105 Ways to Give a Book

Quinceañero Extravaganza

With the ALA conference and the first real summer weekend, a lot of bloggers seemed to take the weekend off, so I did too. I didn’t go anywhere, but I can now walk through my living room without stepping over the contents of my daughter’s school desks. Way to go me.

Cuba 15Six days ago, I read a review on Chicken Spaghetti for a quinceañero book. In the comments, Jen Robinson mentioned how she had just reviewed a quinceañeo book and then it was noted that the book Cuba 15 is also about a quinceañero. I chimed in that I had read that book and would skim it and write about it that night.

So much for that.

I did pick up the book that Thursday, but found that I wasn’t able to just skim it. I remembered that I had read it, liked it, and recommended it for our summer reading list two years ago. But I could not remember enough about it to review it. I started to skim, but found myself continually slowing down to reading speed. I gave up, and just reread the whole thing.

Fortunately, it was a good book.

Violet has a Cuban father and Polish mother, and has spent her last 15 years staying away from Cuban culture. Her father doesn’t like to talk about Cuba, and Violet doesn’t want to cause any family controversy. Her grandmother offers to give her a quince party, and Violet reluctantly accepts. She doesn’t want a big fuss and she doesn’t want to wear a dress, but it seems to make her grandmother happy.

At the same time, Violet is getting involved with the speech team at her school. She was hand-picked to do the Original Comedy competition, even though she can’t imagine how she will write and perform something funny. She writes a piece about her Cuban relatives and learns the ropes of speech competition. She also develops her first crush and deepens her personal friendships.

The grandmother speaks a mix of Spanish and English, which gave me numerous opportunities to try my high school Spanish. For me, it was more the recognition factor at play than actually translating the phrases themselves. But whatever — it made me feel a bit smarter.

Though the quince preparation is a ongoing theme of the book, it is not all the book covers. It is also about friendship, boys, competitions, and family. I was surprised by the breadth of the novel, having assumed it was going to be a madcap telling of the quince process. Like a Quincezilla tale or something. But I would say it is more about self-discovery and embracing one’s heritage.

Friday, Chicken Spaghetti directed readers to a call for quinceañeo stories for a new book, so I am still riding the quince wave by getting this review done today instead of a week ago. Way to go me.

2 comments:

Susan said...

M.R., thanks for the review of Cuba 15! Sounds like a good one.

Little Willow said...

I will definitely check that out.

I just finished reading Adios to My Old Life by Caridad Ferrer and, while it is not a quince book, it is set in Florida, modern-day Latina, teenager, so she refers to the events - and it was written by a first-generation Cuban American who, I believe, is contributing a quinces piece to another publication. Perhaps the same one to which you referred. :)

Did you get my email and wrapup post last week for the 48HBC?