Don't Date Rosa Santos

336p. Disney Pr. May 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781368039703.
Gr 9 Up—Rosa Santos has Cuba in her blood. Living in a seaside community in Southern Florida with her abuela, she knows only part of the family stories that tie her to the Caribbean island where her ancestors lived. Both her mother and grandmother have experienced tragedies related to the sea, and they caution Rosa to stay away from the water at all costs. Her mother, an artist who has abandoned Rosa to travel the country, returns intermittently, and though their relationship is strained, Rosa yearns to know more about the woman who gave birth to her. When Rosa encounters Alex, an attractive sailor who works by the docks, she cannot resist his charms and begins to fall for him despite her family's superstitions. As her senior year ends, Rosa struggles to make decisions about college, but one thing continues to influence her choices: her desire to connect to Cuba and her family's past. The teenagers in the book experience conflicts and growing pains, and the Latinx culture of their environment infuses the action with traditions, language, and attitudes that are refreshing. While there is room for more in-depth character and plot development, these deficiencies are easily forgiven in the midst of the vibrant setting.
VERDICT A sweet story that celebrates Latinx culture.

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