Reviewed by Mark Frye, author and reviewer for TeensReadToo.com
Violet Paz gives little thought to her ethnicity. She's half-Cuban and half-Polish, but all American. She takes her father's roots for granted, even if her crazy relatives are always visiting for mega-Domino tournaments and zany cookouts. But when her grandmother and parents insist that she participate in her "quince," she is forced into a reluctant and embarrassed embrace with an "old world" tradition.
This debut novel masterfully and subtly details the modernization of the quinceanero, a coming-of-age party for a Latina's fifteenth birthday, through the eyes of a clever and humorous teen living near Chicago. The author, Nancy Osa, accurately captures the resentment of parental influence some teens experience in their quest for their own identity. As Violet struggles with being forced to participate in her own quince, she seeks advice from other adult figures who help her balance parental expectations with her own need for independence. Osa pulls off this high-wire act masterfully, not going "over the top" in teen rebellion fashion, nor making Violet an unbelievably acquiescent parent-pleaser.
Osa weaves the subplot into the novel quite well, also. It makes Violet's self-discovery a double success story: not only does she make her quince relevant to her modern, American life, but she uses her zany family's exploits as fodder for her speech team event.
CUBA 15 has received considerable attention and been nominated for numerous awards. This is a likeable story from a "new" author I hope we hear from again! Five stars.
I'm 46 and I really enjoyed this coming of age novel written well in the first person. Well done-- it got an award, well deserved!
I absolutely love this book! Being Cuban myself, I could relate to everything the main character's family does... the parties, the food, the arguments, all of it! I found myself laughing out loud several times throughout the book. It's a great book about a young lady's coming-of-age.