Jill's Reviews > Once Upon a Quinceanera: Coming of Age in the USA

Once Upon a Quinceanera by Julia Alvarez
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Sep 13, 2007

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Recommended for: Armchair Sociologists
Read in September, 2007

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 a day and that it can be an empowering experience. This for me was an okay book. I liked that she attended quinceaneras and talked a lot about the girls and their personalities and her conversations with them, and the girls interactions with their families. I thought the overview of how quinceaneras are celebrated in different Hispanic cultures was good. I also liked the author's parallel to her own life as a Dominican immigrant growing up in America. However... I didn't really find her search for meaning in the tradition all that interesting. I didn't really follow where she was trying to go. For those who don't know about this tradition, it will be a decent introduction.
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