Ataveirra, aka Ati, a 17-year-old New York Puerto Rican, lives at home with her loving but overwhelming family: her father Albizu, her mom Viveca, and her younger brother Omar. When Albizu’s estranged father announces he is coming to visit for the first time in ten years, Albizu becomes obsessed with fixing up their crummy apartment and exotic bird shop. Ati is then forced to give up working with her beloved contemporary dance group in order to help prepare, but she manages to find time for a new dance partner, Sterling, a classmate who has more than a professional interest in her. However, Ati is oblivious to his affection, all caught up in her attraction to Vincent, a local playboy. Ati learns he has a steady girlfriend and tries to resist him, but each time is harder, so explosive is the chemistry between them.
As the family prepares for Abuelo’s impending visit, Ati’s world becomes more and more complicated. The time spent with Albizu seems to help mend the rift that many old arguments have driven between them. But as her bond with Sterling grows stronger, so does her attraction to Vincent, and she ultimately gives in to him. The result is heartbreak – both for Sterling, who loves Ati but can’t tell her, and for Ati, who is inevitably abandoned by Vincent.
At home, Viveca discovers Albizu has been cheating on her – not an uncommon occurrence – and things go from bad to worse when Albizu’s father dies before reaching New York. The family travels to Puerto Rico for the funeral, causing Ati to miss a crucial dance audition. Albizu’s pain is as deep as was his joy to see his father, and he drowns his sorrows in alcohol.
Back in New York, Albizu sinks more deeply into depression, and proclaims that neither one of his children will amount to anything. When Ati stands up to him, a physical confrontation ensues which will change their relationship dramatically. Despite the pain, both physical and emotional, Ati manages to pursue her passion and has a successful audition with Sterling. She understands the support Sterling has been offering her, and she decides to take refuge with him. As she leaves home to take her destiny into her own hands, Ati takes her first steps as an adult.
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