinx.
The-Broke-Book-Bank 7 days ago
>Loved it, flew through it. >Very cute and sweet YA romance. It felt pretty shallow to me, w/ no common bond. But it's character growth & plot movement for someone who's been stagnant & reactionary. One of the few times I can remember where I'm rooting for the main couple to amicably settle into friendship & move on eventually. I'd like to see a follow-up with that situation & college TBH. >Love the understated mundane magical realism. >I love the daughter, mother, grandmother dynamic. That's what my family is made of, though we're not cursed as such. >Really felt the push/pull between the generations, the Cuban diaspora. >The Obamas in Cuba.. WOW. I knew it was huge but Rosa describing it made me tear up. >Ending of senior year >Driven academic overachiever planner extraordinaire >Best friend Girl drummer >Sibling teasing >A wedding >Community action >Small businesses >Men baking >Boy with a boat >Almost drowning >Treasure hunt >Conquering fears >Unpacking baggage >Figuring out what you really want >Going for it. >I love the ending. Its trust and freedom, with a buoyant feeling of hope.
THHernandez 4 months ago
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 character 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.
DragonNimbus 6 months ago
I am so grateful for the opportunity to read an ARC of Don't Date Rosa Santos. I would hope I would pick it up in the library or bookstore - I would be sad to have missed it. This is an excellent book on many, many levels. I loved it - I think Rosa Santos goes down as one of my favorite characters of all time. Nina Moreno writes a story steeped in the culture of the Florida Keys and Cuba and introduces many colorful, vivid characters that I find unforgettable. Rosa is 17, graduating high school and also attending online college and avoiding the beach religiously thanks to the family curse. She plans on attending college in South Carolina because of a study abroad program that includes Havana, Cuba. Why Cuba? Its complicated. Rosa lives with Mimi, her Grandmother who came to American after giving birth to her daughter on the crossing from Cuba after losing her husband on the journey to flee a dangerous country. Rosa's mother, lost her love as a pregnant teen when her boyfriend was lost at sea. Since her mother is away most of the time, pursuing her art around the United States, she left Rosa in Port Coral, Florida with Mimi and the extended family of neighbors, friends and a culture rich in folklore, food, and magic.. Circumstances are threatening the marina in Port Coral so Rosa comes up with an idea to have a festival to celebrate the village and save the harbor. It is at a community meeting that Rosa meets the strong, silent and gorgeous Alex Aquino - sailor, baker, and crush. Rosa's mother shows up on the anniversary of Rosa's father's death and sticks around long enough to fight with Mimi and confuse Rosa. Rosa becomes torn between old culture and new, college and new love. Her plans are thrown in to turmoil as a family tragedy changes everything. Rosa has tough choices to make and has to overcome anxieties to grow up quickly. I have to stop writing or I'll tell you the entire book. I plan to get several copies of this book for our school library and urge as many kids to read it as I can. Read it yourself and I'm sure you'll agree with me. Please make sure to read the acknowledgements - Nina Morena writes a heartfelt thank you that just adds to the poignant tale of Rosa and her family.
Take_Me_AwayPH 7 months ago
I knew from just looking at this cover I would love this before I even got my hands on it. And let me tell you, I was exactly right. Dare I say this is my favorite YA contemp of 2019 so far. It was so sweet and I loved almost everything about it. This was definitely a "me" book. Rosa Santos is cursed by the sea. And because of this, dating a boy (or anyone) with a boat is out. But Rosa is hoping to be different. She wants both of those things along with getting to know her culture and knowing more about her mom's and abuela's past.... All things that her abuela has wanted to keep her from doing. But as Rosa's biggest decision gets closer and closer, she realizes she has to do something, no matter what was on the line. I LOVED Rosa! She was funny and was smart. And she had a planner/journal! In a lot of ways her and her family reminded me of me when I was that age. Personality wise, me and Rosa had a lot in common. The other characters were also amazing. Mimi was the sweetest ever and I loved Alex too. Everyone had their own role in the story to help Rosa grow in some way and I loved that everyone was important in their own way. As for the plot, I thought I was in for a super sweet, cute, fluffy book. But it was so much more! I felt so much while reading this and that's how I knew I loved it. At one point I was even crying, which I wasn't expecting to do. I was so into this, and I really hope everyone else is as into this one as me! I also really, really liked the setting. As always, whenever I am reading a book with a setting that is by water, I always remember where I'm from. There were a lot of similarities that it shares, but unlike Rosa I didn't choose to stay away from the water, so for that I couldn't relate. Everything else, like the festival, the salt smell in the air, I completely understood. The last and most important thing I liked about this was the writing style. I found myself sucked into this small Florida town and I didn't want to quit reading. It was hard to believe that Moreno was a debut author. Her words literally "took me away" and it made the story such an easy read to get through. This book checked so many of my "Things that Nikki will like" boxes that I'm not surprised at all that I loved it so much. The romance was cute, characters and setting were amazing, and it was easy to get lost in her words. I loved this one and I can't wait until more have read it and can sing its praises like I've done.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Nina Moreno has a gift with words and can weave them together beautifully. Don't Date Rosa Santos tells the story of a Cuban American girl living in a quaint and quirky Florida town with her abuela and her in-and-out-of-the-picture mother. We follow Rosa's struggles throughout the story -- struggles with choosing a college, navigating the relationship between the women in her family, being pulled into a forbidden romance, wanting to know more about the island her family is from, and trying to find herself. Moreno has a wonderfully descriptive way of writing that allowed me to visualize the characters and the town, hear the music and the sounds, smell and taste the Cuban food. I loved reading this love story to Cuba and family... you will, too!
