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Download Once Upon a Quinceanera: Coming of Age in the USA Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Once Upon a Quinceanera: Coming of Age in the USA, by Julia Alvarez Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (471 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Julia Alvarez Narrator: Daphne Rubin-Vega Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: August 2007 ISBN: 9781429586221
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The quinceañera, the fifteenth birthday celebration for a Latina girl, is quickly becoming an American event. This legendary party is a sight to behold: lavish ball gowns, extravagant catered meals, DJs, limousines, and multi-tiered cakes. The must haves for a “quince” are becoming as numerous and costly as a prom or wedding. And yet, this elaborate ritual also hearkens back to traditions from native countries and communities, offering young Latinas a chance to connect with their heritage.

In Once Upon a Quinceañera, Julia Alvarez explores this celebration that brings a Latina girl into womanhood. She attends the quince of a young woman named “Monica” who lives in Queens, and witnesses the commotion, confusion, and potential for disaster that comes with planning this important event. Alvarez also weaves in interviews with other quince girls, her own memories of coming of age as an immigrant, and the history of the custom itself: how it originated and what has changed as Latinas become accustomed to a supersized  American culture.

Once Upon a Quinceañera is an enlightening, accessible, and entertaining portrait of contemporary Latino culture, as well as a critical look at the rituals of coming of age and the economic and social consequences of the quince parties. Julia Alvarez’s dedicated fans will be eager to hear her thoughts on this topic. It is a great book for anyone interested in American youth today—parents, teachers, and teenagers themselves.                                          

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Though [Alvarez] brings a critical eye to long-held myths…[Once upon a Quinceañera] is a love song to the cultural ties that bind generations of women from a diverse group of countries.”

    Chicago Sun-Times

  • “Alvarez’s honest grappling with her caught-between-two-cultures experience is compelling.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “In Once Upon a Quinceañera, a fascinating, exhaustively researched book about the celebration of a girl’s coming of age, bestselling novelist Julia Alvarez…studies the ancient ritual that unites the U.S. Latino community and is rapidly evolving and spreading across ethnic lines.”

    Washington Post

  • “A journey into experiencing a vital, exuberant ritual of modern Latino life…As an author, Alvarez is a terrific tour guide.”

    Seattle Times

  • “There’s plenty to savor in this production, and anyone looking for insight into a phenomenon that will only grow as the Latino population in the U. S. increases will appreciate this skillful presentation of Alvarez’s insights into the culture.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • A 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 AudryT | 2/10/2014

    " Interesting exploration of what quinces have become in America. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Megan | 2/8/2014

    " I have several students already planning for their own Quinceaneras, so this was a very interesting glimpse into that culture. Some girls spend more on their Quinceaneras than I spent on my wedding! A very readable, well-researched book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Julie | 1/31/2014

    " So, far this is a very interesting glimpse into a Latin American "tradition" exploited by the dream of becoming American, while preserving ones culture. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Julie | 1/27/2014

    " A fascinating blend of sociological observation and historical-literary research. The immense significance and beauty and ethical concerns over waste surrounding this tradition. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Susan | 12/24/2013

    " This book had a number of good reviews, and I can see why. It was an interesting glimpse into the culture of the quinceanera (the elaborate celebration of a girl's 15th or 16th birthday in Latina culture), which I certainly would not have otherwise had. I very much liked the profile style of writing, that following one particular family's celebration while working in newsy explanations of each aspect. I was not as fond of her choice to weave her own personal reflections about her own life, as they were only slightly relevant and I was more interested in the analysis of the quinceanera. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mercedes | 12/22/2013

    " After hearing Julia Alvarez speak this summer at Middlebury, I was eager to read this book. It provided an interesting look into this one event within Latino culture in America and also had thoughtful commentary of youth culture in the US in general. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Suzanne | 12/21/2013

    " What I love about Alvarez' writing is that she's always informative, but warm -- you feel like you really want to sit down and have a glass of red wine with her while you solve the problems of the world. This one is a work of nonfiction, but still in her warm style. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ashwinee Sadanand | 12/15/2013

    " I think this a wonderfully informative and entertaining book about one of the many "coming of age" traditions. Alvarez writes insightfully and compassionately about the different Hispanic communities and raises many questions about how this particular tradition sometimes expresses itself in the U.S.and in the Latin American countries today. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Julie | 12/13/2013

    " I love this author, and as usual, her writing style really appeals to me. Interesting topic, but seems better suited to a pamphlet instead of a full book. Maybe I'm just not the target audience for it? "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Susan | 11/20/2013

    " Julia Alvarez' book Saving the World prompted me to read more by this author. But this story did not draw me in. Somehow, the connection to the featured girls seemed more observed than linked. In the end I did not finish the book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marcia | 10/3/2013

    " DDC 395.23 Subjects: Hispanic American social life customs; rites; ceremonies. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Karen | 8/29/2013

    " Interesting topic and great prose about her own life, but the book wasn't cohesive. It seemed to need another round of editing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Belén Rodríguez | 8/12/2013

    " An interesting blend of social commentary, new journalism, and autobiography. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mary | 6/4/2013

    " THis is an interesting read so far. Nothing to keep you gripping the pages but I like how the author explores this tradition in hispanic culture. I never gave it too much thought and didn't realize how supersized it had become in the good ol' USA. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennie | 11/28/2012

    " An interesting book about quinceaneras and how they have been shaped and changed by being celebrated in America. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Maris | 8/21/2012

    " Perfect example of readable, interesting nonfiction. Well written, interesting questions presented in a forthright manner. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Colleen | 6/21/2012

    " The beginning of this book was really interesting. I really enjoyed Alvarez's descriptions of the Quince's she attended, and I learned a lot about Latina culture. But there was a little too much Alvarez in the book. Had I wanted to read a biography of Alvarez, that's what I would have looked for. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cece Baez | 11/13/2010

    " As a Latina reading this book is kind of weird because the shared experiences are common sense to me. however, I can see how someone of outside the culture would probably find this book interesting. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Claire | 10/14/2010

    " I couldn't stick with it before the lib wanted it back. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Liz | 8/19/2010

    " I didn't enjoy it as much as I'd hoped. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sarah | 6/10/2010

    " A magazine article masquerading as a book. Reads like an editor's assignment, which it was. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cece | 4/25/2010

    " As a Latina reading this book is kind of weird because the shared experiences are common sense to me. however, I can see how someone of outside the culture would probably find this book interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Erin | 4/3/2010

    " A great look at the must-have, over-the-top, materialistic event that has become out of a rite of passage: the quinceanera. A lot can be said of what the modern wedding has become as well and Alvarez makes great insights on this event's emerging new meaning (which might not be that great of one). "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 AudryT | 3/10/2010

    " Interesting exploration of what quinces have become in America. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Heidi | 1/24/2010

    " The first half of this book is more of a journalistic view of Quincineara's and the history of this tradition. The second half focuses more on Alvarez's life and her struggle to form her own identity as a Dominican American woman and independent, career focused woman.

    "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Karen | 1/22/2010

    " Interesting topic and great prose about her own life, but the book wasn't cohesive. It seemed to need another round of editing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Maris | 10/26/2009

    " Perfect example of readable, interesting nonfiction. Well written, interesting questions presented in a forthright manner. "

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