Joseph, Lynn. Flowers in the Sky
5 March 2013, HarperTeen
Nina is quite happy living in the Dominican Republic seaside town of Samana, but her mother thinks that Nina would be better of in the US, where she might be able to find a rich husband and send money back home. Nina's brother, Darrio, has been in the US a number of years, and when Nina's mother thinks Nina is becoming to forward with men, Nina is packed off to Washington Heights, New York City to go to high school and then college. Since Nina's favorite thing to do is to garden, her brother's barren, asphalt surrounded apartment is a grim place to be. The neighborhood is full of other Dominicans, and Nina finds a local barber, Luis, very attractive. Her brother doesn't approve of him, however, so Nina briefly dates a boy from her high school, Carlos, who wants to be a doctor. The owner of a local grocery, Senora Rivera, also loves gardens, and encourages Nina to grow orchids. Darrio, however, seems to have unhealthy business connections, and having observed drug deals going down in the neighborhood, Nina becomes concerned that he is involved with shady people and will come to grief. It's hard enough to adjust to life in a big city, and even harder when Darrio finally gets into trouble, but with the help of Luis and Senora Rivera, Nina will be able to prosper.
Strengths: This was a nice, short romance book with lots of interesting cultural touches. My students have little idea what life is like in NY City, much less in the Dominican Republic. I liked that Nina would rather be on the island, that she had issues with her mother, and that she had a particular interest(gardening) but still wanted to do well in school.
Weaknesses: The print seemed small on this one, and I preferred Carlos to Luis!