Make Your Home Among Strangers by Jennine Capó Crucet

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Themes

The themes of Make Your Home Among Strangers include leaving home, making connections with your past, and guilt.

Guilt is a major theme in the novel. Lizet experiences a lot of guilt over leaving Miami to go to college in New York. It's a major change for her family and not one that they expected her to make. When she comes home, she feels the weight of their disappointment and feels bad that she can't be there for them during the upheaval they're experiencing. For example, Lizet's parents are separating.

Fitting in is another theme in the novel as Lizet struggles to find a place where she can belong. Once she leaves for college, home doesn't feel like home anymore. At the same time, she can't relate to her contemporaries in college. She also experiences some a struggle with her studies when she is accused of plagiarism and punished for not citing something correctly. However, she grows more into herself and makes her own place rather than choosing one of the two lives before her.

Making connections with your past is another important theme. Lourdes, Lizet's mother, is moving away from her family by focusing on another one. A young boy from Cuba is trying to get asylum and it becomes a large political issue. Lourdes fights for him rather than give that same care to her own family; her grandson needs a sitter and she regularly leaves him to fight for the boy she doesn't know. At the same time, Lizet is coming to terms with her parents, her sister, and the life that people expected her to have in Miami. She finds a way to connect with that that works for her but still lets her chart her own course.