Rosa Santos is cursed by the sea-at least, that's what they say. Dating her is bad news, especially if you're a boy with a boat.
But Rosa feels more caught than cursed. Caught between cultures and choices. Between her abuela, a beloved healer and pillar of their community, and her mother, an artist who crashes in and out of her life like a hurricane. Between Port Coral, the quirky South Florida town they call home, and Cuba, the island her abuela refuses to talk about.
As her college decision looms, Rosa collides - literally - with Alex Aquino, the mysterious boy with tattoos of the ocean whose family owns the marina. With her heart, her family, and her future on the line, can Rosa break a curse and find her place beyond the horizon?
Reviewed by Olivia Farr Staff Reviewer
DON’T DATE ROSA SANTOS is a sweet and touching book about family. Rosa lives with her grandmother, and she sees her mother every now and again as she arrives and leaves unexpectedly. Rosa’s family is thought to be cursed, as her grandfather drowned on the trip fleeing Cuba to America with her pregnant grandmother, who gave birth to her mother along the way. Her father disappeared to the sea when her mother was pregnant, and only his ship was ever found. Her mother and grandmother are rather tight-lipped about it all.
Rosa wants to connect with her heritage and has selected her college based on the availability of a study-abroad program in Cuba. She is not sure how her grandmother will take it, as it is one of the things they don’t discuss. Despite being a coastal town, Rosa has not spent much time around the water for fear of the curse. As the town needs to raise funds to prevent the marina from being bought out by upscale developers, Rosa proposes they have a cultural Latin American festival to raise money. As she gets into the planning, she is repeatedly paired up with Alex.
Alex (Alejandro) has left college and is back in town, working with his family and sailing- a fact that could make Rosa dangerous for him, if you believe in the family curse.
What I loved: This is really sweet story about family history and finding out who you are. The legacy of Rosa’s family has defined a lot of her life, and when the college that she planned to go to throws her a curveball, Rosa is left reconsidering her choices and why she has chosen the plan for herself that she has. I also really loved the representation of Latinx characters and the Latin American culture presented throughout. The relationships between characters, family and friends, were simply beautiful. This is a book which diverse audiences could easily connect with.
Final verdict: This is a lovely book about finding yourself, learning about family, and coming together. With beautiful writing that really connects the reader to the characters, this is a fantastic book for fans of Maurene Goo, Sandhya Menon, and Angie Thomas.