Make Your Home Among Strangers

by

Jennine Capó Crucet

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Lizet Ramirez Character Analysis

The protagonist of the novel, Lizet Ramirez is a first-generation Cuban-American and the first person in her family to go off to college. Lizet is intense, reflective, and deeply insecure. Throughout the course of the novel, she is torn between her childhood home of Miami and her new home at Rawlings College in New York. Lizet is profoundly saddened by the fact that her family sees her decision to go to college as a “betrayal,” and wonders constantly why they can’t congratulate her for her unprecedented success; she was the first person in her high school’s history to be admitted to Rawlings, and yet her parents and sister see her choices as selfish ones that neglect their own feelings, hopes, and dreams. Throughout the novel, Lizet is torn between the desire to strike out on her own, make a name for herself at Rawlings, and fit into the new world she’s exploring, and the longing for the familiarity, comfort, and ease of home. Lizet’s inability to translate her personal and academic successes, failures, frustrations, and joys to her family and friends back home wear on her as the book goes on. As Lizet wrestles with her own problems up at school, she finds herself pulled back time and time again to Miami, where her mother, Lourdes, is getting dangerously close to the emotional and political vortex at the center of the Ariel Hernandez case, her sister, Leidy, is flailing amidst the isolating, demanding work of being a single mother, and her father, Ricky, is systematically shutting himself off from everyone he knew and loved in a rejection of the community around him. In the end, Lizet must choose between staying true to herself and being who her family wants her to be.

Lizet Ramirez Quotes in Make Your Home Among Strangers

The Make Your Home Among Strangers quotes below are all either spoken by Lizet Ramirez or refer to Lizet Ramirez. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Picador edition of Make Your Home Among Strangers published in 2015.
Chapter 2 Quotes

Even to someone from Hialeah, Little Havana was a joke back then, the part of Miami only the most recent of refugees called home, a place tour buses drove through, where old Cuban men played dominos for tourists and thought that made them celebrities. But none of these geographical distinctions mattered at Rawlings. There, when people asked, So where are you from? and I said, Hialeah, they answered: Wait, where? And so I gave them a new answer: Miami, I'm from Miami. Oh, they'd say, But where are you from from? I was from from Miami, but eventually I learned to say what they were trying to figure out: My parents are from Cuba. No, I've never been. Yes, I still have family there. No, we don't know Fidel Castro. Once I learned what I was supposed to say, it became a chant, like the address I'd memorized but didn't think of as home.

Related Characters: Lizet Ramirez (speaker)
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

[…] I started to tell anyone who asked that Omar was a monster. He was an animal—more like an animal than a human. It seemed like what other people wanted to hear. […] Other girls would feel bad for me and claim they understood: the girl who'd made everyone hot chocolate, Caroline, even went so far as to mention she'd read The House on Mango Street in AP English. She said she knew about the kinds of relationships that plagued my community, had nodded in a solemn way when I told her yes, Omar could be rough. […]

I was happy to have something to add to those late nights in the dorm's common room when I was otherwise quiet, to be included in conversations even if I didn't totally understand the part I was playing. When everyone around you thinks they already know what your life is like, it's easier to play in to that idea—it was easier for me to make Omar sound like a psycho papi chulo who wanted to control me. At the very least, it made trying to make friends simpler than it would've been had I tried to be a more accurate version of myself.

Related Characters: Lizet Ramirez (speaker), Omar, Caroline
Page Number: 65-66
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 10 Quotes

—You're too connected to the whole thing.

I tossed the book on the desk behind me and said—too loud and leaning too far forward—What the fuck does that mean, connected? I'm not fucking related to the kid.

—Don’t get ghetto, Liz, she said. I'm just saying that, no offense, but as a Cuban person, you can't really expect people to believe that you'll be completely rational about this.

She held the water bottle loosely now, between only a couple fingers. I tried to match her ease by leaning back in my chair.

—I was born in this country, I said, not knowing what point I was trying to make.

I righted my chair and tried again. I said, Look, I would argue that I - I can speak more intelligently about this than you because I know more about it than you ever could.

—Wow, she said, her water bottle heading back to her mouth. Let's just leave that there before you get any more racist.

Related Characters: Lizet Ramirez (speaker), Jillian (speaker)
Related Symbols: Ariel Hernandez
Page Number: 89-90
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11 Quotes

—So our decision to place you on probation is based on things like that, [Dean Geller] said, which taken all together means that we think your old school didn't foster something that we're calling a culture of success. […]

The old man […] half barked, What she's trying to say is we believe you sincerely didn't know better. You haven't been given, at any point in your academic career prior to coming here, the tools to know better. So yes, you are guilty, but you are also blameless, and so that requires a more nuanced penalty.

[…]

—Lizet, we feel strongly that, having admitted you, it is our responsibility to help you succeed. And we see no better place for you to do that—

—Remaining at Rawlings, the old man interrupted again, is the fastest way we can see you overcoming these deficiencies.

The balding man and Dean Geller shifted in their chairs, and Dean Geller fixed her eyes on the old man until he met her glare. She seemed embarrassed for me, but I felt humiliated enough on my own, though I didn't really understand why.

Related Characters: Lizet Ramirez (speaker), Dean Geller (speaker)
Page Number: 96-97
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 15 Quotes

I was exhausted and very near tears, actually. I was shocked to find that it did not feel good to be home, to have seen her standing there in the airport. The entire three hours of the last flight, though I’d been nervous about seeing her, I mostly felt very happy to be getting away from Rawlings and that first semester. But spotting her before she saw me in the terminal—in that fake gold outfit, her face oily, her hands fidgeting with the rings on her fingers—had made my stomach turn […] I'd seen my mother in that moment as not my mother; I saw her as a tacky-looking woman, as the Cuban lady the girls on my floor would've seen, alone in an airport. And I did not like that I suddenly had this ability to see her that way, isolated from our shared history.

