English & some Spanish
Cuban-American Culture & Identity
Laura Taylor Namey
Lila has just graduated high school, but things aren’t exactly going how she envisioned them. Instead, Lila has found herself broken up with, her Abuela passed away, and her best friend ditched her unexpectedly. So, Lila’s family has shipped her off to England to stay with family (who own a B&B) for the summer.
Lila’s greatest ambition in life is to be co-owner of their family bakery with her sister Pilar. Now stuck in England, Lila feels like everything is crashing down around her once again. When Lila gets the chance to help in the kitchen, and then takeover production for a few months, things are looking up. There is also a cute boy whose family owns a tea shop that is offering to show her around…
It was once my dream to also co-own a bakery, and it nearly happened. When it didn’t work out, that was ok…because it led me here! What I like very much about this book (besides the fact that I didn’t guess the ending right away, always a good sign!) is Lila’s emotional growth throughout the book. Lila has always felt secure that her Abuela knew everything about baking and cooking, but her entire world is opened up when she begins to bake in England and learn more than the Cuban staples that have previously surrounded her. Lila begins developing her own fusion recipes and finding her culinary voice. This resonated with me and my own meditative process while cooking. Friends and family are always sending me recipes they think I’ll enjoy trying and tinkering with, much like Lila’s mother sending her cans of guava paste to bake with. If you like a fairly quick read that centers on British baking and tea, healing from grief, and social-emotional growth, this one is for you!
This book was kindly sent by Simon & Schuster but all opinions are my own. I decided to make a recipe that my mom texted me a few days ago, accompanied by a “if you make these…save me one!” The first time I make a recipe I follow the directions as-is, and then decide to experiment. Here is the recipe I made, a lovely chocolate potato donut! [Update: the cake recipe is absolutely delicious on the first day, but loses a ton of moisture overnight and it becomes very dry and crumbly. I’m going to start playing with the recipe and will hopefully be able to write down some specific edits in the near future for a moister and fluffier cake that keeps a bit longer.]
Laura Taylor Namey is the New York Times bestselling author of Reese’s Book Club pick A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow, and The Library of Lost Things. A proud Cuban-American, she can be found hunting for vintage treasures and wishing she was in London or Paris. She lives in San Diego with her husband and two children.
This former teacher writes young adult novels featuring quirky teens learning to navigate life and love. She holds a BA in Elementary Education from the University of San Diego and is the winner of the Peggy Miller Award for excellence in young adult fiction. Her third novel is forthcoming from Atheneum Simon and Schuster fall 2021.