Don’t Date Rosa Santos is an incredible debut from author, Nina Moreno about a Cuban-American young woman, Rosa lives with her Abuela in Port Coral, a small coastal town in Florida, where you can’t turn your head before one of the gossiping viejitos spreads the word. Rosa is your regular teen, well, except for the fact that she (along with the other women in her family) has been cursed by the sea and can’t fall in love with a man with a boat for fear he will meet his untimely demise.
But other than that, Rosa’s just enjoying her senior year of high school, trying her best to learn about/own her Cuban heritage despite the fact that her Abuela refuses to talk about their history, trying to decide where to go to college, and hanging with her bestie, Ana-Maria, at her parent’s bodega, El Mercado, which serves the best Cuban sandwiches, croquetas, and Cuban coffee around. Things are going just as they should until Rosa’s mom comes back into town after being gone for months and she is not the only unexpected visitor in Port Coral. Alex Aquino, a sexy guy with tattoos, a mysterious disposition, and a boat that catches Rosa’s attention from the docks.
Rosa tries her hardest to stay away from the sea, but it calls to her, and eventually, she has to respond, which leads to an adventure you don’t want to miss filled with gorgeous, lyrical prose, romance, a quest for self-discovery, and an ensemble cast of characters who jump off the page and right into your heart. So, what better way to get acquainted with the book than to chat with the cast themselves? Without further ado, let’s dig in!
Abuela, let’s start with you, why did you choose to settle in Port Coral after leaving Cuba? What do you love about it? What do you miss most about Cuba?
Pero, this is about Cuba? Nadie me dijo eso. The sea brought me here and this is where I stayed. Next question.
Can you talk to us about the spells/potions people request most often? Are there any you refuse to make?
Everyone wants better luck or easier memories, because they have pain and tired bones and don’t eat real food. Why is everything sandwiches now? So they come to me when they really need good food from home. But when they need more? I can do that too.
Lilliana, you grew up in Port Coral same as Rosa what drew you to painting? If you were to turn Port Coral into a mural, what would you paint?
Graffiti? Don’t look at me like that, Mami. I love painting because I love that it means making a mess while creating something beautiful at the same time. And Port Coral is basically already a mural, this place is almost too pretty.
Rosa, how would you describe Abuela and your mom’s parenting styles?
*laughs* Oh, wait, you’re serious? They’re night and day. And also more similar them either of them would like to admit. *ignores both of their looks*
Follow up question, Rosa, what’s the best bit of magic you’ve picked up from the Santos women?
To always be mindful of my intentions. That one can apply to a lot of things, but is especially important with magic. Also grow mint and rosemary, eat your grapes at midnight on new years, and only light candles in odd numbers.
Ana-Maria, what do you think you’ll do to keep yourself occupied if she goes to college outside of Port Coral?
Hey, I’ll be busy too. I’ve got my drums and plans and am applying to the community college...wait. My parents aren’t going to read this, right?
Ok, I’m starving, can we talk for a moment about El Mercado? Ana-Maria, what’s the best kept secret on the menu?
A croqueta sandwich. Don’t tell my dad I told you if you order it though. He’s not an off-menu kind of guy.
Rosa, Abuela, Lilliana, what are YOUR favorite El Mercado treats?
Rosa: the new pastelitos! They’re so flaky and sweet. I don’t know who’s baking them though.
Liliana: Chicharrones drenched in salt and lime.
Mimi: The lechon asado is very good.
Rosa, let’s keep it real, what was your first thought when you saw Alex?
Rosa: Oh, the new guy? I thought, “cool tattoos.”
Ana: Because you could only see his arms. You should have seen her face when he turned around.
Rosa: Um, well, yes. He has a very good face.
Alex, can you give us an in-depth description of your tattoo sleeve with some meaning behind the images?
It’s the blue waves of the sea. I’m happiest out in the water, and I like to be reminded of it when I look at my own skin.
Alright well, it’s been great to get to know all of you a bit more, one final question, if you can go around the table and answer: What does the sea mean to you?
Mimi: (Doesn’t answer but her gaze goes out the window.)
Liliana: An old dream.
Rosa: A mystery.
Ana: Beach day.
Buy a copy of Don't Date Rosa Santos wherever books are sold or borrow it from your local library!