Related Characters: Lizet Ramirez (speaker), Lourdes Ramirez (Lizet’s Mother)
Page Number: 139
Explanation and Analysis:

As much as I was ashamed of my hearing results, by what that long letter stated the committee had decided—that I was the product of a poor environment—I willingly took it: I wanted to be at Rawlings, and I was grateful that they'd taken my background into consideration. I wanted to rise—I used exactly that word in the thank-you e-mail I wrote to the committee after printing out the resource list—to rise above what I'd come from. I'd felt sick as I typed it, felt like a traitor after I hit send, but now at the clash of my mom's bangles as she turned the steering wheel to cut off a car in retaliation for them cutting her off moments before—all the while lowering her window, her arm extending out, then her middle finger at the end of that arm, waving a fuck you as she yelled the same phrase in Spanish at the driver—I knew I'd meant it.

Related Characters: Lizet Ramirez (speaker), Lourdes Ramirez (Lizet’s Mother) (speaker)
Page Number: 139-140
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 16 Quotes

The fourth or fifth time [Leidy] accused me of acting white was the afternoon of my second day home, when I told her how, when I'd gone to pick up Dante from daycare, the girl ranked ninth in my graduating high school class was there, working as a teacher's helper and five months pregnant with her boyfriend-turned-fiancé’s kid. Without really thinking about it, I told Leidy that seeing that girl there was depressing. I think my exact words were, It just really bummed me out. She’d said, What the fuck is bum you out? Jesus, you sound so freaking white. […] I'd hurt her feelings without realizing it, which, based on my time at Rawlings, felt to me more white than anything else I’d done since being back […] My inability to get as upset as my mom about Ariel's possible deportation made me for the first time worry that Rawlings could change me in a way that was bad.

Related Characters: Lizet Ramirez (speaker), Leidy Ramirez, Dante
Related Symbols: Ariel Hernandez
Page Number: 147
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 20 Quotes

—You don't know shit about sacrifice. You don't know shit about shit!

—Zoila's right, you only care about Ariel because what else do you have going on?

She shoved me again and the room spun […]she was letting me fall. So I reached back instead and caught myself, slid my hands against the sandpaper of the wall, pressed my spine against it and sank to the ground, my butt hitting the floor too fast and too hard.

—You can go to whatever college for as long as you want, but about some things, you'll always be fucking stupid, she said.

She tossed the paper at me on the floor and said, You think you have problems? You, your sister, your idiot tía out there? You made your problems.

She turned her back to me and walked out of the room, screaming as she left, Nobody has any idea what Ariel and Caridaylis are going through right this second, but I do. I know what it means to lose so much. None of you know shit because you haven't sacrificed shit for anyone. Selfish pigs, that's what you and your sister are.

Related Characters: Lizet Ramirez (speaker), Lourdes Ramirez (Lizet’s Mother) (speaker), Leidy Ramirez, Caridaylis, Zoila
Related Symbols: Ariel Hernandez
Page Number: 201
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 22 Quotes

The grades in bio and chem meant that I'd done so well on the finals that I'd counteracted my earlier failing mid-term exam grades, but the B-minus in my writing seminar meant both that I'd done well on the final paper and that my professor had shown mercy. I latched on to that last aspect—mercy—and instead of basking in the idea that these grades were a huge accomplishment, I sobbed: they'd all let me off easy. I remembered the tone of my hearing and thought, They want to keep their Cuban above water for another semester. […] But almost as quickly, another fact pushed that feeling away: the exams in the chem, bio, and calc courses were graded blindly—we were assigned ID numbers, and only those appeared on our answer sheets. So those scores were, in a way, pure.

Related Characters: Lizet Ramirez (speaker)
Related Symbols: Ariel Hernandez
Page Number: 214-215
Explanation and Analysis:

I didn't want to see myself anymore—I recognized it as exactly that, even at the beginning of it, when I couldn't name it: Lizet playing a part. I'd thought a shirt from Leidy's clubbing stash would cover me by not covering me, would turn me back into El, but I was separate from her now, aware I was putting her on, and that colored everything. Omar was grabbing my wrists to stop me from running away again.

Related Characters: Lizet Ramirez (speaker), Leidy Ramirez, Omar
Page Number: 223
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 23 Quotes

Her version of our life made me more Cuban than I technically was, degrees of Cuban-ness being something I'd never thought about until Rawlings, until the Where Was I From From question. Mami's invented version made me a more authentic Cuban, and part of me wanted to hear her tell it. I wanted to see how she pulled it off—if she had to convince herself before she could convince anyone else, or if just saying something and having people believe it could make it real.

Related Characters: Lizet Ramirez (speaker), Lourdes Ramirez (Lizet’s Mother)
Related Symbols: Ariel Hernandez
Page Number: 229
Explanation and Analysis:

I felt in that moment the power he held and wielded by accident. He was more than a cute little boy. I had the very strong desire to carry him myself, to fold him into a little ball that fit in the circle of my arms. Hidden behind the pebbles of his baby-toothed grin, you sensed a loss so profound it made anyone want to hold him, to cradle and rock him and say you were so sorry, over and over again. For so many people there, he was a mirror, some version or idea of yourself, some Baby You, fresh off a boat or a plane and alone but still hopeful that what's been set into motion around you is just fine.

Related Characters: Lizet Ramirez (speaker)
Related Symbols: Ariel Hernandez
Page Number: 236
Explanation and Analysis:

[…] Did you see that? There’s something so special in her. God bless her, she is trying so hard.

