Week 12

Make Your Home Among Strangers follows the story of a Cuban- American woman, Lizet. The story follows Lizet primarily through her college life. In the book Lizet decided to take a trip home for Thanksgiving, unaware that at the same time a boy Ariel Hernandez would be arriving in Miami as well. Lizet goes on to explain her family life, that her mother and father are separated and that her mother and her work extra hard and save so Lizet can attend Rawling, the university where she studies. Lizet also describes her relationship with her older sister, Leidy, and explains how Leidy got pregnant after high school so her boyfriend, Roly would stay with her. After Leidy had her son Dante, she expected Roly to stay with her, but he does not and only shoes up a couple of times to give gifts to his son. Throughout the book, Leidy struggles to understand why Lizet finds college so important and she often accuses her of forgetting her heritage and claims that college is making her forget her Cuban identity. Lizet struggles with her identity as a Cuban-American often throughout the book, she explains how white people always ask where she is “from, from” and how at her college she is the only Cuban-American student. During Lizet’s trip home on Thanksgiving, she finds that her mother, Lourdes has become very passionate about the Ariel Hernandez cade. Hernandez was found by a group of fishermen next to the dead body of his mother. Lizet’s mother is passionate about letting Ariel be able to stay in America as she says it was his mother’s dying wish. As well, Lizet speaks about her relationship with her high school boyfriend, Omar. She explains that Omar was often supportive of her college journey, but that one day when she was talking about how difficult classes were, Omar showed his true colors and was not very supportive of her dreams of higher education. Omar loves Lizet but is a bit controlling over her actions, where Lizet is just focused on getting her education, no matter how hard she is struggling. In the beginning of the book on Lizet’s way home she takes a taxi and talks to another Cuban-American woman who explains to her how great it is she is getting an education, when the woman gives Lizet her card, she tears it to pieces. The woman corrected her when Lizet said she was doing “bad” in school, and the woman explained she should use “badly.” I feel like this part of the story lays some ground with Lizet and her aciden=mic life, that although she has worked hard to be able to pursue an education, sometimes it proves to be difficult for her. Lizet was in trouble with her school for plagiarism and explains how she accidentally copied her work from an article, in this part of the book her place at Rowlings is in jeopardy and she is very sensitive towards that. After Thanksgiving, Lizet returns to school and her plagiarism charges are dropped. Lizet begins taking school more seriously. During her time at school her roommate Jillian often talks about the Ariel Hernandez case, Jillian is not always very nice to Lizet and is a bit racist, she tells her that she can’t tell her opinion on the case because her opinion wouldn’t be objective. As well, during this time at school Lizet begins to talk to a boy, Ethan, Lizet is still dating Omar, but that does not stop her from developing a relationship with Ethan. Lizet goes home for Christmas, where her mother is even more obsessed with the Ariel Hernandez case and her sister constantly questions Lizet’s Cuban identity, telling her college has made her white. On New Years, Lizet goes to a rally to support her mother. At the rally, she starts to understand just how important the Hernandez case is to many Cuban Americans as Ariel is a reflection of their experience leaving Cuba for America. Lizet’s mother lies on TV saying that she brought her children from Cuba. Lizet lies to her friends at school as well, saying she came from Cuba. Ethan tells Lizet that he is going to Berkeley and Lizet is upset, but that realizes that she had put her parents in a similar situation. When Lies goes home again, there is a raid on Ariel Hernandez’s house and he is united with his father and sent back to Cuba. At the end of the story, we find out Lizet takes an internship with one of her professors and later is given the opportunity to scuba dive near the reefs in Cuba. Lizet takes the opportunity knowing that her family would be upset by it.

I think it is very disgraceful that college students in Georgia burned the book. Overall the book was very tame, but Capó Crucet did not always write the white characters favorably, but this was with good intention and probably true to the author’s experience. And to be fair I don’t think she wrote all the Cuban characters favorably either. I think maybe white people saw themselves in characters like Jillian who were ignorant and privileged and those college students were upset by that rather than actually reflecting on what the story was trying to show them. Of course, it is ridiculous and wrong to burn the book over this, but I think sometimes white people (myself included) have trouble facing their privilege, burning the book showed how unwilling those students were to hear from another perspective because they were too sensitive to hear someone call out their behavior. As well, the burning could also be over the fact that the book gave light to the plight of Cuban-American immigrants, and I wouldn’t put it passed white America to burn a book over the fact that it gives immigrants humanity, especially when we are living in a time where we have a president who is building a wall to keep immigrants out.

4 thoughts on “Week 12

  1. As for your point on Omar and Lizet’s relationship, even though Lizet said they had been together for years, the entire dynamic seemed extremely toxic on both ends. Lizet never explained to Omar how she felt about his constant berating her for going to college, and Omar of course carried out the guilt trip towards her. Omar did not tell Lizet that Lourdes had continued within the activism realm for Ariel Hernandez when she went back to college even when Lizet specifically asked if her mother was doing well and quelled her outlandish behaviors. Even though Lizet did not care in the moment if this portrayal was true or not, she later realized he fell in the same category as her other relatives who did not understand the importance of her college experience and education.

    1. I thought it was interesting you said the toxicity went both ways in their relationship. I definitely think there was a lack of communication there as Omar would repeat things Lizet had said, but she would take offense to them. I do think she could have been more upfront about her feelings, as Omar probably did not understand why that would upset her so much. I also think that Omar does not understand the value of education as much as Lizet and he kind of sides with her family, but still tries to be a little supportive, however, sometimes he is not supportive when Lizet needs it the most.

  2. I also found it very interesting to see the relationship between Lizet and Omar, throughout the book. Their relationship was very toxic to began with because at the start of the book, Lizet and Omar had broken up. Her family does not understand why Lizet and Omar, decided to break up in the first place because they all thought that the two made a great couple. Yet, throughout the book, I felt like Omare did not fully understand the importance of college education, and is not showing a great deal of support towards Lizet. Given the fact that Lizet is also dealing with other stuff around her.

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