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The quinceañera celebration, with its crowds of admiring family and friends focused on a 15-year-old Latina as she officially comes of age, often evokes wistful, reverential memories—the priest's blessing, the quinceañera's court members in their elaborate matching gowns, the opening slow dance of the quince with her father. The stories in this collection, however, recall different sorts of memories: a father who's out on parole; the lesbian mother who beds her daughter's boyfriend; the horny bad boys smoking doobies in the parking lot; the drunks in tuxedos puking in the bushes; the former girlfriends catfighting on the dance floor. Instead of sentimentalizing the Hispanic family and the sacred quinceañera, these 15 authors (a third of whom are men) take off the white gloves and talk about what goes on in real families. They talk about not having a quince because their families were too poor or their mamis too liberated. They talk about dysfunctional relatives and getting wretchedly drunk at parties and falling in love with the wrong people—just like everyone else in this world. Lopez, writer and former editor of Críticas magazine, writes in her introduction that the stories she's selected are linked by humor, sadness, and a lot of self-discovery. Many readers—especially 20 or 30-somethings—will find the honesty liberating. (June)
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In terms that vary from frank and irreverent to tender and even a little sapppy, 15 writers tell personal stories about a quinceanera, the traditional celebration that marks a Latina's fifteenth birthday. Some teens grab the chance to be a grown-up princess. In contrast, a Cuban immigrant remembers hating her party as a refugee "straitjacket"; but now she is appalled that her own daughter wants it all with lace, ruffles, and pearls. Of course, it is a coming-of-age landmark, and many remember the universals of trying to navigate the signals and subtleties, to look cute and sexy, but not like a zorra (whore). Party guests write, too, including male family members, escorts, lovers. The diversity is a big part of the fun across ethnicity, class, generation, and sexual orientation. Some want a quiet religious ceremony; some want to rent Disney World. But as Lopez points out in her great introduction, the "quinces" are having a comeback in the U.S., and however diverse, all do include the expectations, the nerves, and eventually the messy mush of memories. Rochman, HazelSee all Editorial Reviews