Author Sandra C. Lopez has reviewed Estrella's Quinceañera by Malin Alegria.
Estrella Alvarez is turning fifteen, and she's not happy about it. For as long as she can remember, her mother has been planning an elaborate quinceañera, complete with a mariachi band, cheesy decorations, and a hideous dress. Estrella is so over it. She'd much rather have an understated dinner party at a posh restaurant downtown that way, she can invite her two best friends from private school, who have no idea Estrella lives in the barrio. Even though Estrella tries to keep her home life a secret from her school friends, things get even more complicated when she falls for Speedy, a cholo whom her new friends and her parents would definitely disapprove of.
Caught between her family's wishes and the allure of her sophisticated friends, Estrella is forced to make some tough choices. This funny, touching book follows one girl's struggle to figure out who she really wants to be.
Reviewed by: Sandra Lopez, Author of Esperanza: A Latina Story and Beyond the Gardens
Review: What do most of us do when the topic of quinceañeras come up? We sigh, we roll our eyes, we cringe so hard that we shrivel up inside like a burnt out match. The feeling's mutual in just about everyone. That was exactly how Estrella Alvarez felt in this story.
Even though I have never had a quince myself (thank god,) this story gave me warm nostalgia as I recalled my own years of growing up in a barrio. I remembered the "cholo losers" and the busy-body neighbors; the buttinski mother and the crazy relatives, everthing. You can't help but empathize with Estrella when it comes to how her family views her as the last gleaming hope for a good education, or how she feels like an alien in the world of her rich, prep-school friends. Don't we all feel that way at some point?
I loved Estrella's surly and sarcastic tone as she described every grueling (and often, embarrassing) detail of the party planning. I also liked how Speedy wasn't your typical "cholo" but actually a nice guy (so few of them left in the barrio.) I did think Estrella needed to relax and slow down on growing up. She should've enjoyed hanging out with Speedy as a friend/person instead of concentrating so hard on getting her first kiss from him.
One unique thing about this book was that each chapter had a definition of barrio slang that you couldn't help but smile at. This was a relatable story of finding one's self while coming of age in a dark, scary world. Great job, Malin!