Once Upon a Quinceañera

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August 06, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

In Once Upon a Quinceañera, Julia Alvarez bolsters her look at the quinceañera — a coming-of-age celebration for Latina girls when they turn 15 — with reflections on her own girlhood in 1960s NYC. She tracks how the tradition has bent to Americanization and commercialization, offering colorful reporting from a contemporary quinceañera in Queens (where Disney characters inspired the celebrant’s court) and interviews with those in the multimillion-dollar industry (a third-generation party photographer in Miami stands out). Alvarez’s honest grappling with her caught-between-two-cultures experience is compelling, even when the book’s My Super Sweet 16 aspects start to grate. B

Once Upon a Quinceañera

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Once Upon a Quinceañera

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