[…] My mom knew I was the first student from Hialeah Lakes to go to Rawlings even though she never acknowledged it. In the grand scheme of human achievement, I recognize this is not a big deal, but still, when I eventually showed Mami the acceptance letter and pointed out the handwritten note near the bottom stating I was the first, she’d said, Maybe you’re just the first one who ever applied? […]

—Mom, I said. It's not the first time someone’s taken care of a kid. I mean, I get it, but it's not like what she’s doing is actually that hard. She's – she's a glorified babysitter.

She released my arm, almost threw it back at me. Her now-shut mouth, the way she rolled her shoulders to push out her chest, the ugly flash of a tendon in her neck: I knew then this was the wrong thing to say. I didn't even really believe it, but I needed to say it to her. I was trying hard. What I was doing was fucking hard. My mom stared at me so long that her eyes seemed to shake in her head.

Related Characters: Lizet Ramirez (speaker), Lourdes Ramirez (Lizet’s Mother) (speaker), Caridaylis
Related Symbols: Ariel Hernandez
Page Number: 239
Explanation and Analysis:

Mostly I was disappointed in Leidy and Omar for not recognizing what was really going on with Mami: she was becoming her own person finally, trying to learn who that even was via a newfound passion. So maybe she’d retrofitted the circumstances of her life to fit in to her new surroundings. So what? I of all people couldn't fault my mom for having the wherewithal to adapt her behavior, for being a creature thrust into a new environment and doing perhaps exactly what it took to survive there.

Page Number: 241-242
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 25 Quotes

—We never, ever use pencil because we never erase anything. You must keep the mistakes there. Mistakes are vital to every scientist's process. Just put a line through whatever you did incorrectly and keep going.

I wrote down this sentence and stared at it. It made perfect sense. The forgiveness built into this basic research philosophy—so simple and obvious—instantly validated my first semester in a way I could finally accept: everything led to this moment in this lab, the beginning of a new challenge of my own choosing. Put a line through it and keep going—I looked around to the other benches to see if anyone else registered the power of what she'd just said, but I was the only one taking notes, the only one nodding as my pen hovered over the page.

Related Characters: Lizet Ramirez (speaker), Professor Kaufmann
Page Number: 254
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 30 Quotes

I slapped my own chest and yelled, Why don't you watch the news and figure it out yourself like I did?

—That’s why you're mad at me? EI, what the fuck were you gonna do from up there?

I pointed at him and said, Exactly, Omar! That right there, what you just said? That's exactly why I'm here. To fucking do something since you and Leidy obviously didn't.

—Oh! Okay yeah, he yelled. So now you know how to handle everything, huh? You got it all figured out, don't you. You think you're so fucking smart.

He threw the car in reverse, shook his head as he turned the wheel. I'd made it halfway up the concrete leading to my dad's door when Omar lowered the passenger-side window and yelled my name, made me stop.

—Whose fault is it that you weren't here, huh? Maybe you need to think about that.

Related Characters: Lizet Ramirez (speaker), Omar (speaker), Leidy Ramirez, Lourdes Ramirez (Lizet’s Mother)
Related Symbols: Ariel Hernandez
Page Number: 310
Explanation and Analysis:

—We get the news, you know, up there […] do you have any idea how the rest of the country is seeing this? I'm tired of it. We look like a bunch of crazy people.

—What's with this we crap? he said. I'm not with her, you're not even here.

—We as in Cubans, I said. He smiled with only one side of his mouth. He laughed again.

—You're not Cuban, he said. This hurt me more than anything else he could've said—more than Who cares what anyone up there thinks, more than Like there’s anything coming down here is gonna do—and I think he saw it in my face, saw how impossible what he’d just said sounded to me.

—Don't look at me like that! he said. You're American. I'm wrong?

[…]

—Yeah, I said. I'm—what do you mean I'm not Cuban? I was born here, yeah, but I'm Cuban. I'm Latina at least, I said.

—Latinos are Mexicans, Central Americans. You're not that either he said.

—What? Dad, are you—other people think I'm Cuban.

He stood up from the bed and moved out through the door, leaving me alone as he said, Okay, sure you are. Whatever you say, Lizet.

Related Symbols: Ariel Hernandez
Page Number: 314
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 36 Quotes

I already know what each would say should I ever have to tell them about an upcoming research trip to Cuba: my dad would talk about being a little disappointed in me, about the unfairness of me being able to travel to a country he can't enter, but he'd mostly not say anything, only leave me guessing at his meaning […]; my mother would bring out familiar words—betrayal, loyalty, traitor—words that have come to define our relationship no matter how much time passes but whose sting has faded and turned into something I can manage […].

To tell them would also mean inviting them along in a way. We still have family there. […] And when I tell them there'll be no time for that, that this is a work trip, that I'll mostly be on the water, in or under a boat, that what they want me to do takes me clear across an island I don't know: Oh, I see. You don't have time to take a piece of paper and a crayon to your grandmother's headstone? You don't have time to do that for me who will never see it? Oh, that's right, of course you don't. I should've remembered how busy you always are. I shouldn't have even asked.

Page Number: 385
Explanation and Analysis:

I almost threw the whole thing out. This is too hard […].

But we all know the history, and I'm sure my vote was never counted. I'm sure it sits—even now, probably in that state's capital—in some vault, the envelopes unopened, the paper moldy and dank […].

I wish I'd known as I sat there hovering over that radiator-warmed punch card—having waited until the postmark deadline to commit a decision to it; the little pin that I'd detached from the instructions, which mandated I use only that tool to puncture the spot that proved where my loyalties lay, slipping in my sweaty hand—how pointless it would be. I wish I'd known that no one would ever see it or count it. I wish I’d known, as I pushed through one choice over the other, how little it mattered which side I ended up betraying, how much it would hurt either way.

