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Habia una vez una quinceanera: De niña a mujer en EE.UU.

3.36  ·  Rating Details  ·  685 Ratings  ·  142 Reviews
A "phenomenal, indispensable" (USA Today) exploration of the Latina "sweet fifteen" celebration, by the bestselling author of How the García Girls Lost Their Accents

The quinceañera, a celebration of a Latina girl's fifteenth birthday, has become a uniquely American trend. This lavish party with ball gowns, multi-tiered cakes, limousines, and extravagant meals is often as
Paperback, 320 pages
Published July 29th 2008 by Plume (first published January 1st 2007)
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Mar 29, 2016 Brina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Julia Alvarez has a knack for making me laugh. In this non fiction account, Alvarez examines the Quinceanera as a celebration in American culture. She follows Monica Ramos of Queens as she prepares for her own Quinceanera in order to view the pros and cons of the coming of age ritual.
Alvarez research took her to many communities so she could present a multi faceted account. She spoke with photographers in Miami, party planners in San Antonio, church groups in Colorado, the Ramos family in New Y
Feb 21, 2008 Hilary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very thought-provoking and well-written. I was interested in the documentation of the quinceanera: the rituals, the meaning, etc., since I am Jewish and I didn't know anyone who had one (but I did have a Bat Mitzvah!). I felt that at the end the autobiographical stuff was a little tangential to her main point, but interesting nonetheless. I think it is important that authors examine the issues around being a Latina. At the same time, I think that some of the issues she explores around being lost ...more
Jun 01, 2014 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A few years back, Eva read and reviewed this book and inspired me to buy it. And it’s been sitting on my shelf ever since. I am not sure what finally pushed me to read it but I finally did, and I was rewarded by that decision by an excellent look at a cultural ritual that is quickly becoming as mainstream as weddings and funerals.

What I really liked about this book was how it was a mixture of journalism, cultural analysis, and it had a memoir feel at times as well. Alvarez digs deep into the his
Apr 18, 2010 Jeanette rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
let me begin by stating that i really really really like julia alvarez. i have been waiting to read this forever, and was so excited to finally receive it.

and so disappointed after reading it. i felt like this was two or three books in one. i was expecting more about actual quinceaneras and why they are tradiation. the last 100 pages or so is all about julia alvarez's life- having nothing to do with quinces. it was as if she ran out of material so started her own biography.

she also ends with qu
Feb 11, 2010 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I really enjoyed this book, the second I've read by Alvarez. (The first was her first novel which I didn't know was an autobiographical account until some details early on in this book connected it for me.)Much more than just a historical account of quinceañeras, Alvarez explores the present day tradition noting how it has changed/is changing as elements of American culture were/are infused with it and seeks to discover the impact quinceañeras have on girls.

Reflecting on the interviews with quin

Jul 24, 2011 Cynthia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really thought-provoking read. Perhaps just as relevant to the sweet sixteen crowd, but addressing issues specifically related to young Latinas. There are huge markets out there selling all kinds of princess-related things to girls - but for those girls who are at risk, it's a real tragedy to be deluding them with this "princess for a day" business when they're likely to end up high school drop outs, single moms, and/or having drug related issues. Even girls who aren't on that path but are just ...more
Margaret Sankey
This is an anthropological study of Quinceanera in Hispanic-American communities in the US--what was once a signal that a young woman was available to be courted at 15 is now an opportunity to stress staying in school and grown-up plans for the future, but is also the occasion for lavish celebrations parallel to debutante balls in WASP circles with all the costuming and rituals (and expense). Alvarez clearly spent a lot of time and gained the confidence of a variety of families to get an inside ...more
Meghan Gerke

This coming age story follows the author as she travels the country helping to celebrate the 15th birthdays of Hispanic girls. While she is on her journey to gather information about modern Quinceaneras she begins to reconnect with her own.
I personally wasn't a huge fan of the book. Although the information that was given was very good and insightful, the way that is was presented was scattered and hard to follow. She really tried to give the reader a lot of information at the begging of the n
Apr 28, 2014 Marisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

