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Make Your Home Among Strangers

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  1,997 ratings  ·  315 reviews
The arresting debut novel from award-winning writer Jennine Capó Crucet

When Lizet—the 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. Just weeks before she's set to start school, her parents divorce and her father sells
Hardcover, 388 pages
Published August 4th 2015 by St. Martin's Press
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3.70  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,997 ratings  ·  315 reviews

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Angela M
Aug 03, 2015 rated it really liked it

Just after I started reading this book , I came across an article on LitHub by Jennine Capo Crucet on how she was inspired to write this book . I always appreciate hearing what might have been the one little or the one big thing that created the spark to write a particular book. I'm including a link to the article because it really illustrates how much she knows of what she writes .

The novel begins with Lizet who is a lab manager in a research group study
May 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
3 1/2 stars. Make your Home Amongst Strangers has the makings of a really good book, and it was good but some aspects didn't quite work for me. As a first novel though, it is very strong and I will definitely look for the author's book of short stories and next novels. The story takes place in 1999 and 2000. Lizet was born in Miami to parents who immigrated to the U.S. from Cuba when they were teenagers. Lizet's world is the Cuban community in Miami until she is accepted at a fictional Ivy Leagu ...more
Elyse Walters
May 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Compulsively Readable ....A universal tale..... going off to College...being
classified as a minority student ... And all the trials and tribulation that come along
with it.

Liset is from Miami ...
Parents are cuban immigrants ... having recently divorced ...
Older sister Leidy, is living at home with her mother in a small apt. ( with her new baby, Dante, as a single mom)
The father left his wife at the same time Liset leaves for her Freshman year to Rawling's University in New York.
Liset leaves
Diane S ☔
Jul 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
3.5 Lizet, youngest daughter of Cuban parents, is accepted as a scholarship student at a prestigious college. Her parents marriage breaks up, her dad moving out at the same time Lizet leaves Miami to go east to school.

Lizet is an interesting character that we will see change and grow throughout this story. The first in her family to go to college she has a rough road to tow. She doesn't feel that she fits into her college's environment, misses her familiar life back at home. That however, is cha
Sep 23, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: wrote-a-review
This book was fine, not what I expected based on the description, and got tiresome as it progressed. I'm a little suspicious when newer, younger authors (especially those who look suspiciously like their main characters) write a book centered on leaving home and going off to college. It makes me wonder if perhaps they haven't had enough life experiences to write about other topics, and this book in particular screams of a tweaked memoir passed off as fiction.

To me, there were several glaring pr
Navdeep Singh Dhillon
I've often wondered about the experiences of minorities at Ivy League colleges, and this novel explores this with some real depth. The characters are very accessible and it's wonderfully written. Jennine tackles a subject I've always been curious about, but have never seen represented in fiction: the experience of being a minoritiy in a very white space. Liz secretly applies to an elite college, and leaves Miami to attend, which creates a fall out back in Miami. At college, Liz suddenly feels li ...more
Taryn Pierson
Feb 22, 2015 rated it liked it
This book should be required reading for high school teachers and undergraduate advisors. Having taught high school myself, I understand quite well how wide the gulf has become in the US between the skills required to earn a diploma from a public high school and those demanded by most four-year colleges. It's why universities now find themselves having to offer more and more sections of remedial courses—many of the 18-year-olds arriving each fall don't have mastery of the basics. They may have g ...more
Aug 08, 2015 rated it did not like it
One of the most boring books I have ever read. I did actually finish it, somehow. The story could have been interesting, but it dragged painfully and the writing was not beautiful so you didn't just enjoy reading for the sake of reading great prose. I could tell the author thought that's what she was doing the way she would end chapters with these sentences that were meant to be devastating in their simplicity but no they were just BORING. I think the idea of a novel that tries to bridge a gap b ...more
Aug 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Not a bad book but rather tedious and boring at times. I thought the issues faced by family to be real, but didn't care much for the characters.
Rebecca McPhedran
Lizet Ramirez is a first generation college student from Miami. Her first year at college coincides with a young boy from Cuba coming to the United States. She is an outcast in her family because of her choice to go away to school.
Her guilt at being away from her family, as well as the social and academic challenges she faces at a prestigious school, put a lot of stress on her. You root for her the entire time, and the story is structured as such, that you are constantly afraid that she will be
I think any work of fiction has the potential to touch someone, to impact them, regardless of content. However, those books where you see your own experience mirrored in characters’ lives tend to mean more. They validate you, make you feel less alone. For me, Make Your Home Among Strangers was one such book. The story of its protagonist, Lizet, was one I could easily identify with, one that made me nod my head and think “I’ve totally felt that!” at almost every page. So, in this way, it’s specia ...more
Mar 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people interested in the emigrant culture and its effect on a second generation
Recommended to Dottie by: Book Browse
A really interesting look at what is really involved when a young person attempts to leave their home - with their parents expectations - and move into what is really a different culture. Lizet is the daughter of Cuban emigrants whose only goal for her is marriage to her high school boy friend and life in the neighborhood. She is a very bright young woman who manages - without her parents knowledge or approval - to gain acceptance to a very selective college in New York. Unprepared for the cultu ...more
Aug 17, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
Tenía grandes expectativas centradas en este libro: admiro profundamente a los escritores cubanos en Cuba y aún más a los exiliados, retratan con humor, amor, amargura, realismo, poesía, desencanto, con un profundo sentido crítico, la realidad difícil de un país que concibió un gran sueño, una gran utopía, que muy rápidamente devino en pesadilla, escritores de la talla de Eliseo Diego, Jesús Díaz, Daína Chaviano, Leonardo Padura, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Zoé Valdés, por mencionar solo los prim ...more
"Make Your Home Among Strangers" follows Lizet Ramirez, a young Cuban-American woman leaving her home in Miami for the elite campus of Rawlings College. As the first in her family to attend college, Lizet faces the challenge of trading in her family and heritage for an academic world that leaves her both confused and isolated in her freshman year. Add on to that the tumultuous arrival of Ariel Hernandez (think Elian Gonzalez circa 2000) in Miami and her mother's obsession with his case, and Lize ...more
Linda Doyle
Sep 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
As a Latina who attended a highly regarded university, I am able to relate to this story of a young Cuban-American who leaves her Florida home for a college education at an elite institution in upper state New York. She is torn about her decision, feels she doesn't deserve a college education, that she is separating from her family by choosing to move away. Her sense of alienation within a white student population is very real and intricately described.

