Beautifully written and brimming with love and acceptance.

A high school senior feels pressured to give up her passion for baking to achieve her immigrant parents’ Ivy League dream for her.

Aware of all the sacrifices her Cuban parents make to send her to an exclusive Catholic school in Orange County, Rubi Ramos works hard to try to get into Alma, an elite university that represents the American dream to her family. Though they own two successful bakeries, Rubi’s parents, especially her mother, are single-mindedly determined that their daughter become a lawyer someday. But while Rubi kicks butt as captain of her high school’s debate team, her heart truly lies in concocting new pastries and connecting with her Cuban heritage through her family’s special recipes. When Rubi is wait-listed by Alma but accepted into a prestigious baking contest, she struggles with making herself a competitive candidate on both fronts—while keeping it all a secret for fear of disappointing her parents. Rubi, whose father is Afro-Cuban, confronts racism and classism, particularly from a White peer who is jealous of her success. Readers will cheer for Rubi as she stands up for herself and reconciles her parents’ priorities with her dreams. Mouthwatering descriptions of food and Rubi’s blossoming romance with her supportive math tutor further sweeten this thoughtful, joyful coming-of-age story.

Beautifully written and brimming with love and acceptance. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: May 16, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-86252-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2023


There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013


An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away.

A Mexican American boy takes on heavy responsibilities when his family is torn apart.

Mateo’s life is turned upside down the day U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents show up unsuccessfully seeking his Pa at his New York City bodega. The Garcias live in fear until the day both parents are picked up; his Pa is taken to jail and his Ma to a detention center. The adults around Mateo offer support to him and his 7-year-old sister, Sophie, however, he knows he is now responsible for caring for her and the bodega as well as trying to survive junior year—that is, if he wants to fulfill his dream to enter the drama program at the Tisch School of the Arts and become an actor. Mateo’s relationships with his friends Kimmie and Adam (a potential love interest) also suffer repercussions as he keeps his situation a secret. Kimmie is half Korean (her other half is unspecified) and Adam is Italian American; Mateo feels disconnected from them, less American, and with worries they can’t understand. He talks himself out of choosing a safer course of action, a decision that deepens the story. Mateo’s self-awareness and inner monologue at times make him seem older than 16, and, with significant turmoil in the main plot, some side elements feel underdeveloped. Aleman’s narrative joins the ranks of heart-wrenching stories of migrant families who have been separated.

An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5605-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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