Related Characters: Lizet Ramirez (speaker)
Page Number: 388
Explanation and Analysis:
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Lizet Ramirez Character Timeline in Make Your Home Among Strangers

The timeline below shows where the character Lizet Ramirez appears in Make Your Home Among Strangers. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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An adult Lizet Ramirez reflects on her childhood memories of Miami, “the city [she] used to call home.”... (full context)
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Years after her father told her this story, Lizet was working in a lab under a parasitologist when she fell into a filthy canal... (full context)
Chapter 2
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Lizet writes that she and Ariel Hernandez had their “Miami Homecoming[s]” on the same day: Thanksgiving... (full context)
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Lizet had originally planned to stay on campus for the holiday—coming home was not in her... (full context)
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Now, Lizet shuffles off a plane and into the Miami International Airport “a good hour after most... (full context)
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As people pack into the shuttle, Lizet notices a young-looking Latina lady who is dressed professionally and looks like she could be... (full context)
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The Academic Integrity Committee has mentioned to Lizet that they are taking where she went to high school into careful consideration as they... (full context)
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Looking back on the van ride home, the older Lizet reflects on how she already had so much to contend with that fateful Thanksgiving—and she... (full context)
Chapter 3
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Everyone else on the ride-share van has disembarked except for Lizet and the “imaginary profesora.” Lizet studies the woman, and notices that she is visibly crying.... (full context)
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Lizet asks the woman if she was crying—she admits that she was, and tells Lizet that... (full context)
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...to apologize, but the shuttle driver calls her stop. Before leaving the van, she hands Lizet her business cards, and strongly urges her to keep in touch. They are both girls... (full context)
Chapter 4
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Lizet barely recognizes her mother’s new building—Lizet spent only three days in the new place at... (full context)
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Lizet ignores her sister’s brusque tone, spotting Leidy’s baby, Dante, crawling around on the floor inside.... (full context)
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As Lizet settles in, she realizes that her mother is in fact angry with her—Lourdes says that... (full context)
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Lizet, Leidy, and baby Dante go into Leidy’s room. Lizet begins unpacking while Leidy folds laundry... (full context)
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Leidy chides Lizet for not telling anyone she was coming home—it’s dangerous, she says, to not let anyone... (full context)
Chapter 5
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...held just two blocks away, in front of a house owned by Ariel’s U.S. relatives. Lizet spends the morning playing with Dante—she remembers how Leidy got pregnant in high school by... (full context)
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Dante’s birth coincided with Lizet learning that she had been accepted to Rawlings—in shock, Lizet sent off her deposit waiver... (full context)
Chapter 6
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The street is abuzz with noise from the rally. As Lizet hears voices and music wafting in through the open windows, she contemplates the beautiful weather,... (full context)
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Lizet wants to ask Leidy if she has heard from their father, but instead Leidy asks... (full context)
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Lizet asks Leidy if she wants to go drive by their old house, but Leidy says... (full context)
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...to get on TV, too. As Leidy scrambles to get ready to leave the house, Lizet watches her mother on TV—she thinks Lourdes’s voices sounds like a stranger’s. When Lizet sees... (full context)
Chapter 7
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...girls get down to the rally, the camera people have moved on from their mother. Lizet is surprised and almost disappointed that Leidy does not ask her to elaborate on the... (full context)
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That night at dinner, Lourdes talks excitedly about the rally. As Lizet eats the delicious meal Lourdes has made, she considers confessing to both her mother and... (full context)
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As the meal goes on, Leidy and Lourdes ask Lizet about school—what she’s been eating, what her hardest classes are. Lizet tries to ease them... (full context)
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Lourdes asks Lizet if she is planning to see Omar while she’s in town. Lizet privately doesn’t even... (full context)
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Lourdes asks Lizet what time she needs to be at the airport the next day—Lizet lies and says... (full context)
Chapter 8
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Lizet and Omar have been together since the summer before her junior year of high school.... (full context)
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Omar knows the truth about Lizet’s problems at school, but despite having confided in him, Lizet feels he doesn’t really understand... (full context)
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Throughout her first semester at college, Lizet has found herself telling her new college friends about Omar in the terms she knows... (full context)
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Lizet remembers how, on her last night in Miami, Omar became upset and defensive when a... (full context)
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Lizet decides to call Omar once she is already at the airport, using a pay phone... (full context)
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Before hanging up, Omar asks Lizet if she’s heard anything more about her academic integrity investigation—she tells him she has one... (full context)
Chapter 9
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Lizet returns to Rawlings to find her dorm largely empty. Her roommate, Jillian, is not due... (full context)
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On the way back from dinner, Lizet stops at her mailbox in her dorm and rifles through the letters that have gathered... (full context)
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Lizet decides to call the office and lie to them, telling them she is still in... (full context)
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Lizet angrily begins unpacking. When she’s finished, she crawls into Jillian’s bed and puts a movie... (full context)
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Lizet thinks back to orientation week, when she attended a meeting scheduled by the Office of... (full context)
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Lizet and Jaquelin exchanged stories of homesickness, and revealed that neither girls’ parents had come up... (full context)
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Now, watching Monty Python in Jillian’s bed, Lizet begins crying. She worries that the prediction made at the meeting has come true for... (full context)
Chapter 10
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The next morning, Lizet straightens up Jillian’s side of the room, hiding all evidence of having used Jillian’s things.... (full context)
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...to hear all about “that baby from Cuba”—Ariel’s story is all over the news everywhere—but Lizet deflects, stating that her family is uninvolved in all the hubbub surrounding Ariel’s arrival. Jillian... (full context)
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During her time at Rawlings, Lizet has noticed that her classmates know almost nothing about what is really happening in Cuba—they... (full context)
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Lizet decides to simply tell Jillian that Jillian can’t imagine how bad things are in Cuba.... (full context)
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Lizet is almost too angry to say anything else, but after a moment she asks why... (full context)
