Make your home among strangers by Jeanine Capo Crucet (St. Martin’s Press, 2015).
This novel, about first-generation Cuban-American college student Lizet, centers around a news story I vaguely recall reading in 1999: the Cuban boy whose mother tried to escape with him by boat to Miami and was eventually taken back to Cuba by his father. In this book Lizet’s mother was the spokesperson for a group trying to keep the child in the U.S., a group whose hopes were ultimately dashed. Everyone in Lizet’s family feels that the rest have abandoned them. Lizet and her sister feel that their Dad has abandoned them by divorcing their mom; her sister feels abandoned by her boyfriend who didn’t marry her when she got pregnant; and they all (especially Lizet’s boyfriend) think Lizet has abandoned them by going away to college in New York. So Lizet’s mom acts out by making up an entirely different family to the Cuban-American protest group, pretending her real family doesn’t exist. Little wonder that Lizet struggles in her first year of college. But she sticks it out and finds her niche as a budding laboratory scientist.