Once upon a Quinceanera
I just finished the book Once upon a Quinceanera by Julia Alvarez. I picked it up, hoping to gain more insight into the rituals and religious significance of the quince. When I’ve said this to people, they almost always tell me something to the effect of, “oh, that’s easy. It’s a hispanic girl’s coming-of-age.” Yeah. No kidding? I’m looking for a little more depth here.
If my encounters’ answer was too vague (not to mention obvious), Alvarez’s response was way too deep. It was not so much about the celebration itself, but more of an examination of the issues adolescent girls face in the US in general, compounded by the additional issues particular to young latinas. It was a very interesting study in the success and failure of said girls, feminism minus man-hating, and the pros and cons of the quinceanera. But not as an outsider looking in. Alvarez herself had a difficult time finding the balance between being the good Dominican girl, and pursuing her own dreams and interests–loyalty to la familia, pursuing her education and being an intellectual, staying afloat professionally in a male-dominated time where it was difficult to be hispanic, let alone a woman.
Though it was not what I was looking for, I liked it. Though I myself am not hispanic, I found myself identifying with Alvarez throughout the book. It was interesting and entertaining.
Find other reviews of this book here: http://www.austinchronicle.com/books/2007-08-03/510907/
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