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Last Updated on August 7, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 528

When her mother looks at her one night with determination, Lizet remembers how she broke the news to her family that she was moving to New York for college instead of staying in Miami. She says:

She looked like me for a second, like the face in the mirror the...

(The entire section contains 528 words.)

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When her mother looks at her one night with determination, Lizet remembers how she broke the news to her family that she was moving to New York for college instead of staying in Miami. She says:

She looked like me for a second, like the face in the mirror the night I’d practiced in front of it, almost a year earlier, after sending in my paperwork to Rawlings, saying to what seemed like a serious, determined reflection, There’s something I need to tell you guys. It’s about my future. Though in the end, I hadn’t said any of that, only: I’m going to college in New York and it’s too late to stop me, starting the whole thing off even more wrong than it already was.

This creates a divide that the family finds it difficult to cross. Lizet's mother and sister, especially, resent her for being gone. Lizet is more aware of the differences between them that going away to college has brought her. However, they still find ways -- at times -- to bridge the gap and find each other emotionally.

She also leaves behind her boyfriend when she travels to school. She feels separate from the girls at her college and their experiences and thinks of how she left Omar. She thinks:

The truth is, I had to abandon some part of myself to leave Omar in Miami. I had to adopt some twisted interpretation of everything that came before college to make my leaving him the right thing—I had to believe the story I made up for other people.

This is true for a lot of Lizet's experiences with going from Miami to New York. She becomes someone else and doesn't quite fit into either world. Her family changes their perception of her but she doesn't fit in with the girls she meets at school either. It leaves her isolated from everyone.

Lizet's mother is volunteering to help a young boy stay in America after he died drifting across the sea with his mother in an attempt to get into America. Lizet talks to her father and hears some of the details of his experience. Jennine Capó Crucet writes:

Once, when my dad was thirteen, a friend from junior high dragged him and some other guys to a nearby canal to see a dead body he’d found there. My dad told me this story only once, the summer after Ariel Hernandez was sent back to Cuba after months of rallies and riots. I’d asked him if what people like my mom said was true: that Ariel had seen his mother’s body floating in the Florida Straits, had watched sharks pick her apart before his rescue. This story was his only answer.

Ariel the young boy eventually is sent back to Cuba. The author shows the difference that Lizet's mother gives her grandson versus what she's willing to do for Ariel -- a boy she's never met who has many fighting for him. Even toward the end, she leaves her grandson Dante alone in his crib so she can show up at protests for Ariel.

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