Make Your Home Among Strangers


Jennine Capó Crucet

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Make Your Home Among Strangers: Chapter 13 Summary & Analysis

Lizet arrives to the party about an hour late to find Jaquelin waiting for her just inside the foyer of the large house where the party’s being held. The music coming from within is loud, and as Jaquelin and Lizet enter the party, Lizet puts on her practiced game face. She struts through the party, flipping her hair and avoiding eye contact with other partygoers, even as she feels everyone looking at her. A few steps away from the dance floor, Lizet hears a voice calling to her—she turns around and realizes it is Ethan, from the library, who knows her only as “OK.”
Lizet is finally in her element. She has been isolated, uptight, and nervous throughout her whole first semester—now, at a party that is the closest thing she’s experienced to a Miami clubbing experience in months, she feels a renewed surge of confidence even in the face of all the self-doubt she’s suffered these last few months.
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Ethan tries to engage Lizet in conversation, but she’s in party mode—she yawns and tells him she has a boyfriend. Ethan seems uninterested in this, and continues talking with Lizet, though he’s not exactly flirting with her. He asks her what her real name is, but before she can tell him, Jillian stumbles over—she is massively drunk, and apologizes for leaving Lizet behind at the dorm. Jillian goes off to get some air—after calling Lizet a “hawt mamacita”—and Lizet introduces herself properly to Ethan at last.
Lizet tries to ignore Ethan and tells herself that she’s above interacting with him or making friends with him—she is in club mode. As she remembers where she is, though, Lizet acknowledges that she is actually in need of genuine friends, and decides to introduce herself to Ethan.
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Ethan asks Lizet where she’s from, and she tells him she’s from Miami—she braces herself for the follow-up question she’s grown used to over the past several months (“But where are you from from”), but Ethan doesn’t ask it. Lizet asks Ethan if he’s going to dance, but he tells her he’s only here to watch out for some of his residents—he’s an RA on campus. He tells Lizet he’s graduating in the spring and urges her to enjoy her time at Rawlings. He checks his watch and declares it’s time for him to leave if he wants to stop by some bars around campus—before he does, he invites Lizet to an ice-skating event on campus the next day. She says she’ll consider going, and Ethan encourages her to “stop being a poser and just show up” before ducking out of the party.
Ethan is not like the other people Lizet has met at Rawlings—he doesn’t judge her, he doesn’t pry into her life, and he seems genuinely interested in helping her make her college experience better. He wants her to be herself, relax, and enjoy Rawlings—which is more than anyone else either at home or at college has done for Lizet.
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Jillian stumbles back over to Lizet, and tells her that Ethan is clearly into her before heading back out onto the dance floor. Lizet spots Jaquelin up on a platform near the DJ—she joins her, and the two dance together, impressing the Latino DJ and the rest of the guests at the party. Lizet is happier than she’s been in weeks.
Lizet, perhaps taking Ethan’s advice, relaxes even more into her element and begins having fun with her new friend. Experiencing this small taste of home brings Lizet happiness—even though her feelings about Miami are conflicted and complicated.
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