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Lizet insists she’s not being racist, but Jillian ignores her and busies herself by unpacking her... (full context)
Chapter 11
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After waiting in the administration office—with Jillian’s borrowed blazer scratching the back of her neck—Lizet is led back to a conference room by an older assistant, who urges her not... (full context)
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The oldest man speaks up to tell Lizet that though they have found the claim of “egregious plagiarism” justified, the committee has decided... (full context)
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Lizet isn’t being punished, one of the committee members reveals, because after contacting Hialeah Lakes, they... (full context)
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Dean Geller tells Lizet that, having admitted her, it is now Rawlings’s job to help her succeed. Lizet feels... (full context)
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Lizet doesn’t fully understand what’s happening, but she signs the contract anyway, and then feels foolish... (full context)
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Lizet goes to her shift at her work-study job at the library, and reads over the... (full context)
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Lizet is so busy worrying about the contract that she gets spooked when someone goes through... (full context)
Chapter 12
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...of a way to quickly pull her grades up before the end of the semester, Lizet pays a visit to an on-campus tutoring service, the Learning Strategies Center. Lizet is surprised... (full context)
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On each visit to the writing center the next week, Lizet, walking through the student union, passes several big-screen TVs mounted on the walls; they broadcast... (full context)
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On the way to one of her study sessions, Lizet bumps into Jaquelin Medina, the girl she met at the mandatory Diversity Affairs welcome meeting.... (full context)
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Lizet has been unimpressed by the few Rawlings parties she’s attended so far this year, but... (full context)
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On the night of the party, Lizet flatirons her thick, curly hair in the communal bathroom, sending the smell of smoke wafting... (full context)
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Lizet heads back to her dorm room to get dressed. When she’s ready, she heads out... (full context)
Chapter 13
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Lizet arrives to the party about an hour late to find Jaquelin waiting for her just... (full context)
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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.... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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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... (full context)
Chapter 14
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The next morning, after studying in the library for a few hours, Lizet heads to Ethan’s dorm for the ice-skating event he told her about. He greets her... (full context)
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On the way over to the ice-skating rink, Lizet talks with Ethan and a few other students about the party the night before. It... (full context)
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Lizet puts on ice skates for the first time and clumsily enters the rink. She hugs... (full context)
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Lizet bristles a little bit, worried that Ethan has sized her up and assumed she, too,... (full context)
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...little one has slept becomes a sort of status symbol. Strung out, tired, and homesick, Lizet decides to use her calling card to reach out to her father, to whom she... (full context)
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Lizet and her father catch up for a few minutes, and he asks repeatedly if she’s... (full context)
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In her disoriented state, Lizet vows to confront her father at Christmastime about his own betrayals: selling the family home,... (full context)
Chapter 15
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Lizet flies home once again—this time, her mother greets her at the airport terminal, commenting immediately... (full context)
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Lizet recalls having written the committee a letter after her hearing, stating that she was grateful... (full context)
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When Lourdes turns onto her street, Lizet is shocked to see how the block has changed. Signs and flags welcoming and supporting... (full context)
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Lourdes helps Lizet retrieve her bag from the trunk and bring it to the front of the apartment... (full context)
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...the sound of their mother’s bedroom door shutting. Leidy sits down on the couch with Lizet, and remarks on how “white” Lizet looks; she urges her to spend some time over... (full context)
Chapter 16
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 Ricky calls the apartment on the first night Lizet arrives from Rawlings. The call is short, but he promises to call back. Three days... (full context)
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The previous day, Leidy called Lizet a “white girl” after she used a stilted phrase to describe the paint job on... (full context)
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At Fito’s apartment in Hialeah, Lizet greets her cousins and tells them she’s just gotten back from college in New York.... (full context)
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Inside, Lizet greets her uncle Fito, and speaks to him in English as she asks where her... (full context)
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Lizet arrives at her father’s new apartment, in a complex called The Villas. It is shabby... (full context)
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Rafael greets Lizet warmly, hugging her like she is his own daughter. Lizet looks around at their ramshackle... (full context)
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Rafael offers to call Ricky, but Lizet insists she has to go. She asks Rafael not to tell Ricky she came by—she... (full context)
Chapter 17
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Lizet, Leidy, and Lourdes eat a light dinner in preparation for the “onslaught of food” that... (full context)
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Lizet notes that Lourdes talks about Ariel and Caridaylis as if they are close friends—when she... (full context)
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...Omar is coming to their family’s Noche Buena celebration—he was there the year before, but Lizet confesses that she hasn’t really talked to Omar since she’s been home. Leidy reveals that... (full context)
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Lizet takes the cordless phone into her and Leidy’s bedroom—but rather than calling Omar, she calls... (full context)
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Ricky asks Lizet if she has time to get together tomorrow, and she says she does. He asks... (full context)
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The next morning, Lizet kisses her mother goodbye as she is waking up, and lies that she is going... (full context)
Chapter 18
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Lizet arrives at the restaurant to meet Ricky very early. She sits at a table by... (full context)
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Ricky arrives at the restaurant. As he approaches the table and gives Lizet a hug, she is unsure of how to react. Just a day ago, she was... (full context)
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Ricky and Lizet order their food; he apologizes for being out of touch, and explains that he has... (full context)
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Lizet asks what Ricky knows about her mother and Ariel—her father doesn’t answer. When Lizet asks... (full context)
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Ricky and Lizet begin eating, and Ricky continues talking about Lourdes and her Ariel obsession. He admits that... (full context)
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As Ricky and Lizet finish eating, Ricky asks whether everyone is attending the annual party at Lourdes’s sister Zoila’s... (full context)
