Fifteen Candles: 15 Tales of Taffeta, Hairspray, Drunk Uncles, and other Quinceanera Stories

Overview

For the uninitiated, the quinceañera celebrates the passage of a fifteen-year-old girl into adulthood: It's a bit bat mitzvah with a dash of debutante ball, and loaded with the same potential for hilarity and adolescent angst. In this original anthology, fifteen of the brightest and funniest Latino writers, men and women alike, share their own memories of these moving and often absurd extravaganzas—tales of that unique form of familial humiliation that is borne of the best intentions, fierce love, and the ...

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Fifteen Candles

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Overview

For the uninitiated, the quinceañera celebrates the passage of a fifteen-year-old girl into adulthood: It's a bit bat mitzvah with a dash of debutante ball, and loaded with the same potential for hilarity and adolescent angst. In this original anthology, fifteen of the brightest and funniest Latino writers, men and women alike, share their own memories of these moving and often absurd extravaganzas—tales of that unique form of familial humiliation that is borne of the best intentions, fierce love, and the infectious joy of parents finally allowing their little girl to grow up.

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Editorial Reviews

Luz Lazo
In Fifteen Candles, Adriana Lopez—the founding editor of Criticas magazine—presents the 15th-birthday tradition through a collection of mortifying, touching and hilarious stories. The authors narrate real situations in real families: that embarrassing moment on the dance floor when no one can waltz, the attendants of a girl's "court" sneaking off to make out with their boyfriends during rehearsal, the propensity to fall in love with the wrong person during the many months of party planning.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

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 mamistoo 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)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
School Library Journal

Adult/High School-According to Lopez, the celebration marking the passage of 15-year-old daughters from girlhood into womanhood has received a resurgence of popularity within the United States, often with families going into debt to throw lavish parties. As Cuban-American Barbara Ferrer so aptly describes the event in her story, it is "the disco music and fried chicken alongside the Tito Puente and arroz con frijoles." In this compilation, 15 talented authors contribute their versions of quinceañeraexperiences that impacted their lives. Poignant, and without sentimentalization, these engaging selections, both fiction and nonfiction, will cross borders and appeal to teens interested in real-life family dramas and funny short stories that reflect a mixture of today's pop culture, ethnic identity, and coming of age in the modern world. This collection offers a memorable blend of the sweetness and pain that mark life's milestones.-Jodi Mitchell, Contra Costa County Library, Orinda, CA

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061241925
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/12/2007
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 840,239
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Meet the Author

Adriana Lopez was the founding editor of Críticas magazine, Publishers Weekly's Spanish-language sister publication. Lopez's work has appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post, among other publications. A member of the PEN American Center, she lives in New York City.

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Read an Excerpt

Fifteen Candles

15 Tales of Taffeta, Hairspray, Drunk Uncles, and other Quinceanera Stories
By Adriana Lopez

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2007 Adriana Lopez
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061241925

Chapter One

El Quinceañero

By Alberto Rosas

A few months ago my cousin Ilene asked if I wanted to be a godfather at her quinceañera. This meant I was getting old. Less than a decade earlier, girls had asked me to be their chambelán or chambelán de honor. At twenty-five, I still considered myself a good candidate for chambelán de honor. Ilene disagreed. Although I knew my answer to Ilene would be no, not wanting to hurt her feelings, I told her I would get back to her. Being in a quinceañera again went against my unwritten rule. I had called it quits after Yvette's party in 1997.

After Ilene left my apartment, I studied my aging reflection. Hair: black, full, healthy, and gray-free. Wrinkles: none, with the exception of a few character creases on my forehead. Still young. Still chambelán material.

My reflection stared at me as I washed my face. The cold water felt fresh against my skin. The water dripped from my face onto the sink. Droplets of champagne dripped from Yvette's hair as we danced. Small pieces of flan stuck to her face and neck. The melody of the waltz blared through the speakers as our bodies moved across the dance floor.

I couldn't shake the memories. Images from thatquince played in my mind like a movie. I saw her face, how sweet she looked in her flowing white gown. Those innocent green eyes stared out from a ghostly white face. Her mother's face appeared: seductive green eyes contrasting beautifully with naturally tanned skin. Then the flan came to mind. It was imported from Tijuana, the padrino said, and it was the best flan I had ever tasted.

