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Make Your Home Among Strangers Summary and Reviews

Make Your Home Among Strangers

by Jennine Capó Crucet

Make Your Home Among Strangers by Jennine Capó Crucet X
Make Your Home Among Strangers by Jennine Capó Crucet
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  • Published in USA  Aug 2015
    400 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

Lizet, a daughter of Cuban immigrants and the first in her family to graduate from high school, secretly applies and is accepted to an ultra-elite college. Her parents are furious at her decision to leave Miami, and amid a painful divorce, her father sells her childhood home, leaving Lizet, her mother, and older sister, a newly single mom - without a steady income and scrambling for a place to live.

Amidst this turmoil, Lizet begins college, but the privileged world of the campus feels utterly foreign to her, as does her new awareness of herself as a minority. Struggling both socially and academically, she returns home for a Thanksgiving visit, only to be overshadowed by the arrival of Ariel Hernandez, a young boy whose mother died fleeing with him from Cuba on a raft. The ensuing immigration battle puts Miami in a glaring spotlight, captivating the nation and entangling Lizet's entire family.

Pulled between life at college and the needs of those she loves, Lizet is faced with hard decisions that will change her life forever. Her urgent, mordantly funny voice leaps off the page to tell this moving story of a young woman torn between generational, cultural, and political forces; it's the new story of what it means to be American today.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. This debut novel from Crucet (How to Leave Hialeah, 2009) heralds the birth of a talented novelist to watch." - Kirkus

"Told largely in flashback by an older and wiser Lizet, this coming-of-age story achieves a wry and wistful tone. Debut novelist Crucet depicts with insight and subtlety the culture shock, confusion, guilt, and humiliations of the first-generation college student surrounded by privilege." - Library Journal

"Jennine Capó Crucet's sharply observed first novel captures the profound disorientation of leaving the world that reared you: once you have made your home among strangers, home itself often transforms into a strange place. Recounted with wry humor and heartbreaking honesty, Lizet's struggle is a poignant exploration of a young woman's evolving relationship to her culture, her family, and her own identity." - Celeste Ng, author of Everything I Never Told You

"Make Your Home Among Strangers is a vivid, exuberant novel begging to devoured in one sitting.Hilarious and relentlessly honest, our narrator Lizet is the embodiment of the guilt, anger, and chronic homesickness so often the side effects of being educated away from who you once were. Hers is an utterly American story, yet one hardly told, and Jennine Capó Crucet tells it with a combination of wisdom and urgency that is as rare as it is invigorating." —Claire Vaye Watkins, author of Battleborn

"Anyone who has read Jennine Capó Crucet's story collection, How to Leave Hialeah, knows that she is a wonderful writer. Still, I was unprepared for the power of her debut novel, Make Your Home Among Strangers, which I found wise and honest, a love letter to Miami that doubles as a furious and funny manifesto about cultural and familial expectations." - Lauren Groff, author of The Monsters of Templeton and Arcadia

"Make Your Home Among Strangers is a gorgeous, sad, and poignantly hysterical exploration of what it means to be homesick for a place that doesn't exist...Crucet is a distinct and important voice, and this novel is both a profound pleasure to read and a painful reminder of the real human costs of living in two places at once." - Danielle Evans, author of Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self, winner of the 2011 PEN American Robert W. Bingham Prize

"Crucet's first novel is a masterpiece of contemporary fiction that dramatizes the intersection of race, class, geography, and education and shows the effects of being American on the human heart. Crucet manages the layers of self and emotion of her characters with wisdom and intelligence to create a commanding, urgent coming-of-age story. First class work." - David Treuer, author of Rez Life: An Indian's Journey Through Reservation Life and Little

"Crucet brilliantly brings to life the experience of a first-generation college student navigating an all-too-realistic elite school in an age where diversity initiatives do little to offset the air of privilege that permeates its halls, customs and - especially - its dormitories. Lizet is a heroine who is not only thoroughly believable but one we can't help but root for." - Adelle Waldman, author of The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.

The information about Make Your Home Among Strangers shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

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Maggie R. (Canoga Park, CA)

Don't Miss This Book
As a 70 year old reader, I'm often a bad fit for "coming of age" fiction. Lately, however, I've been moved by such novels as The Goldfinch and The Marriage Plot whose complex characters are struggling with weighty and ambivalent situations, make terrible choices but soldier on and find some kind of light at the end (middle?) of the tunnel.

Here's another one - and how! Lizet and her family are maddeningly real. Her life remains up for grabs. It's she in fact self centered as her mother sees her? Selfish as her sister claims? There is an abundance of miscommunication involving everyone in her life. Read this book! It's going to be big.

The writing never falters. I look forward to reading Jennine Capo Cruzet's short fiction, How to Leave Hialeah.

Susan S. (Lafayette, CA)

An eye-opener and a good read
This is an extremely entertaining and smart book about a young woman from Miami, the daughter of Cuban immigrants, who is the first person in her family to go to college and also the first person from her public high school to apply to and be accepted at the fictional Ivy League college in upstate New York. At her university we see that she struggles with being something of a fish out of water - she does not always understand the rules and mores, while the university administration and the other students make incorrect assumptions about her. But in addition, she also no longer really fits in at home with her family, where they have no comprehension of her new life. The book was quite an eye-opener for me, as it brought up issues I had never thought about, and it is also just a good read.

Nancy F. (Carmel, IN)

Loved the "tongue in cheek" humor!
This is the first novel in awhile that I just laughed out loud!
The author's ability to create scenes that are far from my middle class experiences in life were amazing. I enjoyed getting to "know" Lizet and felt great empathy as she attempted to fit in to another world. This novel helped me realize and become more aware of the cultural divide we have in this country.

Terrie J. (Eagan, MN)

A great novel debut
I really enjoyed this book. It combined history (Ariel Hernandez arriving from Cuba) with a young woman's story of leaving home and struggling with college due to an inferior high school education. There were family struggles, friendship collisions and a young love gone awry. The characters were so real and varied - they held your interest throughout the book. I couldn't wait to see how the different character's stories would play out. The end was a surprise to me. I would highly recommend this book.

Sally H. (Geneva, OH)

Make Your Home Among Strangers
In her debut novel, Crucet wrestles with illegal immigration, cultural differences and expectations, family dysfunction and loyalty, and issues encountered by low-income students attending expensive, prestigious schools and by first-generation Americans who are the first in their families to attend college - - and masterfully weaves it all into a memorable story. She shows us that although we are all products of our upbringing, it is possible, sometimes inevitable, and often desirable to move beyond what we came from. Hers is a talent to watch, and I am already anxiously awaiting her next book. I plan to put Make Your Home Among Strangers on my book club's list for 2016.

Sharon B. (Rome, GA)

Make Your Home Among Strangers
Lizet Ramirez is a first-generation Cuban American, the daughter of parents who fled the Communist Castro regime to a new life among strangers in the United States. She is the first in her family to go to college and the first from her Miami high school to be admitted to an elite northern college. Her struggles and experiences during her freshman year coincide with a major news event in her old neighborhood – the rescue of a young boy from the waters of the Atlantic Ocean after his mother drowns in her attempt to escape from Cuba. This part of the novel is based on the true story of Elian Gonzalez but his name has been changed to Ariel Hernandez in the book. Lizet is torn between loyalty to her family and forging a new life and identity for herself. This was an interesting book, full of imperfect but likeable characters. The author realistically portrayed the difficult decisions and conflicting emotions of a young woman who is moving beyond her family and upbringing to a more educated and professional existence, once again among strangers.

...22 more reader reviews

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