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Lizet heads home with the envelopes from her father in her back pocket. She is determined... (full context)
Chapter 19
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As soon as Lizet walks into the apartment, Leidy notices the envelope, even though she is busy changing Dante’s... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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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,... (full context)
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Lizet wanders into the other room to read the note. In it, Ricky explains that he... (full context)
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Lizet folds the money into her pocket and tells herself she will not see her father... (full context)
Chapter 20
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...family gatherings a couple of times a year. On the drive over to Zoila’s house, Lizet wonders how much her mother’s family knows about the split—or, for that matter, about Lizet... (full context)
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When Lizet, Lourdes, Leidy, and Dante arrive at Zoila’s house, Zoila is already half-drunk and greets them... (full context)
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...a cousin so that she can have a drink and enjoy herself. As Leidy and Lizet begin gulping sangria together, Lizet feels “normal” for the first time since she’s been home.... (full context)
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One of Lizet’s cousins asks her where Omar is, and Leidy interjects, revealing that Lizet has broken up... (full context)
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Over the course of the night, Lizet fends off her increasingly drunk relatives, who comment on her changed appearance and ask her... (full context)
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Lizet rushes outside to confront her mother—she walks out to see that Zoila is teasing Lourdes... (full context)
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Lizet tries to get her mother’s attention, but Lourdes is riled up and distracted by her... (full context)
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Lourdes drags Lizet back into the house and reprimands her for talking to her so disrespectfully in front... (full context)
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Lizet shows Lourdes the place card and asks what it was doing on the table—she wants... (full context)
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Lizet and her mother continue to argue—about Omar, about Lourdes’s disinterest in Lizet’s experiences at school,... (full context)
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Lizet, sitting on the ground as the room spins around her, believes her mother is the... (full context)
Chapter 21
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That night, once Lourdes and Leidy fall asleep, Lizet calls Omar on the kitchen phone. She is surprised at how good it feels to... (full context)
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Lizet tells Omar about the disastrous Noche Buena party. She lets him know that her entire... (full context)
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Over the rest of the break, though, Omar and Lizet have sex frequently. After the two drive out to the beach on Christmas day, Omar... (full context)
Chapter 22
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Every day starting the day after Christmas, Lizet runs downstairs to the mailboxes on the ground floor of her mother’s apartment complex to... (full context)
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On New Year’s Eve, Lizet’s grades show up. Both Lourdes and Leidy are working, and Lizet is grateful to be... (full context)
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When Omar comes over with coffee and breakfast in hand, Lizet tells him the good news about her grades. She exaggerates, though, telling him she earned... (full context)
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Later that evening, Leidy lends Lizet some outrageous club clothes. As Lizet gets ready, feeling as if she is at last... (full context)
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Omar comes to pick Lizet up, and Lourdes warns them both to be careful out on the streets of Miami.... (full context)
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Omar and Lizet drive to a nearby liquor store to pick up some alcohol. Lizet takes a couple... (full context)
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It takes a very long time for the words to sink in—Lizet and Omar are already at the club before she really thinks about them—but soon Lizet... (full context)
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Lizet, angry and hurt, heads through the crowd towards what she thinks is the bathroom. The... (full context)
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Lizet becomes hysterical, explaining that the whole world is watching Miami, and that she, her mother,... (full context)
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Lizet begins screaming that she wants to go—Omar tries to calm her down and restrain her.... (full context)
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In the backseat of Omar’s car, though, Lizet cannot get into the zone. The sex is passionless and Lizet frets that she is... (full context)
Chapter 23
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The next morning, Lizet takes a shower—she is preparing to leave for the rally with her mother, and she... (full context)
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Lizet ignores Leidy’s warning, although she remembers how their mother was already exaggerating for the cameras... (full context)
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Lizet is shocked to hear things are so out of hand. She sits down on the... (full context)
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Outside, the air is chilly for Miami. As Lourdes and Lizet walk the two blocks over to Ariel’s family’s home, Lizet notices more and more posters,... (full context)
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As the rally gets underway, Lizet sees why Lourdes told her to come only if she was interested in really helping... (full context)
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...crowd shouts that the door to Ariel’s house is opening, and the crowd falls quiet. Lizet waits excitedly and indeed a bit nervously to see Ariel for the first time. When... (full context)
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Lizet feels as if she has fallen into a trance. She realizes now that she would... (full context)
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Lizet looks towards the front of the crowd and sees that Caridaylis has joined Ariel at... (full context)
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As Lourdes begins gushing about how special Caridaylis is, Lizet feels an intense anger take over. She has worked so hard to get into Rawlings... (full context)
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Lizet is so upset that she can barely speak. She wants her mother to give her... (full context)
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Lizet is surprised to find that she actually empathizes with her mother. She is disappointed in... (full context)
Chapter 24
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...is another rally in anticipation of the court releasing its decision on Ariel’s asylum status. Lizet again goes along with Lourdes, mainly out of a desire to support her mother. They... (full context)
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...uncle states that their worst fears have come true, but as he continues his speech, Lizet stops listening. She looks at Lourdes, who seems to be “melting”; Lourdes turns her face... (full context)
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Lizet is confused about what has just happened, and a friend of Lourdes’s explains that the... (full context)
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Lizet hears someone shouting her mother’s name; she turns around and realizes that Lourdes has collapsed... (full context)
Chapter 25
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During Lizet’s last few days in Miami before returning to Rawlings, Ariel’s uncle sues for temporary custody... (full context)
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As Lizet readjusts to life at Rawlings, she hears snippets on the news all over campus about... (full context)
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Meanwhile, Lizet is excited to begin classes again; her schedule, packed with biology, calculus, Spanish, and a... (full context)
