Contemporary Realistic Fiction · Review · Young Adult

Sweet Fifteen by Diane Gonzales Bertrand

Sweet Fifteen by Diane Gonzales Bertrand is not part of a series. The synopsis on the back of the book says:

Hispanic families traditionally mark the transition to womanhood with a special coming-out party for a girl’s fifteenth birthday. As Stephanie’s quinceañera approaches, however, her household is glum. Her loving but domineering father has recently died. Nevertheless, against Stephanie’s wishes, her mother plans to go ahead with the festivities her father had planned.

It is Rita, the seamstress hired to make Stephanie’s dress, who helps the girl express her grief and make the transition to a completely new family situation. The sweet fifteen party, rather than remaining an archaic custom for this modern teenager becomes a psychological process through which Stephanie can cherish and preserve the best of the old while adapting to the new.

The book is okay. It features some romance and role of tradition is families and communities. It’s mostly about the stress a teenager feels if they are caught between traditional families and modern-day life.

I think the most interesting thing about this was about the quinceañera and the dress shop. Stephanie held little interest to me. Rita was the most interesting, but the book was somewhat bland. I don’t know if this gives a good representation of Mexican-American culture, so think about if this book really interests you.

Genres: Realistic Fiction, Young Adult

Stars (out of 5): ***

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