Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno
Review by Lauren
Source: library copy; all opinions are my own
Official Summary: 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?
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Review: Don’t Date Rosa Santos was one of the 7 nominees for YA Fiction in the Cybils Awards. Personally, it was probably my least favorite of the seven. That doesn’t mean it was awful – I gave it three stars – but it just didn’t really hold my attention.
While reading, I realized the book reminds me of a mash-up between With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo and Love & Other Curses by Michael Thomas Ford – books about family, curses, first loves, food, and other countries and cultures. Rosa’s family isn’t great at communicating, so while they have this whole curse surrounding them, Rosa doesn’t actually know how it’s affected her mother and Abuela (grandmother), and it’s important for her to know these things. She lives her life under this cloud, of sorts, and yet she doesn’t feel like she can even talk to the people who would know best what that cloud feels like.
I really liked Rosa’s home in Port Coral. It sounded like a really lovely, friendly place, and I could empathize with her need to know more about Cuba and one day visit. She never thought she’d have the chance, but with Cuba opening up its borders more, it’s a dream she is secretly trying to make happen.
Don’t Date Rosa Santos is a good book, in general, but it wasn’t a great fit for me.