Make Your Home Among Strangers by Jennine Capó Crucet

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Summary

Make Your Home Among Strangers is a 2015 young adult novel by Jennine Capó Crucet. It follows Lizet Ramirez, a daughter of Cuban immigrants and U.S. citizen, who juggles a complex family life with her minority status at the white and affluent Rawlings College. It is told from the perspective of the adult Lizet recounting her life to her cohorts in her marine biology lab. While adjusting to college, Lizet's mother, Lourdes, becomes politically active in the wake of a deadly shipwreck that kills a number of hopeful Cuban immigrants trying to make it into America, which would not welcome them through its legal pathways. A boy named Ariel Hernandez survives and becomes the figurehead of a movement to reform immigration law.

Returning home for Thanksgiving, Lizet becomes skeptical of the evidence Lourdes bases her immigration positions on. Lourdes leaves for most of the holiday weekend to attend a rally supporting Ariel, leaving Lizet with her sister and nephew, Leidy and Dante. Lizet also is charged with plagiarism at Rawlings but is given a reduced sentence of probation when the committee learns she comes from an underprivileged high school. She hides this from her family, but recovers her GPA and is invited to a research internship by Professor Kaufman.

Lizet's academic plans are put on indefinite hold when Lourdes appears on national news as part of a radical reformist group called Mothers for Justice. The news story leads to Ariel's deportation to Cuba, where his remaining family lives. Lizet decides to decline the internship and help out with her unstable family, but Dr. Kaufman keeps the offer open. At the end of the novel, Lizet reconciles with her mother and sympathizes with her passion for immigration reform. She realizes that she is still free to follow her own aspirations, and moves to California for the internship.