Once Upon a Quinceanera is a nonfiction book written by Julia Alvarez. Julia was asked by an editor to write a book about the Latino tradition. In her book she specialized on the elaborate and ritualized parties, known as quinceaneras. The Plot of this story was realistic, since it is a nonfiction book, and Julia Alvarez did a splendid job on helping the reader understand the comparison between the American culture and Latino culture, which helped the story make sense.
The majority of the setting
Mar 10, 2009 Rosa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Good Grief! This was pure fluff! And very disappointing coming from one of my favourite authors. This read like a term paper and really wasn't worth the effort or time. It basically focuses on the 15th birthday celebrations of Latinos in USA. I got the message after the first chapter the rest was the same thing over, and over again. Give this one a miss
Apr 13, 2016 Dan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
see my review for time out new york:


If you liked this, make sure to follow me on Goodreads for more reviews!
Feb 05, 2016 Sylver rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vcfa-3-1
Super informative and thought provoking. The writing is amazing--it's Julia Alvarez after all.
Pam Kirst
Mar 01, 2014 Pam Kirst rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once Upon as Quinceanara: Coming of Age in the USA
by Julia Alvarez

“What KIND of book is that?” asks my son, and I ponder. Is Once Upon a Quinceanara: Coming of Age in the USA a memoir? Sort of. It’s also, a little bit, investigative journalism. There’s poetry dancing through the language on its pages. It’s also, maybe, a cautionary tale, philosophy, and a prophecy.

“It’s…non-fiction,” I tell him. He nods.

I could have said, “It’s a book about stories: the ones we tell our children; the ones someon
I'm not Hispanic or Latino, but accidentally marked that I was Hispanic on a standardized test once. I was on a mailing list for Hispanic summer camps, scholarships, and school clubs well into my sophomore year of college.

This book followed the author as she spent a year attending quinceaneras, researching the underlying traditions, and reflecting on her own upbringing as an immigrant caught between two cultures - not only her Dominican Republic heritage and new American culture but also the tr
"Once upon a Quincanera" is a mix between one girls quincanera and Julia Alvarez's life and experience with quincaneras in the United States. In the book you learn that here in America, Quinces are over dramatized and usually involve the parents of the quince spending obscene amounts of money in order for thier daughter to achieve the perfect party.

I can make a text to self connection with this book. I understand why the girls who are having the quincanera's really want a big, lavish party, beca
Jul 26, 2015 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

When my husband took ESL classes at BYU-Hawaii, one gringo teacher prefaced his lesson on American essay structure by comparing it to the Asian and Latin structures and declaring the American essay superior. (Eddie had problems in this class, not surprisingly.) The teacher graphically represented the Latin structure as a spiral and the American structure as a flawless straight line - which I would like to argue with him over. This book was written in true spiral format, wandering through Latin n
Christine Henry
Aug 18, 2009 Christine Henry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a wonderful exploration of the coming of age ceremony, quinceanera, in Latino communities around the US. Equally intriguing were the cross-cultural comparisons of other contemporary ceremonies. It inspired a lot of thought about how we convey to our young people that not only do we want to guide them, but that we value them as individuals as well as part of the next generation to carry on tradition. Most thought-provoking was the ongoing comparisons between quince celebrations in other ...more
I thought this was very interesting. Before I listened to this audiobook, I knew nothing of Quinceaneras. Alvarez not only takes a look at the history and traditions, but also describes the pros and cons of this coming of age ceremony for young Latina women. This study is far from dry and I found Alvarez descriptions of the craziness that surrounds the special day entertaining and other parts and passages thought provoking and beautiful.