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...mistakes must all be on the page, as mistakes are “vital to every scientist’s process.” Lizet writes this sentence down and thinks hard about it. She finds herself touched by the... (full context)
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...surprises the class with their very first exam: each student must demonstrate their sterile technique. Lizet, whose name is towards the end of the alphabet, nervously watches as her classmates struggle... (full context)
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After visiting the library to pick up her work-study schedule, Lizet runs into Ethan, who admits he’s been looking for her everywhere. They decide to get... (full context)
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Lizet, wanting to “protect” both Ethan and herself, decides to rework the truth. She moves her... (full context)
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As they eat their lunch, Ethan tells Lizet about a program he runs on campus—a standing study group called Happy Hours, which functions... (full context)
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At Professor Kaufmann’s office, Lizet bonds with her new teacher over their shared love of the ocean. Though Kaufmann begins... (full context)
Chapter 26
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Lizet is surprised when, only a few days into the new semester, Jillian asks her what... (full context)
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Jillian changes the subject—she asks Lizet why Lizet switched her fancy new ring from her left hand to her right hand.... (full context)
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During the second week of classes, Lizet decides to go to Ethan’s Happy Hours study session. When she arrives, though, she is... (full context)
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As the semester goes on, Lizet keeps wearing Omar’s ring on her right hand instead of her left. She thrives in... (full context)
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Meanwhile, Lizet calls Omar late almost every night. She’s been asking him to check in on Lourdes... (full context)
Chapter 27
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Lizet receives an email from Dr. Kaufmann, stating that the professor wants to meet with Lizet... (full context)
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After class, Professor Kaufmann excitedly calls Lizet over to her desk and asks her to sit down. Dr. Kaufmann asks Lizet if... (full context)
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As Lizet heads back to her dorm room, she wonders how she will find a way to... (full context)
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Lizet decides to hold her good news inside for just one night, and keep the excitement... (full context)
Chapter 28
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Lizet writes that she didn’t realize at the time that her reluctance to call home about... (full context)
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As Lizet heads into her dormitory and passes the TV lounge on the way to her room,... (full context)
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Lizet is shocked to see her mother on the screen, as neither Leidy nor Omar have... (full context)
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Lizet asks what is happening on the news—one of the girls answers that Ariel Hernandez’s father... (full context)
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Lizet whips around and tells the other girls that the woman on television is her mother,... (full context)
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Lizet tells Caroline and Tracy that Ariel’s father’s attempt to get his son back is just... (full context)
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When the girls question Lizet, she embellishes her ties to Cuba, describing coming over to America as a baby and... (full context)
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Tracy tries to tell the others that Lizet is not really from Cuba—just at that moment, though, on the television, Lourdes’s voice can... (full context)
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Once they are gone, Caroline lets go of Lizet and apologizes for having touched her. Lizet is suddenly embarrassed for having acted out, worried... (full context)
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Lizet picks up the phone and calls her mother’s home phone, but no one answers. She... (full context)
Chapter 29
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...prayer night and day dressed in head-to-toe black in mourning for Ariel’s mother. One day, Lizet calls home and speaks to Leidy. When she asks how Lourdes is, Leidy replies that... (full context)
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Lizet considers talking to Ethan about the problems she’s having at home, but doesn’t want him... (full context)
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Lizet arrives at Happy Hours to find that Ethan isn’t there yet. He comes bounding through... (full context)
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Ethan is upset that Lizet isn’t happy for him and won’t congratulate him. Lizet’s eyes fill with tears as she... (full context)
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Lizet insists she’s happy for Ethan, but confused as to why he wouldn’t have told her... (full context)
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Ethan, confused and hurt as to why Lizet is reacting so badly to his news, tells her that he’s not going to let... (full context)
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Lizet is alone in the dorms all of spring break—Jillian and Ethan are both away, so... (full context)
Chapter 30
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Lizet has asked Omar to pick her up from the airport—she hasn’t told him the true... (full context)
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Now, as Omar greets Lizet at the airport terminal, he asks where her ring is. She tells him she left... (full context)
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Omar starts driving Lizet towards Little Havana, and she tells him she’s not going to her mother’s house—she wants... (full context)
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...has come out of his apartment building at the noise; he is shocked to see Lizet home, and Lizet can tell he is more than a little angry. When Lizet tells... (full context)
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Lizet brings up what she’s seen on the news, but Omar insists he didn’t want to... (full context)
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Lizet goes into her father’s apartment and sits with him in his bedroom. She and her... (full context)
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Lizet tells Ricky that she needs to get her mother away from the Ariel situation. She... (full context)
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As Lizet eats her snack, Ricky asks if she needs a ride to her mother’s apartment—she can’t... (full context)
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Ricky points out that Lizet has gone to college by herself and has paid for all her own trips home... (full context)
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In the morning, Ricky drives Lizet to Lourdes’s apartment. Leidy answers the door for her; Leidy seems both surprised and unsurprised... (full context)
Chapter 31
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Leidy tells Lizet that Lourdes has been spending all over her time over at Ariel’s house—she has only... (full context)
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...sick and vacation days at work, and is putting her job in jeopardy. Hearing this, Lizet feels hurt that her mother is using her vacation days for Ariel, but wouldn’t use... (full context)
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Leidy hands Lizet a piece of mail that came for her recently—it is a large manila envelope from... (full context)
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When Leidy asks what the envelope is for and Lizet explains it’s for a summer internship, Leidy grows irate. She has been counting on Lizet... (full context)
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Leidy, Lizet, and Dante head down the street towards Ariel’s. As they approach the house, they see... (full context)
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Lizet asks Lourdes if she’ll come home just for a little while so they can spend... (full context)
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Lizet rejoins Leidy away from the group; Leidy is crying. She tells Lizet that she has... (full context)
