Julia Alvarez: official author website
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Once Upon A Quinceañera

Coming of Age
in the USA

a nonfiction book
by Julia Alvarez
(Viking: August 2007)

This is only my second book of nonfiction, and the only book that I ever was invited to write! Well, take that back. The seed of A Cafecito Story was a request by my husband that I write "something" about the plight of coffee farmers we had become involved with in the Dominican Republic. But that wasn't an invitation so much as "this is what I want for Christmas, my birthday, and any other time you're going to get me a present for the rest of my life." How easy was that to refuse?!

Once Upon A Quinceañera: Coming of Age in the USA by Julia Alvarez

Once Upon A Quinceañera began when an editor asked me to write about a book about this Latino tradition. At first, I sent regrets, but he was persistent! He asked me to think about it. I decided to attend a few of these celebrations and I got hooked on the subject.

It seemed to me that quinceañeras, those elaborate and ritualized parties thrown for young Latinas when they turn fifteen, are a perfect lens through which to view what is happening to us as a Latino community in this country. Writing the book also gave me the opportunity to review my own troubled coming of age and to understand why that passage was so difficult for me and many other young Latinas and women of my generation.


The book was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism. It is now available in paperback as well as in Spanish translation by Liliana Valenzuela, Habia una vez una quinceanera: De niņa a mujer en EE.UU.

My editors at Viking/Penguin asked me to talk about my experiences writing this book: read the interview.

see also: Interview on Salon: Ultimate Fiesta
Interview on City RoomTM
Interview at
Interview on La Bloga
Video Interview with LatinaLista

Once Upon A Quinceañera: Coming of Age in the USA by Julia Alvarez
see this book on
hardcover  *  paperback
audio cd  *  kindle
en español: paperback
or you may be able to get an
autographed copy at
Middlebury College Bookstore
or Vermont Book Shop

More Books by Julia Alvarez

RETURN TO SENDER, a novel, ages ten and up (and up!), by Julia Alvarez -- click for book summary
Saving the World by Julia Alvarez
Saving the World
Something to Declare: a book of nonfiction essays by Julia Alvarez -- click for book summary
Something to Declare

Autographed Books by Julia Alvarez

Would you like a signed -- or personalized -- copy of one of Julia's books? Simply call or email one of her two local bookstores -- or stop in for a visit.

Vermont Book Shop
38 Main Street, Middlebury, Vermont

Middlebury College Store
58 Hepburn Road, Middlebury, Vermont
Contact Georgia Best

And, of course, Julia would love to see you at one of her upcoming appearances. To see if she will be in your town, check her calendar.


Find Books by Julia Alvarez

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