Review: Make Your Home Among Strangers

Make Your Home Among Strangers

Make Your Home Among Strangers
By Jennine Capò Crucet
Picador, 9781250094551, July 2016, 416pp.

The Short of It:

A young woman is pulled between her family at home, her studies at school, and the political turmoil over the forcible removal of a young Cuban boy and his return to his father back in Cuba.

The Rest of It:

Many of you may recall the story of Elián González. He was the center of an international custody battle back in 2000. Make Your Home Among Strangers includes a fictionalized account of his story in the form of Ariel Hernandez.

Lizet is the first in her family to attend college but when she announces her acceptance, she is met with disappointment. Her sister just found out she is pregnant and Lizet’s mother was just left by her husband and the house has been sold out from under her. No one in the family is happy about this turn of events but Lizet is curious about a life outside of what she knows and goes, leaving some bad feelings behind.

At school, Lizet struggles. The schooling she’s had prior to college did not prepare her for the rigorous work that is expected of her. Her ties to home and the guilt she has over not helping her sister during this time, cause her to visit home often which confuses her more.

In the midst of all this, Lizet’s mother has joined with others to protest the removal of Ariel Hernandez. He lost his mother leaving Cuba and they feel that since he made it to the US, that he should be allowed to stay but the possibility of his removal looms large as the rest of the story unfolds.

This was a quick, one-two punch of a read. Crucet’s writing is genuine and thoughtful. Lizet is a very believable character. Not perfect, but trying. My discussion group chose this book for next week’s discussion. I had to go back to read up on Elián González because I had forgotten a lot of the particulars. Do you remember his story?

Source: Purchased
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

7 thoughts on “Review: Make Your Home Among Strangers”

  1. I remember Elian Gonzalez but not well — mainly I remember that picture of him in the newspaper when the… I guess, immigration enforcement people? had come for him, and he looked so, so, so scared. I don’t remember even what the picture really was, but I remember his face.

    I really liked this book too! I thought Crucet had a keen eye for emotional detail, and I felt for Lizet so much. College is already hard if you already know all the rules of that world, and it just seemed agonizing that she had to learn them all fresh.

    1. Yes, after doing a search on him I do remember when they found him clinging to an inner tube off the coast of Ft. Lauderdale. I still don’t remember much else.

  2. I hadn’t heard about Elián González at all but just checked him up – even though it’s been years, I feel sad for him all over. You never get over incidents like that even if you were young. Sadly, there’s been TOO MANY such cases in the news over the past few years. All those poor kids.

    Sounds like this book is well written. I had been curious about it – the title grabs you. Will be looking it up.

  3. Oh my, I remember the Elian Gonzalez story and my heart aching for the boy. I wonder where he is now.

  4. Yeah I recall Elian but had to re-look up the whole incident to remember the details. Reno had him sent back to his father. I hope the novel made for a good discussion with your group. It seems ripe for it — as that whole incident was very inflammatory on both sides!

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