Yvette stood in her backyard and barked orders at the group of damas and chambelanes. The majority of the group arrived late, and none of them knew the steps to the waltz.

"You all need to do it good," Yvette ordered.

"Maybe if we danced to hip-hop," a dama said.

"This is gay," a chambelán said.

We turned to look at the gay waltz coordinator, Esteban, who waved one hand in the air and mouthed "Whatever." We also looked at Yvette's lesbian mother, Ingrid, who just shook her head and said nothing.

Yvette took my hand. Esteban pressed a button on the oversized boom box and Chayanne's "Tiempo de Vals" began to play. Chayanne's waltz was a smooth mixture of romantic pop song with a waltz's repetitive three-count bass. This seemed to be a popular song for quinceañeras; it was the third time I had danced to it.

The couples danced around the crowded backyard, minimizing their moves to accommodate the small space. Yvette stared at her feet as she danced.

"Look at me," I said.

This was my eighth or ninth time as a chambelán, my fourth as the chambelán de honor. By seventeen, I was a waltz aficionado.

At my first quinceañera, when I was eleven years old, I couldn't decide whether I had two left or two right feet. The mariachi ballads and banda polkas were too complicated for my coordination. Besides, I hated that mariachi and banda shit. It wasn't until a few years later, when I was introduced to salsa and merengue, that I had discovered my hidden dancing abilities.

"You're a pretty good dancer," Yvette said.

"I'm the Latino John Travolta."

Though Yvette had been a dama in various quinces, the added stress of being the quinceañera turned her into a virgin on the dance floor. Plus, waltzing wasn't her thing; it was just something that she had to do. The waltz was interconnected with the quince and it was impossible to have one without the other. It would be like having beans without rice, a carne asada barbecue without beer, or a piñata without candy. It would be like having a daughter but not throwing her a quinceañera party. It was tradition.

Both the chambelanes and damas slouched as they danced, their shoulders hunched forward. The boys danced left to right in a simple one-two count instead of the one-two-three count.

"Guys, please," Esteban said, "don't drag your feet like you got sandals on or something."

"I hate this waltz shit," someone said.

During the break, we ran to the cooler for sodas. The seven damas stood in one corner of the backyard. Six of the chambelanes stood about on the front sidewalk, while Chuy went inside to watch TV. My slacks and polo shirts clashed with their baggy jeans and T-shirts. Feeling out of place, I remained in the yard and sat near Esteban and Ingrid Garcia, Yvette's mother.

Yvette stood next to a husky boy about my age. He had a few thick whiskers outlining a thin goatee. I envied his thick facial hair compared to my sprouting peach fuzz. I met him a year earlier around the time I met Yvette, when she and I were dama and chambelán in Alma's quince. Yvette and I became friends after that and I always thought of her as a kid sister. It was at Alma's quince that I met Carlos, Yvette's boyfriend. He arrived at the quince with baggy pants and a bandana hanging from his rear pocket. Alma told him to leave, Alma and Yvette got into an argument, and the two never spoke again. So when Yvette asked me to be her chambelán de honor, I asked, "What about your boyfriend?"

"He can't dance."

"Maybe I can teach him some moves."

I didn't know any of Yvette's friends. The seven chambelanes appeared to be young gangbangers or wannabes. The film Mi Familia had been released about a year earlier, and the chambelanes aspired to be vatos locos like Jimmy Smits's character. Their short-sleeved shirts and tank tops revealed the latest trends in homemade tattoos, which consisted of skeletal outlines of partial images and misspellings, like the chambelán's tattoo that read "Yes Sí" instead of "Jesse." The damas wore too much makeup and talked nonstop about Enrique Iglesias, who had recently made it onto the music scene. The damas wore Enrique T-shirts and imitated his Spanish lisp.



Continues...

Excerpted from Fifteen Candles by Adriana Lopez Copyright © 2007 by Adriana Lopez. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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First Chapter

Fifteen Candles
15 Tales of Taffeta, Hairspray, Drunk Uncles, and other Quinceanera Stories

Chapter One

El Quinceañero

By Alberto Rosas

A few months ago my cousin Ilene asked if I wanted to be a godfather at her quinceañera. This meant I was getting old. Less than a decade earlier, girls had asked me to be their chambelán or chambelán de honor. At twenty-five, I still considered myself a good candidate for chambelán de honor. Ilene disagreed. Although I knew my answer to Ilene would be no, not wanting to hurt her feelings, I told her I would get back to her. Being in a quinceañera again went against my unwritten rule. I had called it quits after Yvette's party in 1997.

