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.