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Publisher's Summary

"The energy. The clarity. The beauty. Elisabet Velasquez brings it all. . . . Her voice is FIRE!"—NYT bestselling and award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson

An unforgettable, torrential, and hopeful debut young adult novel-in-verse that redefines what it means to "make it,” for listeners of Nicholasa Mohr and Elizabeth Acevedo.

Sarai is a first-generation Puerto Rican question asker who can see with clarity the truth, pain, and beauty of the world both inside and outside her Bushwick apartment. Together with her older sister, Estrella, she navigates the strain of family traumas and the systemic pressures of toxic masculinity and housing insecurity in a rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn. Sarai questions the society around her, her Boricua identity, and the life she lives with determination and an open heart, learning to celebrate herself in a way that she has long been denied.

When We Make It is a love letter to anyone who was taught to believe that they would not make it. To those who feel their emotions before they can name them. To those who still may not have all the language but they have their story. Velasquez’ debut novel is sure to leave an indelible mark on all who read it.

©2021 Elisabet Velasquez (P)2021 Listening Library

Critic Reviews

YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults
Indies Introduce and Next List selection
Kirkus Reviews Best Books
School Library Journal Best Books
Chicago Public Library Best Teen Fiction
Américas Award Commended Title
ALA Rise: A Feminist Book Project selection
In the Margins Book Award Top Ten selection
NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books
The News & Observer Best Books for Kids
Gotham Book Prize finalist

*“A gem for pleasure reading as well as classroom use. . . . Raw, breathtaking, and brilllant.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

*“Exquisite poetry portrays not only anger and fear, but also hope . . . Gripping and soulful, this dynamic debut novel-in-verse is a must for every collection.”—School Library Journal, starred review

*“The candid, clear-eyed poetry contains powerful inquiries about [Sarai’s] diasporic Nuyorican identity and canny observations about the endemic social and racial inequities that surround her. . . . Together, these vignettes capture Sarai’s multilayered, heartbreaking, and hopeful coming of age.”—Horn Book, starred review 

What listeners say about When We Make It

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Beautiful. Impactful. Real

It stuck with me that Sarai felt like her history had been erased, and Elizabeth made sure that no puertorican NY girl ever feels that way. She made history.

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Enjoyed Every Second

Yes as an adult I am consistently reading YA to recommend to my students and to find stories that had yet to be written for myself as I grew up. These amazing stories and experiences that represent me culturally did not exist so reading them now as an adult helps to heal that emptiness of not finding someone like me in literature. I look forward to the next book!

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Beautiful portrait of a Newyorican

The vivid imagery, authentic expressions of her life story made this a beautiful book to listen. Gracias por la oportunidad- for letting us outsiders glimpse into your stories and life.

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Wonderful!

Beautiful, heartbreaking, engrossing and totally worth it to have the audio version! Elisabet’s voice transports you and all the characters come alive.

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Amazing

Elizabeth speaks and brings words to life she describes the hood her hood like I do mine, which not many know how to do. I can’t wait to read more of her !!!

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Poetic and entertaining.

A poetic read of growing up in Bushwick. The story is filled with love, laughter, sadness and victory. Highly recommend.

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Poetry is for all — listen to this book and find out why 😇

Prose poetry is the future and I’m here for it and listening to this debut book is like listening to true words come alive with so much heart and realness that is unmatched unless you dare to dive deep and Velasquez does that exactly! 💖👌🏽💯

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YES YES YES!!!

I read the book, but following this poet on Instagram I knew the audiobook would be spectacular and it did not disappoint. Her voice is loud, is raw, is transparent, is authentic and I recommend everyone listen to this audible so that they can really feel every sensation she transmits in a short amount of words. This was music to my ears and I believe it will be for you too.

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So relatable

This book of poems is definitely one I’m recommending to my family ! So relatable , and touching. Im a girl from LA who’s family migrated from El Salvador during the 80s and yet this book has touched on so many of my personal experiences. Love love love !

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Vaya

I've been following Elizabet since the early Capicu Culture days. I was a bit disappointed when I found out she wasn't releasing a poetry collection. But truth is there is plenty of poetry here. As a Puerto Rican from Brooklyn the story a characters were very familiar. Super solid debut. I'll be picking this up physically for my collection.