Book Review: Don’t Date Rosa Santos

Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno
Release Date: May 14, 2019
Genres: YA contemporary
Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 

Rosa Santos is cursed by the sea-at least, that’s what they say. Dating her is bad news, especially if you’re a boy with a boat.

But Rosa feels more caught than cursed. Caught between cultures and choices. Between her abuela, a beloved healer and pillar of their community, and her mother, an artist who crashes in and out of her life like a hurricane. Between Port Coral, the quirky South Florida town they call home, and Cuba, the island her abuela refuses to talk about.

As her college decision looms, Rosa collides – literally – with Alex Aquino, the mysterious boy with tattoos of the ocean whose family owns the marina. With her heart, her family, and her future on the line, can Rosa break a curse and find her place beyond the horizon?

I feel conflicted right now. I can’t really say what didn’t work for me, I just know that something was off. Don’t Date Rosa Santos follows three generations of Santos women the curse that follows them. 

Sometimes it felt like the idea of being cursed was all in my head. Like it was a fabled warning to remind me to work hard and focus on my goals. The women before me had lost too much for me to be anything but firmly focused on the future. I was meant to achieve and make all of the loss, heartache, and sacrifices mean something.

This was beautifully written, truly. I loved the writing and the dialogue between the characters. I love how the author blended in some Spanish, it made everything feel so authentic. There was a major theme of grief in the story, which was surprising! I did not get anything like that from the blurb so it was a bit unexpected. Moreno’s writing was lyrical, but not over the top at all which I appreciated.

I was a collection of hyphens and bilingual words. Always caught in between. Two schools, two languages, two countries. Never quite right or enough for either.

The romance, while not central to the story was adorable. It took me a bit to warm up to Rosa and Alex, I ended up really rooting for them. I do feel like the blurb was a bit misleading though. It made it sound like the curse and the romance would play a bigger part in the story, but that wasn’t true at all. I guess if that’s good or bad depends on who you ask, but if you were looking for a romance, while adorable, it was a bit underwhelming here. So as a romance fan I wish there had been a little bit more.

I think it was two main things that stopped me from rating this higher. First was the characters, while I liked Rosa, there were a lot of side characters that I wasn’t particularly interested in. There were also so many of them, it was hard to keep everyone straight in my head. Second was the pacing. It felt like not much was happened in the first half and then too much happened at the end. It felt a bit rushed.

There was some good mixed in her though. Like I said I loved Rosa. Her obsession with a place she’s never been and her journey to find where she belongs was amazing. She felt real and relatable. I also liked the setting of a small town called Port Coral in Florida. 

Everything I knew about Cuba came from this coastal town, hundreds of miles from the island that was so unknown to me. I met my culture in the food I ate at our table, the songs that played on my abuela’s record player, and the stories that flowed through the bodega and Ana- Maria’s lively home. But I couldn’t find my family in those stories. I couldn’t find me.

While this won’t be a favorite, I am glad I read it. 

three stars

One thought on “Book Review: Don’t Date Rosa Santos

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s