Synopses & Reviews
The 2001 winner of the Delacorte Press Prize for a First Young Adult Novel tells the story of a girl who while preparing for her 15th year celebration--her "quince"--probes into her Cuban roots and unwittingly unleashes a hotbed of conflicted feelings about Cuba within her family. Young Adult.
"Violet Paz, the charismatic narrator of this funny first novel, doesn't know much about her Cuban heritage when her grandmother offers to throw her a quincea ero, a traditional coming-of-age party for a 15-year-old girl. By party time, however, Violet has learned not only about Cuban culture but even 'what is true' about her family and herself. Osa spins a host of story lines: Violet joins the speech team, performing an ever-evolving comedy routine about 'the Loco Family' (she bases her material on a multi-day domino party that the police broke up); she fights with her father, who refuses to talk about Cuba (his parents fled to America with him when he was a baby); and she even finds her first boyfriend. The author can't quite flesh out all these characters and plot points to their full potential (the intimidating speech coach, for instance, seems exaggerated for no reason). Mostly, though, Violet and her wacky family and friends including a pun-loving mother and a vegetarian who breaks up with her boyfriend when he wears leather to a PETA meeting keep the fiesta moving at a lively clip. As a bonus, readers get some exposure to Cuban history and culture, including a smattering of Spanish words and phrases. Ages 12-up." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
For fans of Matt de la Pena and Sandra Cisneros comes a novel about family and identity, where Violet Paz prepares for her quinceanero and
learns about her Cuban heritage.
Violet Paz has just turned fifteen, a pivotal birthday in the eyes of her Cuban grandmother. Fifteen is the age when a girl enters womanhood, traditionally celebrating the occasion with a quinceanero.
But while Violet is half Cuban, she s also half Polish, and more importantly, she feels 100% American. Except for her zany family s passion for playing dominoes, smoking cigars, and dancing to Latin music, Violet knows little about Cuban culture, nada about quinces, and only tidbits about the history of Cuba.
So when Violet begrudgingly accepts Abuela s plans for a quinceanero and as she begins to ask questions about her Cuban roots cultures and feelings collide. The mere mention of Cuba and Fidel Castro elicits her grandparents sadness and her father s anger. Only Violet s aunt Luz remains open-minded.
With so many divergent views, it s not easy to know what to believe. All Violet knows is that she s got to form her own opinions, even if this jolts her family into unwanted confrontations. After all, a quince girl is supposed to embrace responsibility and to Violet that includes understanding the Cuban heritage that binds her to a homeland she s never seen. Violet s hilarious cool first-person narrative veers between farce and tenderness, denial and truth
, Starred Review
"This funny and tender chronicle of Violet's 15th year... has] heart and humor.
"-Kirkus Reviews Cuba 15 will make readers laugh, whether or not their families are as loco as Violet s. The Horn Book Magazine
"Osa's tale about a warmhearted, fun-loving family,
a teenager's typical ambivalence about different cultures, the stress of dealing with high school demands and pressures, a budding romance, and how an imaginative, high-spirited young woman handles some thorny issues and does some growing up in the process, rings true and makes for an entertaining story.
"The characters are so charming
that while readers are in their company, the experience is interesting and engaging."-SLJ A Pura Belpre Honor Book An ALA Notable Book An ALA Best Book for Young Adults A Booklist Top Ten Youth First Novels
From the Hardcover edition."
Reading Group Guide
1. Violet says that in her family “Spanish was currency. Currency I didnt have” (p. 44). What does she mean by this? What else is “currency” in the Paz family? What is currency in your family?
2. Señora Flora asks Violet, “How do you see yourself?” (p. 119). How does Violet reply? In what ways do you think Violets definition of herself changes between the beginning and the end of the book?
3. Violet describes herself as having “a lot of half talents” (p. 119) that shed like to make full talents. What are your half talents? How would you choose some to focus on and develop? Do you see yourself as having one great passion or endeavor in life, or a lot of little ones?
4. The quinceañero marks the transition from childhood to adulthood. How do you see Violet making that transition in the course of the book? Is there any event or experience (it doesnt have to be a fancy ceremony) in your life that marks this transition as the quinceañero does?
5. In your eyes, what does it mean to become an adult? Consider the roles of your parents and friends; your education, religion, government, and culture; and your feelings in determining when you are an adult. Do you ever get mixed messages from these sources about what it takes to be considered an independent adult?
6. Some of Violets adult relatives have their own reasons for wanting her to have the quinceañero. Why is Abuela, for example, so insistent? Have you ever felt that adults in your life wanted to experience something theyd never encountered in their youth-or relive an experience they had had-through you?
7. Why do you think Violets father resists telling her about Cuba? Have you ever had to go around your parents or other authority figures to learn about something and form your own opinion? Are there issues about which youve taken your parents opinion as your own without really thinking about it?
8. Abuela asserts that it is the woman, not the man, “who carries the tradition forward” (p. 246). What does she mean? Can you think of an example-from your own family or culture or a different one-that supports her claim, and an example that refutes it? What are the traditions in your life, and who makes sure they are carried forward?
9. What would be the theme of your quinceañero? What would you include in the ceremony to make it reflect your personality (or just for fun)?