Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey

Cover Art

A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey
Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: November 10, 2020
ISBN: 978-1534471245 

Cuban-American Lila Reyes is grief-stricken after the death of her abuela and breakups with her best friend and her boyfriend. Her parents send her from vibrant, sunny Miami to gloomy old England for a change of scenery and a chance to heal, but Lila has a plan for her life, and it involves running the family bakery with her sister after high school instead of summer at her cousins’ English inn. Determined not to enjoy herself, Lila nevertheless cannot resist the call of the inn’s kitchen, which dares her to mix Cuban spice with traditional British baking. Soon, a group of friends (including the cute, thoughtful boy whose family owns the village tea shop) makes life in England not only bearable but thoroughly enjoyable. Now Lila is doing more than falling in love with her new home — she’s questioning everything she thought she knew and everything she thought she wanted.    

Lila is a realistic teen character — stubborn as hell (she spite-packs, insisting on a summer Miami wardrobe for her trip to England), self-destructive, and wallowing in her own self-pity even as she deals with real issues of change, grief, and loss. Lila’s change of heart happens naturally and authentically over the course of this well-paced, descriptive story with a strong sense of place and delightful supporting characters. Readers will come for the slow-burn romance and stay for the delicious descriptions of Cuban food, the charming English village setting, and the lyrical writing that’s just a touch more poetic and complex than the average YA novel. 

Give to teens who binge all the Netflix cooking shows and obsess over “The Great British Baking Show.” Books like Acevedo’s With the Fire on High, Masood’s More Than Just a Pretty Face, Mills’ Tweet Cute, and graphic novel Bloom (written by Kevin Panetta and illustrated by Savanna Ganucheau) also feature teens who love to cook or bake and are dealing with the shifting relationships and changing plans that come with the end of high school.  

Kali Olson

Other Nominated Titles 

  • Love in English by Maria E. Andreu (February 2, 2021)
  • The Awakening of Malcolm X by Ilyasah Shabazz and Tiffany D. Jackson (January 5, 2021)

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the field nomination form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination. 

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will use that list of nominated titles to select a final list and Top Ten. The previous years’ lists are also made available on The Hub.