Note: This was a book that I received from a member of
Sep 13, 2007 Jill rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Armchair Sociologists
The author writes about quinceaneras, the Hispanic tradition of celebrating a girl's 15th birthday as her becoming a woman (sort of like a Bar Mitzpah in the Jewish culture). She discusses how commercialized and out of control these celebrations have become, burdening many low income families who feel they have to go all out, as well as the way they reinforce traditional patriarchal beliefs of presenting women as marriagable. She also explores the up side, that women get to feel like queens for ...more
Aug 14, 2007 Lesley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: women, people interested in cultural anthropology or anyone interested in quinceaneras
I was really surprised that Julia Alvarez was writing a nonfiction book about quinceaneras, because it seems like the "it's an exploding trend!" topic has been written about over and over again. The book does have some new things to say, though. Alvarez takes an in-depth look at what's wrong with the current quinceanera tradition and also what's valuable about it, from an anthroplogical standpoint. She talks about the crisis that young Latinas are facing, and whether or not this "rite of passage ...more
Nov 30, 2008 Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have an interest in coming of age rituals and celebrations. I love birthdays, but the ones with particular meaning in different cultures and socio-economic groups hold particular interest - including bar and bat mitzvahs, Sweet Sixteens (thanks to MTV for indulging this fascination), debutante balls, and the quinceanera. Recently, there seems to have been a rash of books and movies about this latin phenomenon. In this non-fiction book by the author of How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, A ...more
Jan 09, 2009 Phyllis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Julia Alvarez -- of "How the Garcia Girls..." -- has written a non-fiction examination (published in 2007) of not only the 15-year-old Latina celebration but a searching look at the economic and social look at the history of the adolescent Latina in her "home country" culture and her place in the USA of today. She has traveled all over the country to interview all the participants in the religious and social parts of the big day. In addition, she threads her own story of growing up Latina in th ...more
Feb 22, 2008 Antoinette rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: NOT women about to celebrate their Quince, culture nerds, fans of Alvarez
This is the first book of Julia Alvarez's that I have finished all the way through. It was somewhat informative, but there should have been two books. I imagine when writing about your own culture it is difficult to ignore the parallels of your own life, but including so much personal information discredits the research she has done. I realize she probably wasn't aiming towards a serious academic work, but one needs to be written. By publishing this "fluffy non-fiction she has not filled a void, ...more
Feb 10, 2013 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an examination of the fifteenth birthday parties that have been a tradition in some Latin American families. Alvarez reveals her own personal history as a child of the Dominican Republic, and explores the many Latina/Latino cultures that have come to embrace this celebration even though it never existed in the Old Country. From the families that have no money and mortgage their lives, to the actual moneyed families that can afford a huge party for hundreds at Disney World, Alvarez interv ...more
Kaite Stover
A much better listen than a read. Daphne Rubin Vega (of Rent fame) does a great job with the narration and captures all the voices of the girls very well, including that of the author.

This is a book that will only appeal to teen girls, and probably initially to Latinas, even thought the author addressed the social custom of coming-of-age parties, whether they are quinces or sweet sixteens. It's a bit too scholarly in tone and there's more information on the author's own childhood which doesn't g
Shauna Corona
a very interesting read, did not sway my opinion of quinceaneras. I still do not agree with them and think they are an old custom. they degrade our daughters and perpetuates Machismo in our culture. there are so many more things our daughters can do in this world not just get married and have babies.
LFPL Teen Services
Sep 23, 2007 LFPL Teen Services rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: adults interested in learning more about quinceaneras
Half of this book was great; I loved the drama of the quince (yet didn't seem to be enough of Monica's story). I enjoyed the research that Julia Alvarez did, several time I "hmmph"-ed out loud. I do wonder why the author/editor spent so much time dwelling on her own coming of age and the absence of a quinceanera in her life. I suppose it was to wonder at her own outcome without having one.

I would have loved this story if Alvarez decided to weave each of the girls she interviewed stories into th
Mar 30, 2016 Alyssa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The organization of this books was confusing. I would have enjoyed it more if there wasn't abrupt breaks between anecdotes and examining the modern practice of a quinceanera. Although it was an enjoyable, easy read, it didn't do much to give me new information about a quinceanera.
Dec 27, 2013 Shelley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting history of quinceaneras, and I liked learning about the different types of parties that the girls have, and the cultural significance of the rituals. I wish that the author had included more details about the other quinceaneras that she attended, though. She mentioned going to several, but only really described one. There was more autobiography than I was hoping for...particularly more about the author's 20s. I understand why she wrote about herself at 15, but then it see ...more
Feb 17, 2008 Mishele rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this thoughtful book. It certainly opened my eyes to the broader picture of this large and ever growing phenomenon called the quinceanera. The author has a skill and talent at weaving an expansive topic from history of cultures and mother-daughter relationships to education gaps and the marketing of lifestyle to vulnerable people. She touches on all this and more while adding validity to the point by sharing her own story of growing up as an immigrant in the United States.

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Madison Mega-Mara...: Once Upon a Quinceanera: Coming of Age in the USA 1 4 Feb 18, 2012 05:48PM  
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Julia Álvarez was born in New York City. Her parents moved back to the Dominican Republic when Álvarez was 3 months old and she was raised there until she was 10, when the family moved back to NYC.

She is currently writer-in-residence at Middlebury College and the owner of a coffee farm named Alta Gracia, near Jarabacoa in the mountains of the Dominican Republic. The farm hosts a school to teach l
More about Julia Alvarez...

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