After Ilene left my apartment, I studied my aging reflection. Hair: black, full, healthy, and gray-free. Wrinkles: none, with the exception of a few character creases on my forehead. Still young. Still chambelán material.

My reflection stared at me as I washed my face. The cold water felt fresh against my skin. The water dripped from my face onto the sink. Droplets of champagne dripped from Yvette's hair as we danced. Small pieces of flan stuck to her face and neck. The melody of the waltz blared through the speakers as our bodies moved across the dance floor.

I couldn't shake the memories. Images from that quince played in my mind like a movie. I saw her face, how sweet she looked in her flowing white gown. Those innocent green eyes stared out from a ghostly white face. Her mother's face appeared: seductive green eyes contrasting beautifully with naturallytanned skin. Then the flan came to mind. It was imported from Tijuana, the padrino said, and it was the best flan I had ever tasted.

Yvette stood in her backyard and barked orders at the group of damas and chambelanes. The majority of the group arrived late, and none of them knew the steps to the waltz.

"You all need to do it good," Yvette ordered.

"Maybe if we danced to hip-hop," a dama said.

"This is gay," a chambelán said.

We turned to look at the gay waltz coordinator, Esteban, who waved one hand in the air and mouthed "Whatever." We also looked at Yvette's lesbian mother, Ingrid, who just shook her head and said nothing.

Yvette took my hand. Esteban pressed a button on the oversized boom box and Chayanne's "Tiempo de Vals" began to play. Chayanne's waltz was a smooth mixture of romantic pop song with a waltz's repetitive three-count bass. This seemed to be a popular song for quinceañeras; it was the third time I had danced to it.

The couples danced around the crowded backyard, minimizing their moves to accommodate the small space. Yvette stared at her feet as she danced.

"Look at me," I said.

This was my eighth or ninth time as a chambelán, my fourth as the chambelán de honor. By seventeen, I was a waltz aficionado.

At my first quinceañera, when I was eleven years old, I couldn't decide whether I had two left or two right feet. The mariachi ballads and banda polkas were too complicated for my coordination. Besides, I hated that mariachi and banda shit. It wasn't until a few years later, when I was introduced to salsa and merengue, that I had discovered my hidden dancing abilities.

"You're a pretty good dancer," Yvette said.

"I'm the Latino John Travolta."

Though Yvette had been a dama in various quinces, the added stress of being the quinceañera turned her into a virgin on the dance floor. Plus, waltzing wasn't her thing; it was just something that she had to do. The waltz was interconnected with the quince and it was impossible to have one without the other. It would be like having beans without rice, a carne asada barbecue without beer, or a piñata without candy. It would be like having a daughter but not throwing her a quinceañera party. It was tradition.

Both the chambelanes and damas slouched as they danced, their shoulders hunched forward. The boys danced left to right in a simple one-two count instead of the one-two-three count.

"Guys, please," Esteban said, "don't drag your feet like you got sandals on or something."

"I hate this waltz shit," someone said.

During the break, we ran to the cooler for sodas. The seven damas stood in one corner of the backyard. Six of the chambelanes stood about on the front sidewalk, while Chuy went inside to watch TV. My slacks and polo shirts clashed with their baggy jeans and T-shirts. Feeling out of place, I remained in the yard and sat near Esteban and Ingrid Garcia, Yvette's mother.

Yvette stood next to a husky boy about my age. He had a few thick whiskers outlining a thin goatee. I envied his thick facial hair compared to my sprouting peach fuzz. I met him a year earlier around the time I met Yvette, when she and I were dama and chambelán in Alma's quince. Yvette and I became friends after that and I always thought of her as a kid sister. It was at Alma's quince that I met Carlos, Yvette's boyfriend. He arrived at the quince with baggy pants and a bandana hanging from his rear pocket. Alma told him to leave, Alma and Yvette got into an argument, and the two never spoke again. So when Yvette asked me to be her chambelán de honor, I asked, "What about your boyfriend?"

"He can't dance."

"Maybe I can teach him some moves."