KimMc 8 months ago
I LOVE this book of heritage, hope and hanging on! “Love and Mother’s (are)n’t simple,” especially when 3 generations of women are fighting a familial curse and making borrowed sacrifices in order to try to be enough. Rosa is a fiercely strong character whose vulnerability is hard to find, but there nonetheless. She is refreshing and sarcastic and brave. Rosa proves that even when you don’t have it all figured out anymore, you can still get back to you. The plot is full of brightly rich culture and of stories that grow upon each other and culminate into a lifetime. Moreno’s writing is fresh, she strings words and phrases together so masterfully that they are given new perspective. Don’t Date Rosa Santos is at times heart wrenching, but it’s also a soul searching, spirit lifting book that will hypnotize you and you won’t want it to end. *I received an arc from the publisher through NetGalley for an honest review
Madeline_S 8 months ago
"This wasn't Cuba, and it wasn't her farm, and so much life and family had been taken from her, but despite loss and a raging sea, she reached the shore with my mother and her story hadn't stopped. She made something real and her life counted here, too." Wow, what a great read! I really loved the amazing family and community dynamics that were so prominent in this story! For a debut author, this was very impressive! Don't Date Rosa Santos is about a girl named (you guessed it) Rosa who has to decide her future, all while dealing with the stress of a wishy-washy mother, a secretive abuela, and a supposed curse that is getting in the way of her love life. What truly shone in this book was the dynamics within Rosa's family, friend group, and community. The sense of support and familiarity with all of the citizens of Port Coral was so pure and wholesome to read about! I loved all of the unique personalities that each person in the story had, and how Rosa's friend group was a more realistic size than how a lot of YA books portray (for example, most books only have the protagonist have one good friend that they hang out with all of the time and no one else. This situation is not very realistic for most people. In this book, Rosa had a best friend that she was the closest with, and then she had a bunch of side friends who she also hung out with. This is how most friend groups are, and the dynamic within this group was really relatable to me and the friend group that I have in real life!). The only downside is that there are so many characters that sometimes you lose track of who people are. However, I still really enjoyed this aspect of the book and would say that the positives outweigh the negatives! Another strong point in this book is the author's lovely, poetic prose! I found it really impressive, especially for a debut author! Needless to say, I really enjoyed and recommend this book! However, there are a few more things that I wish I could have gotten from it. Personally, I really think that this book could have been fleshed out a little more. I feel like things happened a little too quickly sometimes, and because of how quick they would happen they didn't impact me as much as they usually would have. I am primarily talking about the romance, which I feel like needed a bit more developing in order to make it something more memorable. (Not saying I didn't enjoy the romance, but I feel like a lot more could have been done with those two characters!) The same goes for Alex's family, who we got a lot of conflict from that didn't seem quite fully resolved. But, those little things aside, this was a great book! The positives definitely outweigh the negatives on this one. I loved the representation of Latinx characters, and I couldn't recommend this book enough! I hope this review inspires you to pick this one up if you haven't already!
Dmtcer 8 months ago
This is magical book about a young woman. She lives in fictional Port Coral, Florida, where the sea meets the land. Family and local lore surround Rosa; her grandparents escaped Cuba by boat, and her grandmother Milagros gave birth to her mother in the ocean, while losing her husband to the sea. Rosa's own mother lost her beloved to the sea, and Rosa was raised knowing she should never set foot on the wharf or step onto the beach. When she was young, Rosa wandered America with her mother, traveling from one town to the next, until one day she decided she would rather live with her grandmother in Florida. Her mother came and went throughout the years. Rosa is responsible, follows the rules of the family curse, yet she covets a desire to visit Cuba and major in Latin American studies at college. Until the day she meets her own sailor, and the whirlwind begins. Magic and realistic fantasy make up this love story; the love of three women tied to the sea, their love for their adopted hometown, and love all of the people that surround them. Rosa and her Mimi are beloved and admired, but the townspeople are wary of Rosa's mom. Spanish phrases, descriptions of food, herbs, flowers and simple magic embellish the story. Tragedy follows great triumph, and Rosa is left wondering what is real and what is imagined. It's a beautiful story, and the writing is poetic. Descriptions of life in this small Florida seaside town, and of Cuba itself are rich in detail and color. This is a good story to escape the real world for a short time.