by Laura Taylor Namey
Publication date: November 10, 2020
**I received a copy of the book from Netgalley for an honest review.**
After devastating changes in her life, Lila is forced to take a one-way flight to stay with her Aunt Cate in Winchester, England. Despite her initial hesitation and desire to return home to Miami, Lila starts to appreciate the town. Not only is she making new friends, but she’s also sharing her love of cooking, creating a new community that begins to rival the one at home.
A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow is so many things. It’s about family. It’s about culture. It’s about loss in its many forms. It’s about reconciling the changes that come with growing up, growing apart, and ultimately growing into the unexpected. There is so much packed into this novel but it’s ultimately Lila’s resilience that will leave a lasting impact.
When we meet Lila, she’s broken and still reeling at the unfairness of being forced to spend summer away from the city and the people she loves. But little by little, through cooking and baking, she begins to carve a place for herself in a town that is so different from Miami and yet begins to call to her in a similar way. Despite the challenges and the changes in her life, she trusts in her skills, allowing her to successfully fuse English and Cuban flavors into her culinary creations. When she allows her certainty in the kitchen to trickle into the rest of her life, we finally get to see the Lila that she was…but now a bit wiser.
While it’s a guide to tea and tomorrow, I found more tomorrow than tea, and Lila’s guidance about tomorrow is immeasurable. A traditional recipe that has been perfected may produce the same flavors to a tee (pun intended…hehehe) but sometimes accommodations have to be made; experimentation may be necessary to discover new and possibly better flavors. Lila’s experiences allowed me to reflect on my own life, and I am all the better for it.
A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow enfolds you like the wool knit sweaters Lila wears, warm and comforting even if a little prickly at first. Once you settle into it, you wonder how you might survive without it. When I finished reading, I felt a sense of loss in having to say goodbye to Lila and Winchester. The introspection it provided was invaluable. I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend reading it with a cup of tea–my favorite, mint steeped 3-5 minutes with water at full boil–and a warm blanket, making sure a pastelito isn’t too far away.