Lizet Ramirez is the main character in the novel. She is the youngest daughter of the Ramirez family who has left Miami to attend college in New York. She is hit with plagiarism charges when she doesn't cite something correctly but stays in school and eventually does much better. When she comes home, she feels disconnected from her family but also doesn't feel she fits in at college.
Lourdes Ramirez is Lizet's mother who is disappointed by her choice to leave Miami. She works with Mothers for Justice to try to keep Ariel in the United States but ultimately fails. However, her group gives her new purpose and friends outside of her family.
Omar is Lizet's high school boyfriend. He's emotional and possessive. When she leaves for college, he's very upset. Her family likes him and her sister thinks that he's more good-looking than Lizet. They eventually decide to break up for good. He ends up marrying someone else.
Leidy Ramirez is the older sister of the Ramirez family. She has a young son and is jealous of her sister. She feels like she doesn't get equal attention from her parents.
Rolando is Leidy's high school boyfriend. He's the father of her child. He chose not to propose when she wanted which is why she stopped taking her pill and got pregnant.
Dante Ramirez is Leidy's son.
Ariel Hernandez is a young Cuban boy who tries to get asylum in the United States. Lourdes works with an activist group to try to keep him in the country but he ultimately goes back to Cuba. According to Lizet, Cuba's government releases photos of him doing well regularly.