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As evening is about to fall, Lourdes comes home to the apartment. She greets Lizet warmly, but tells her she doesn’t have much time—she doesn’t feel right not being at... (full context)
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Lourdes asks if Lizet will come back to the vigil; Lizet is taken off guard, but Lourdes insists Lizet... (full context)
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Lizet goes back into Leidy’s room and packs for the “sleepover” part of the vigil. She... (full context)
Chapter 32
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There are so many questions Lizet wants to ask her mother about her involvement with the Madres on the walk over... (full context)
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...table in the dining room is loaded with food. As Lourdes makes a plate for Lizet, a young man about Lizet’s age begins talking to Lourdes. Lizet recognizes him from high... (full context)
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Lourdes leaves Lizet alone while she goes off to attend to some business. Lizet makes herself comfortable on... (full context)
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Lizet asks Victor more about how he knows her mother, but Victor tells her not to... (full context)
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At this point, Lizet tries to walk away, but Victor demands to know why she’s here. She’s already a... (full context)
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As the hours go by, the crowd in the house begins to thin out noticeably; Lizet feels self-conscious as the crowd dwindles, and it becomes clear that she has no place... (full context)
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As she falls asleep, Lizet tries to rewrite the conversation with Victor in her head, and rearrange the things he... (full context)
Chapter 33
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Lizet is awoken by a strange woman who shakes her out of sleep by grabbing her... (full context)
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By the time Lizet gets to the front gate of the house, Ariel has already been removed from his... (full context)
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Lizet runs after the van as it speeds away, but soon stops in the middle of... (full context)
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The inside of the house is chaos. Lizet steps over toys, blankets, and trails of pepper spray as people scream all around her... (full context)
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Lizet watches as Lourdes comforts Caridaylis. Lourdes begs the other people in the room to leave... (full context)
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Lourdes looks up at Lizet and hisses at her to leave the room, clutching Caridaylis tighter to her chest. Someone... (full context)
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As Lizet walks out of the room, grabs her bag, and leaves the house, she realizes that... (full context)
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Leidy is furious with Lizet for leaving Lourdes at Ariel’s. Lourdes does not come home later the next day or... (full context)
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The morning of Lizet’s flight, Leidy is still too mad at her to drive her to the airport, and... (full context)
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When Lizet returns to campus, she has nobody to call and tell she got home safely. When... (full context)
Chapter 34
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Though Lizet is dazed and physically and emotionally exhausted on her first day back at Rawlings, she... (full context)
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Lizet tells Ethan that he looks like a different person—she is having trouble keeping the emotion... (full context)
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Instead of leaving, though, Ethan leans over Lizet’s desk and accuses her of being cruel to him. He has been trying to be... (full context)
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As Ethan hovers on the other side of the desk, Lizet thinks about the first day they met, right here in this spot. Ethan drums once... (full context)
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In her next lab class, Lizet is surprised when Professor Kaufmann approaches her and asks her to stay after class. Lizet... (full context)
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Professor Kaufmann blinks, and says she doesn’t understand—she wants to know what Lizet will be doing in Miami all summer. Lizet says she’ll be supporting her family. Kaufmann... (full context)
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Lizet tries once and for all to get out of the internship, but Kaufmann insists Lizet... (full context)
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Lizet hears from Ethan only once more that semester, towards the end, when he writes her... (full context)
Chapter 35
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Lizet has been living at home in the “cold war” of her mother’s apartment for three... (full context)
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Lizet dutifully shoulders the joint responsibilities of looking after Dante and Lourdes. She helps Lourdes look... (full context)
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Lourdes is still attending protests and political meetings, and Lizet has agreed to drive her to them—as long as they are not too radical or... (full context)
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The next morning, Lizet sneaks out while everyone else in the apartment is still asleep and goes to the... (full context)
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When Lizet gets back to the apartment, Leidy is coming out of the shower; Lizet spooks her,... (full context)
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Lourdes demands to know what’s going on, and Lizet tries desperately to explain to her mother that she’s not leaving for any old job—she’s... (full context)
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Lourdes tells Leidy that she needs to let Lizet go. She passive-aggressively states that if Lizet wants to go “spend her summer with some... (full context)
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Lourdes asks Lizet when she’s planning on leaving, and Lizet says that her flight is in two days.... (full context)
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Lizet waits downstairs for Ricky to come get her. When he arrives, she explains that she’s... (full context)
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Two days later, Ricky takes Lizet to the airport, where the lines are chaotic due to upped security in the wake... (full context)
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When the plane starts boarding, Lizet and Ricky say their goodbyes. He urges her to call Lourdes when she lands and... (full context)
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Ricky points out a leak in the ceiling, but when Lizet looks where his finger is pointing, she can’t see anything. She thinks he must be... (full context)
Chapter 36
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Lizet, writing as an adult, explains that the island of Cuba is surrounded by some of... (full context)
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Lizet knows that the lab she works for will soon require her to take a trip... (full context)
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...daughter Angelica are both thriving in school, and Omar and his wife are their neighbors. Lizet was not the maid of honor at Leidy’s wedding—Lourdes was. Ricky did not attend the... (full context)
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Lizet attended graduate school for a time but ultimately dropped to take a position at a... (full context)
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Lizet doesn’t know if she would tell her parents if she got the opportunity to go... (full context)
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After the summer internship in Santa Barbara, Lizet moved her things into a single dorm and used the days before classes began to... (full context)
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Leidy told Lizet about that a rumor was going around that Al Gore had been the one to... (full context)
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The November after the Ariel debacle was the first election in which Lizet was old enough to vote. She followed the directions on her absentee ballot, nearly throwing... (full context)
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Lizet writes that she is sure, now, that her ballot, so painstakingly filled out, was never... (full context)