I didn't know any of Yvette's friends. The seven chambelanes appeared to be young gangbangers or wannabes. The film Mi Familia had been released about a year earlier, and the chambelanes aspired to be vatos locos like Jimmy Smits's character. Their short-sleeved shirts and tank tops revealed the latest trends in homemade tattoos, which consisted of skeletal outlines of partial images and misspellings, like the chambelán's tattoo that read "Yes Sí" instead of "Jesse." The damas wore too much makeup and talked nonstop about Enrique Iglesias, who had recently made it onto the music scene. The damas wore Enrique T-shirts and imitated his Spanish lisp.

Fifteen Candles
15 Tales of Taffeta, Hairspray, Drunk Uncles, and other Quinceanera Stories
. Copyright © by Adriana Lopez. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 16, 2009

    Fifteen candles

    The book Fifteen Candles, by Adriana Lopez is fifteen unique stories about quinceañeras, and the crazy things that happen during a girl's most important party of her life. Fifteen Candles is a page turner and I really enjoyed all of the stories. They were very realistic, entertaining, and humorous. I could picture all of the crazy events happening during them. In the first story three girls got in a fight and were pouring drinks on each other, because of a boy they all had liked. I could picture that happening in real life, because girls do fight over guys if they think another girl is trying to steal him from her. I thought it was a very funny that three girls were fighting in the middle of a party in front of family members and friends, but it made the book interesting and I wanted to read on further to see what else happened next.
    There was one story in particular that I didn't like in this book. The second story was corny and unoriginal in my opinion. This girl named Angie is going through an ugly stage of her life. She still has braces and messy hair and pimples. She and her best friend Yoyo are going to different schools when the new school year starts, and over the summer are asked to be in Yoyo's cousin Cynthia's quinceañera. In a quinceañera you dance and do the waltz and other ballroom dances. Angie ends up falling in love with her dance partner for the quinceañera, who was this really good looking guy named Junior. They had a summer romance, but when the new school year started, and they didn't see each other that much anymore Angie broke up with him and they never really saw each other again. I thought that how they fell in love over the summer was just corny, and I feel like there are a lot of other stories in the world like this one. It wasn't that original and the ending was a disappointment.
    Over all I enjoyed this book. I would defiantly recommend this book for any person who likes unique, funny and drama filled stories. This book was very interesting and original except for the second story. I think that girls would enjoy this book more than guys, because girls can relate to the stories more. I think guys would like the stories too, but I would recommend it more for girls. After reading this book it taught me about Spanish culture, and why girls have quinceañeras. A quinceañera is party thrown for a girl when she turns fifteen, and it's a celebration that symbolizes a girl turning into a woman. Fifteen Candles is a book filled with girls fighting, drunk relatives, hairsprays, poufy dresses and the drama of throwing a quinceañera.

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  • Posted January 4, 2009

    fifteen candles

    For the young Hispanic girl quinceañeras are all about a rite of passage. The rite of passage into becoming a woman, and into womanhood. In the Hispanic world there are also such things as a quinceañero which is sort of like Spanish bar mitzvah, in a way but not exactly the same as quinceañeras. In this book Fifteen Candles by Adriana Lopez, fifteen bright Hispanic writers tell their stories of initiation into the adult world through quinceañeras. Authors such as Fabiola Santiago, Alberto Rosas, Malìn Alegrìa-Ramìrez, and Barbara Ferrer tell their stories in this funny, romantic book.<BR/> ¿Es mi niña bonita, con su carita de rosa, es mi niña bonita, cada dìa más preciosa¿ ¿ from the traditional father-daughter quinceañera song by Spaniard Tomás de San Julián to the rhythm of flamenco guitars. This quote (from the book) means it¿s my pretty girl, with a face of rose; it¿s my pretty girl, each more precious day. During the father daughter dance at quinceañeras the proud father will take his daughters hand, and invite her to dance the waltz with him symbolizing his recognition that she is now a lady and should be treated as such.<BR/> This book was very enjoyable. It¿s fun to learn about different cultures and how they celebrate different things such as the quinceañera. This book has some language in it and some sexual reference. Overall this book was very good. I would definitely read it again, and look for some more of Adriana Lopez¿s books.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2008

    15 tales of taffeta,hairspray,drunk uncles,and othe quinceanera stories

    The author of this book is Adriana Lopez and it is based on a true story...

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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