Make Your Home Among Strangers



St. Martin's Press, August 4, 2015


Picador, September 12, 2016


A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice

Winner of the International Latino Book Award for Best Latino-themed Fiction

Longlisted for the 2015 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize

Named a best book of the season by CosmopolitanVanity FairHarper's Bazaar, The GuardianRedbookBustleNBC Latino and Men's Journal

About the Book

When Lizet—the daughter of Cuban immigrants and the first in her family to graduate from high school—is secretly accepted to an ultra-elite college, her parents are furious at her decision to leave Miami. Just weeks before she's set to start school, her parents divorce and her father sells her childhood home, leaving Lizet, her mother, and Lizet's older sister scrambling for a place to live.

Amid this turmoil, Lizet begins her first semester at Rawlings College, but the privileged environment feels utterly foreign, as does her new awareness of herself as a minority. Struggling to cope, she returns to Miami for a surprise Thanksgiving visit, only to be overshadowed by the arrival of Ariel Hernandez, a young boy whose mother died fleeing with him from Cuba on a raft. The ensuing immigration battle puts Miami in a glaring spotlight, captivating the nation and entangling Lizet's entire family. Pulled between life at college and her family's needs, Lizet is faced with difficult decisions that will change her life forever. Urgent and mordantly funny, Make Your Home Among Strangers tells the new story of what it means to be American today.

Praise for Make Your Home Among Strangers

“Crucet's smart, scathing, and hilarious depiction of a Cuban-American girl at a fancy northeastern university is set in 1999—and involves an Elián González-inspired subplot—but its incisive take on race and class makes it both urgently of-the-moment and destined to be a classic.”

Curtis SittenfeldVanity Fair


"Sharply funny."

— The New York Times
(Editor's Choice)


“A brilliantly crafted, sumptuous tale.”

— Booklist, starred review


“Few [debut novels] are as furious, funny or thorny as this one . . . Crucet captures the vernacular of Lizet's world at home and the unbearable alienation in her campus life and with a realness that's hard to forget.”

— Entertainment Weekly


“Anyone who has read Jennine Capó Crucet's story collection, How to Leave Hialeah, knows that she is a wonderful writer. Still, I was unprepared for the power of her debut novel, Make Your Home Among Strangers, which I found wise and honest, a love letter to Miami that doubles as a furious and funny manifesto about cultural and familial expectations.”

Lauren GroffThe Monsters of Templeton and Arcadia


"Jennine Capó Crucet's debut novel, about a whip-smart daughter of Cuban immigrants who leaves her Miami home against her parents' wishes to attend an elite college, will inevitably resonate among first-generation Americans . . . but the themes of the book are also universal enough to appeal to a wider audience . . . . Lizet will be recognizable to many children of immigrants who have a foot in two distinct cultures and, often, different social classes. Her flaws make her a believable character, and her flashes of insight . . . will compel many readers to nod their heads in familiarity."

— The Guardian (Best Latin American Book of Fall 2015)


"[Make Your Home Among Strangers] illuminates Lizet's conflicting emotions with honest prose, while an Elián González-inspired subplot underscores her struggle. Lizet's efforts to navigate a world of mostly white privilege are told with self-deprecating humor and an understanding of the awkward conversations many students must have in their first years in college."

— Los Angeles Times


"It's difficult to adequately capture the tension of first-generation college life in popular culture. The stress, the psychological and emotional conflict, and the strain placed on familial relationships and friendships are too often secreted away, in order to advance an inspiring narrative of achievement against all odds. Crucet is masterful at complicating that narrative of uplift, managing to make her fictional protagonist's struggles . . . haunting and compelling. Make Your Home Among Strangers is a deserving addition to a small, but necessary body of work committed to honest representations of academic striving among those who have been under-prepared and under-supported."

— Stacia L. BrownThe Washington Post


“Heartfelt . . . Being caught between two cultures is a usefully troubling condition for the writer intent on dramatizing the confusion, pain and humor of having what Crucet calls 'double vision,' and Crucet, the award-winning author of a story collection delivers on all three. Sharp cultural observations and terrific dialogue keep the reader engaged.”

