Once Upon a Quinceanera

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Once Upon a Quinceanera

The quinceañera, the fifteenth birthday celebration for a Latina girl, is quickly becoming an American event. This legendary party is a sight to behold: lavish ball gowns, extravagant catered meals, DJs, limousines, and multi-tiered cakes. The must haves for a "quince" are becoming as numerous and costly as a prom or wedding. And yet, this elaborate ritual also hearkens back to traditions from native countries and communities, offering young Latinas a chance to connect with their heritage. 

In Once Upon a Quinceañera, Julia Alvarez explores this celebration that brings a Latina girl into womanhood. She attends the quince of a young woman named "Monica" who lives in Queens, and witnesses the commotion, confusion, and potential for disaster that comes with planning this important event. Alvarez also weaves in interviews with other quince girls, her own memories of coming of age as an immigrant, and the history of the custom itself—how it originated and what has changed as Latinas become accustomed to a supersize American culture. Once Upon a Quinceañera is an enlightening, accessible, and entertaining portrait of contemporary Latino culture as well as a critical look at the rituals of coming of age and the economic and social consequences of the quince parties. Julia Alvarez’s dedicated fans will be eager to hear her thoughts on this topic. It is a great book for anyone interested in American youth today—parents, teachers, and teenagers themselves. Once, the quinceañera marked a noble girl’s passage to adulthood and her availability for possible marriage. The tradition, which dates back to Aztec culture, was carried northward with the migration of Latin culture. Once across the border, the ceremony became something of a status symbol, with families spending astronomical sums on the pink dresses, DJs, limousines, and high heels that now mark these Latina girls’ 15th-birthday celebrations. Drawing on her own experience as an...
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