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Make Your Home Among Strangers
400 pages; St. Martin's Press
In Jennine Capó Crucet's winning debut novel, young Lizet, a Miami native and the daughter of Cuban immigrants, is accepted at the exclusive Rawlings College in upstate New York. There, the landscape is foreign—snow—and the students are astonishingly oblivious of their privilege. Lizet is unprepared for the college's rigors and torn back home to Miami where her father has left the family, and her mother is embroiled as an activist for (real-life) Ariel Hernandez, a Cuban boy whose mother died on the raft that brought them both to America. A smart, complicated bildungsroman about the change in Lizet's consciousness, she encounters the larger, indifferent world, Crucet builds two very different universes in Florida and New York, revealing the human cost of displacement through bewitching prose: "They knew what me going away signified," she writes, "but hadn't said anything because they just didn't know what to say."
— Elisabeth Donnelly


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