— Kathryn MaNew York Times Book Review


“A thrilling, deeply fulfilling journey of a young woman stepping into her own power. This debut novel from Crucet heralds the birth of a talented novelist to watch.”

— Kirkus Reviews, starred review


“Superb . . . Crucet expertly summons the wrenching disconnect between immigrant parents and their offspring. . . With this personal coming-of-age novel, Crucet offers us a piercing window into what it means to grow up.”

— Miami Herald


“If you've ever felt out of your depth, you'll instantly connect with Lizet Ramirez, the protagonist of the new novel Make Your Home Among Strangers . . . Her eye-opening year will encourage you to replace other people's expectations of you with your own.”

— Redbook


“Jennine Capó Crucet renders this coming-of-age story with dazzling élan, full of moment both bittersweet and messy, heartfelt and honest. This is the type of debut novel that leaves you wanting more - in a good way. I can't wait to see what Crucet does next.”

— BuzzFeed


“In her remarkable debut, Jennine Capó Crucet writes authentically about the experience of being Cuban-American on a macro scale, but also about the smaller heartaches of embarking on adulthood far from home.”

— Bustle


“In this dazzling debut novel, a young female protagonist is also caught between the impulse to define herself independently of her family's past and the pressure to never stray far from home and its bittersweet cultural values.”

— NBC Latino


“A classic coming of age tale... It's a playful and touching look at Miami and the lives that are lived in it, and it's definitely worth reading. Crucet just might be the literary voice that the Magic City has been waiting for.”

— Miami New Times


“An unusually comic and wise look at the dream of leaving home and that dream's ambivalent reality . . . as fun to read as it is essential. Crucet writes with insight and flair about resilience, loyalty, and the fight to find home again once you've left it.”



“This coming-of-age story achieves a wry and wistful tone. Debut novelist Crucet depicts with insight and subtlety the culture shock, confusion, guilt, and humiliations of the first-generation college student surrounded by privilege.”

— Library Journal


“Jennine Capó Crucet's sharply observed first novel captures the profound disorientation of leaving the world that reared you: once you have made your home among strangers, home itself often transforms into a strange place. Recounted with wry humor and heartbreaking honesty, Lizet's struggle is a poignant exploration of a young woman's evolving relationship to her culture, her family, and her own identity.”

— Celeste Ng, Everything I Never Told You and Little Fires Everywhere


Make Your Home Among Strangers is a vivid, exuberant novel begging to devoured in one sitting. Hilarious and relentlessly honest, our narrator Lizet is the embodiment of the guilt, anger, and chronic homesickness so often the side effects of being educated away from who you once were. Hers is an utterly American story, yet one hardly told, and Jennine Capó Crucet tells it with a combination of wisdom and urgency that is as rare as it is invigorating.”

— Claire Vaye WatkinsGold Fame Citrus and Battleborn


Make Your Home Among Strangers is a gorgeous, sad, and poignantly hysterical exploration of what it means to be homesick for a place that doesn't exist. As Lizet moves between experiences of displacement and recreates the story of who she is over and over again, she is both pulled away from the friends and family who no longer recognize her day to day life, and drawn into a closer understanding of what it has meant for each of the people she loves to define the trajectory of how they got from the places they started to the places they find themselves. Crucet is a distinct and important voice, and this novel is both a profound pleasure to read and a painful reminder of the real human costs of living in two places at once.”

— Danielle Evans, Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self,
winner of the 2011 PEN American Robert W. Bingham Prize


“Crucet's first novel is a masterpiece of contemporary fiction that dramatizes the intersection of race, class, geography, and education and shows the effects of being American on the human heart. Crucet manages the layers of self and emotion of her characters with wisdom and intelligence to create a commanding, urgent coming-of-age story. First class work.” 

— David Treuer, Rez Life: An Indian's Journey Through Reservation Life and Little



“Crucet brilliantly brings to life the experience of a first-generation college student navigating an all-too-realistic elite school in an age where diversity initiatives do little to offset the air of privilege that permeates its halls, customs and — especially — its dormitories. Lizet is a heroine who is not only thoroughly believable but one we can't help but root for.”

Adelle Waldman, author of The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.