Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno: A Review & A Few Recommendations

Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Morena
Published: May 14, 2019 by Disney-Hyperion
Genre: Contemporary | Audience: Young Adult
Source: Library/Audiobook
Rating: 4/5 stars

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?


Don’t Date Rosa Santos is one of the cutest rom-coms I’ve read recently. I had it on my TBR, but it didn’t become a priority until I found out that the author is a University of Florida Gator alum and the story is set in Florida. As a Floridian and Gator alum, I moved it to the top of my list and instantly requested the audiobook at the library. Thankfully, it didn’t disappoint.

This book was a breath of fresh air. It’s an intergenerational story with a Cuban family, curses, summer romance, college decisions, and a local festival. The story is full of heart, the characters are memorable, the family and community relationship is beautiful (and complicated), and the romance is super cute. I loved the way Moreno explores Rosa’s heritage and the community’s impact on her development. Although the romance was a bit rushed, I adored Rosa’s love interest. He was incredibly sweet, hot (tattoos!) and loved to bake, which made me really happy (I don’t enjoy cooking so I like stories that switch those roles).

Overall, Don’t Date Rosa Santos is perfect for summer. Between the festival and the South Florida setting, I couldn’t help but reminisce fondly about those days when summer vacation was something I could look forward to. On top of the setting, the writing is impeccable and the themes (love, grief, complicated families, diaspora) are seamlessly weaved together. I highly recommend this and can’t wait to read more of Nina Moreno’s work.

Read-alikes and Movie Recommendations

If you like this book and are in the mood for something with a similar tone, here are a few recommendations:

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Or maybe you’re in the mood for movies instead. I’ve got you covered.

Always Be My Maybe (Netflix)
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (Netflix)
Crazy Rich Asians (Available on iTunes, Redbox, and possibly your local library)
Real Women Have Curves (iTunes, Amazon Prime, and possibly your local library) – This one has a bit more drama, but the themes are similar to Don’t Date Rosa Santos

Have you read Don’t Date Rosa Santos? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Thanks so much for reading!

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