When thirteen-year-old Yara and her family leave Cuba to live in Miami, they have no idea what lies before them, and what kinds of changes and adjustments they will have to make.
It is now September, and we are in Miami, living with my grandparents, uncle, aunt, and cousin in a tiny house. Everything is confusing, and I hate school. I can’t understand anything, and all my teachers speak English. I want to do well, but how can I when I don’t know what they are saying? Even mathematics isn’t the same. There’s the American way, and the Cuban way, and even if I get the right answer, I have to do it their way, not mine. But it isn’t just school that is confusing and strange. Mami and Papi fight all the time now, about her job, about her English classes, about his joining a group to fight to overthrow Castro. And it’s not like how they fought at home, when it was for just a little while, with lots of hugs and kisses after. Now the fights go on and on and on, and the air feels heavy and strange, and there are no hugs and kisses.
It is December, almost a new year, and many things have happened. We live in our own house now, and we have finally heard from Pepito. He doesn’t say what he’s doing or where he is, but he did tell us how things are going with the family we left behind. Ileana, my big sister, has a boyfriend, and fights with Papi and Mami because they won’t let her go out with him. They want us to stay Cuban, even though we live in America, and want to act like our friends. Papi keeps telling us that we are not immigrants, we are exiles, and we will be going back to Cuba soon. But I am beginning to wonder. Even school is better. I have a friend, Jane, who helps me learn English, and defends me when other girls tease me. I think perhaps Ileana and I are beginning to fit in here. If we do go back home, will we still be able to fit in there as well?”
Yara Garcia and her family face many challenges and changes when they leave Cuba for the United States. They don’t know how long they will stay, and they don’t know the language or the culture. Her parents fear change, and she and her older sister embrace it. Will their family be torn apart, or will they learn how to survive in the strange new reality they now live in?