Cover of A Cuban Girl's Guide to Tea and Tomorrow, featuring an illustrated girl and boy sitting on a picnic blanket in a park

About the Book

Title: A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow
Published: 2020
Swoonworthy Scale: 9

Cover Story: Picnic Perfect
BFF Charm: Eventually
Talky Talk: Full of Flavor
Bonus Factors: Tasty Business, English Town
Relationship Status: Swooning

Content Warning: Lila deals with the grief her grandmother’s death, as well as situations of loss of a boyfriend and best friend, in A Cuban Girl’s Guide that might be tough and/or triggering for some readers.

Cover Story: Picnic Perfect

The last three books I’ve reviewed are contemporaries with illustrated meet-cute covers. This one’s my favorite, I think, because the idea of a picnic in a park in an idyllic English city is 100% my jam. Plus, the looks in the characters’ eyes are already bringing the swoon.

The Deal:

Lila Reyes has experienced what she’s calling the Trifecta of loss: first, her beloved grandmother dies; second, her perfect boyfriend dumps her; and third, her best friend makes life-changing plans without talking to her. Lila’s family sees her struggling, and so sends her—against her wishes—for a “respite” in England with some extended family. Lila’s set to hate everything about the trip, but then she gets to work in the kitchen of her family’s inn … and meets Orion Maxwell, the son of the owner of the local tea shop.

BFF Charm: Eventually

BFF Charm with a sweatband on

Lila’s experienced a lot in a few short months, and as someone who’s had a pretty terrible 2020—as I’m sure a lot of you can commiserate with—I feel her pain. I also understand the need to drive the feelings away, even if it would be more healthy to deal with them. (I don’t have a family who wants to send me for a long vacation in England, but I digress.) As she spends time in England, she learns a lot about herself and realizes that even though the three events happened in quick succession, they weren’t all surprises. And I dig how much she learns about herself and grows throughout the book. I don’t think we’d be friends at the start, but I’d certainly be honored to be a part of the found family she finds while in England.

Swoonworthy Scale: 9

Orion Maxwell is a tall, lithe English bloke with slightly curly hair and piercing eyes. He sets out to show Lila the sights without much pretense and quickly works his way into her life and her heart. But he’s never pushy; they both know that Lila’s trip wasn’t one-way. And yet … The boy even sets out to find her favorite type/blend of tea. Definitely deserving of at least a nomination for the Book Boyfriend Hall of Fame!

Talky Talk: Full of Flavor

In A Cuban Girl’s Guide, Namey mixes elements of her Cuban heritage with a very different suburban English lifestyle, but the two go together like a cuppa and pastelito de guayaba (or guava pastry). Like Lila, I thought her transition to England from Miami, from a neighborhood who knew everything about her and gossiped about her life to a town in which she was a stranger, would be more difficult. But Namey seamlessly transitions between the two locations and the two parts of Lila’s story. She doesn’t back away from focusing on the hurt, but at the same time, she shows a growth in Lila that’s believable and feels very realistic for a young woman in her position.

Her worldbuilding is also wonderful. Both the West Dade neighborhood and close-knit family life Lila has at home in Miami and the life she builds in the quiet town of Winchester, England are painted like pictures, from the sheer wall of humidity that hits people in Florida to the clean, crisp UK air. This book made me both hungry and wanderlusty, and I both hate it and love it for that.

(Check out more of Namey’s thoughts on the book in her recent Between Two Lockers interview!)

Bonus Factor: Tasty Business

Tea kettle and teacup with pink and chocolate cupcakes

Lila’s an accomplished baker and cook, and spends much of the book baking and/or cooking. My mouth was watering the entire time. And then there’s Orion, who works in his family’s tea shop, the depictions of which are equally mouth-watering. I finished the book a couple days ago and am still thinking about how much I want all of the food and drink mentioned in it.

Bonus Factor: English Town

A bridge and water next to an old building in Bath, England

I’ve only been to England once, and spent most of our time in and around London. So I’ve really not experienced all that the country has to offer. I plan to go back someday—you know, when we’re allowed and it’s safe—and might just have to visit Winchester when I do!

Relationship Status: Swooning

You were seriously adorable, Book, and you made me swoon for book boyfriends, food, and locations—three of my favorite things. I think we’ve got something here. Can we meet again for tea?

Literary Matchmaking

Instant Karma (Fortuna Beach #1)

Marissa Meyer’s Instant Karma features a little more magical realism but also with a young woman learning more about herself and the people in her life.


Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything

Raquel Vasquez Gilliland’s Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything also features a lot of culture and a ship between two very different people.

Serious Moonlight

And all of Jenn Bennett’s books, including Serious Moonlight, bring the swoon.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Atheneum Books for Young Readers, but got neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow is available now.

Mandy (she/her) is a manager at a tech company who lives in Austin, TX, with her husband, son, and dogs. She loves superheroes and pretty much any show or movie with “Star” in the name.