Make Your Home Among Strangers

by

Jennine Capó Crucet

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Make Your Home Among Strangers: Chapter 19 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
As soon as Lizet walks into the apartment, Leidy notices the envelope, even though she is busy changing Dante’s diaper. She teases Lizet, asking if they are her and Omar’s divorce papers, but Lizet quickly reveals that she didn’t go to see Omar; she went to see their father. Lizet begs Leidy not to tell their mother; Leidy insists she’s not telling their mother anything, as she “value[s her] life.” Lizet asks if Lourdes is home, but Leidy says she’s down at Ariel’s house.
From this conversation with Leidy, Lizet realizes that things between her mother and her father are not just strained but actually volatile. Luckily, Lourdes is out of the house, leaving Lizet free to ask Leidy some questions about the situation at home and get some answers as to what she’s been missing.
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Leidy asks where Ricky is living now, and Lizet is relieved to realize that her sister doesn’t know her father’s address—she hasn’t been keeping it from Lizet all these weeks. Lizet instantly feels bad for having thought her sister capable of such deceit. Lizet hands Leidy her and Dante’s envelopes and explains that they are Christmas presents. Lizet decides to embellish, though, and explains that Ricky wanted to get everyone “real” presents, but has been so busy with work that he hasn’t had the time.
Lizet wants to make it seem as if Ricky is more invested in Leidy and Dante—and herself, too—than he actually is, hoping that she will be able to restore some balance to her family by making everyone seem a little bit better than they are.
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Leidy hands her envelope back to Lizet, and says it has Lizet’s name on it. When Lizet looks at it more closely, she can see that it indeed does. She hands Leidy the other envelope, and Leidy tears it open. Lizet opens hers slowly, peeling back the flap bit by bit. Inside is a 50-dollar bill. Leidy and Dante each got 50 dollars, too; but Lizet notices that inside her envelope, on the flap, her father has written her a message.
Lizet’s lie turns out to be closer to the truth than she thought; her father, it seems, has actually put more thought into the gifts than it first appeared he had.
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Lizet wanders into the other room to read the note. In it, Ricky explains that he knows 50 dollars for Leidy and 50 dollars for Dante basically equals 100 dollars for Leidy. He apologizes for the unequal presents, and instructs Lizet to call him before she goes back to school so that he can give her another 50—“YOU deserve it,” he writes at that end of the note.
Lizet has been waiting and waiting for her parents’ perception of her going off to college as a “betrayal” to dissipate—neither of them, though, has once told her they’re proud of her for going off to college. As Lizet holds the envelope from her father in her hands, she realizes at last what it means: he is, in spite of everything, truly proud of her.
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Lizet folds the money into her pocket and tells herself she will not see her father again before she goes back to school—she doesn’t want him to think she’s just seeing him to get some more cash. She heads back to the bedroom and watches from the doorway as Leidy carefully places the two bills in the back of her underwear drawer. Lizet knows that her father’s present to them is not enough for either of them to get all of the things they need.
Lizet could badly use the extra money, but doesn’t want to seem like an opportunist or a mooch. The paltry nature of her father’s gifts makes her sad; there is so much in her life, in Leidy’s, and in Lourdes’s that needs fixing, and sadly Ricky’s contribution is just not enough.
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