There is so much I admire about this book:
Jul 06, 2015 rated it did not like it
I received a copy of this book in the Goodreads First Reads giveaways.]

I really wish I could say that I liked the book, but I can't. I forced myself to finish it, waiting for the story to take a better turn, but it never came. I honestly just wanted to shake all the characters up, so they could move on and do something with theirs lives...
Oct 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a breathtaking debut and a must-read for anyone who works with first generation to college students. Added bonus that the author used to work for One Voice in LA! Capo Crucet's novel is both engrossing and heartbreaking - I very much look forward to her next work.
Jan 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Oh, this book! Jennine Capo Crucet has written a beautiful, terrible, moving story that will keep me thinking for a long time to come about how difficult it is to go home and how one really defines home in the first place.
Dec 22, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015, poc-author
3.5 stars
Sarah Jedd
Sep 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book. You guys. Go read this book.
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really liked the first half or so of this book. I found Lizet to be very compelling and Crucet is full of astute observations about humanity: "I was doing something I'd done hundreds of times before, but I was suddenly aware of my performance of making cafe con leche, of trying to pass for what I thought I already was." and especially about race and class issues.

As a first generation college student myself (and one with a MS and almost a PhD), I get the tension between family who does not und
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
This ended up being more interesting, deep, and thought provoking than I thought it could be. It's an interesting look at the immigrant experience from the first-to-go-to-college child. Set at the turn of the millennium with the backdrop of the Ariel Hernandez drama, it deals with the theme of what is family and the ties that bind them and when, if ever, do we owe family members at the cost of our own hopes and dreams? It's maybe more like a 3.5
Nick Moran
Aug 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
A moving depiction of what it's like to exist between places and identities - both real and invented - as well as the tension between the stories told about people and the stories people tell themselves. There are obvious parallels between the central dramatic event and the protagonist's situation, but in the end I was very impressed by how Crucet leaned away from the obvious. This is a thought-provoking, necessary book and I'm excited to see what's next from the author.
Kevin English
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the book that I wish I would’ve read my first year of college as a first-generation college student.
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
I actually ended up not being able to finish this book, but felt it pertinent to write a review anyway. I'll start off by saying some aspects of this novel were very relatable for those of us who are the first in our immediate families to attend college. Being utterly ignorant to the little details of college that escape those of us who are first-generation college students is one of our biggest collegiate barriers. Lizet's surprise at needing a "summer plan" was one such example. I disagree wit ...more
Sep 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: timemagazine
If I were to put this book on a "genre" bookshelf, I think I'd stick it first and foremost on a coming-of-age shelf. After all, the protagonist and narrator Lizet is on a mission to find her "true" self as she leaves her urban working-class Cuban home in Miami and ventures north to Rawlings College in New York. There, she experiences the culture shock of lots of white people and a school that expects her to be better academically prepared than she is.

However, this is more than a "freshman at col
Aug 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In all the books I have read (and I have read a lot) I rarely find the main characters from Miami. There is a special something that brings you there instantly. Author Jennine Capot Crucet describes the sights, the sounds, and the air perfectly. I can hear and see the characters. Lizet is a young girl graduating from Hialeah Lakes High School. She is the very first student to be accepted to Rawlings College, a prestigious, small, expensive college in New York. She has never been away from home, ...more
May 12, 2016 rated it liked it
Raised in the Cuban-centric area of Miami, Lizet, the daughter of Cuban immigrant parents, is accepted into Rawlings, an elite Northern college. Once she is there, she struggles to fit in both academically and socially. She chafes at her classmates pigeon-holing her as the "Cuban" girl and is jealous of their wealthy, carefree lives. Meanwhile, back in Miami, her family is falling apart. When Lizet left for college, her father abandoned the family and sold their house. Her mother and single-pare ...more
Oct 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
I really liked this book. It spoke to me as an immigrant and as an educator. The voice of the narrator is so strong and we need to hear more of these voices in literature.
Jul 22, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley, own, tob-2016
In an article apparently originally published on BookPage but reprinted on LitHub, Jennine Capó Crucet explains what led her to write Make Your Home Among Strangers:
I imagined the book to be this fictional road map of the first-generation college student’s experience, one that shows some of the ugly things race and class differences force on us.
In its focus on race and class differences, this book is particularly timely, given the recent spate of student "demands" on college campuses across the
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