Down to the Bone by Mayra Lazara Dole

Rating: 9/10 ★★★★★★★★★☆ 
Title: Down to the Bone
Author: Mayra Lazara Dole
Genre: Young Adult
URL: Harper Teen
Price: US$16.99
Summary [from the publisher]:
Here’s what it means to be a tortillera.

It means you’re a girl who loves girls.

Which means you get kicked out of Catholic school faster than Mother Superior Sicko can say “immoral.”

Which means your wacko Mami finds out.

Which means you’re kicked to the curb with nowhere to go, and the love of your life is shipped off to Puerto Rico to marry a guy.

But this is Miami, and if you have a bighearted best friend and a loyal puppy at your side, and if your broken heart is still full of love, you just might land on your feet.

In a first novel as crazy, joyful, hilarious, and painful as your first love, Mayra Lazara Dole goes beyond the many meanings of tortillera to paint a vivid picture of a girl who gets kicked out of home only to find a new kind of family.

My review:
Laura is a junior in a Catholic high school looking forward to summer and to celebrating her two-year anniversary with her girlfriend, Marlena. Instead, she is humiliated when her teacher reads a love letter from Marlena out loud in front of all her friends, resulting in her expulsion from school and in the loss of her friends. Her mother has thrown Laura out of the house, promising that she can return only when she reveals the name of her secret lover and changes her ways.

Laura moves in with her best friend, Soli, and her mom. Her life takes a turn for the worse when Marlena’s family arranges for her to be wed to a man in Puerto Rico.

Down to the Bone is a warm, colorful, funny, and heartbreaking story with a great cast of characters that provides a glimpse into the rich, diverse, and fascinating culture of the Cuban community in Miami.

This is a great teen book, but also a lot of fun for adults too. There’s a glossary in the back of Cuban slang and commonly used words and phrases. This is a wonderful story that’s all about love, discovering oneself, finding acceptance, family bonds, friendships, food, laughter, and valuing differences.