Cuba 15

Cuba 15

by Nancy Osa


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Cuba 15 by Nancy Osa

For fans of Matt de la Peña and Sandra Cisneros comes a novel about family and identity, where Violet Paz prepares for her quinceañero and learns about her Cuban heritage.

   Violet Paz has just turned fifteen, a pivotal birthday in the eyes of her Cuban grandmother. Fifteen is the age when a girl enters womanhood, traditionally celebrating the occasion with a quinceañero.
   But while Violet is half Cuban, she’s also half Polish, and more importantly, she feels 100% American. Except for her zany family’s passion for playing dominoes, smoking cigars, and dancing to Latin music, Violet knows little about Cuban culture, nada about quinces, and only tidbits about the history of Cuba.
   So when Violet begrudgingly accepts Abuela’s plans for a quinceañero–and as she begins to ask questions about her Cuban roots–cultures and feelings collide. The mere mention of Cuba and Fidel Castro elicits her grandparents’sadness and her father’s anger. Only Violet’s aunt Luz remains open-minded.
   With so many divergent views, it’s not easy to know what to believe. All Violet knows is that she’s got to form her own opinions, even if this jolts her family into unwanted confrontations. After all, a quince girl is supposed to embrace responsibility–and to Violet that includes understanding the Cuban heritage that binds her to a homeland she’s never seen.

Violet’s hilarious cool first-person narrative veers between farce and tenderness, denial and truth.”—Booklist, Starred Review

"This funny and tender chronicle of Violet's 15th year...[has] heart and humor."-Kirkus Reviews

Cuba 15 will make readers laugh, whether or not their families are as loco as Violet’s.”—The Horn Book Magazine

"Osa's tale about a warmhearted, fun-loving family, a teenager's typical ambivalence about different cultures, the stress of dealing with high school demands and pressures, a budding romance, and how an imaginative, high-spirited young woman handles some thorny issues and does some growing up in the process, rings true and makes for an entertaining story."-VOYA

"The characters are so charming that while readers are in their company, the experience is interesting and engaging."-SLJ

A Pura Belpré Honor Book

An ALA Notable Book

An ALA Best Book for Young Adults

A Booklist Top Ten Youth First Novels

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385732338
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 03/08/2005
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 137,652
Product dimensions: 5.19(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.63(d)
Age Range: 12 Years

About the Author

NANCY OSA is a native of Chicago, Illinois, and a graduate of Reed College (BA English). She has been published in national periodicals and textbooks. Her book Cuba 15 earned the Delacorte Press Prize for a First Young Adult Novel, was a Pura Belpre Honor Book, and was recognized for excellence by the American Library Association and Booklist. She is a two-time Oregon Literary Fellowship recipient and alumna of Hedgebrook Foundation.

From the Hardcover edition.

Read an Excerpt


What can be funny about having to stand up in front of everyone you know, in a ruffly dress the color of Pepto-Bismol, and proclaim your womanhood? Nothing. Nada. Zip. Not when you’re fifteen—too young to drive, win the lottery, or vote for a president who might lower the driving and gambling ages. Nothing funny at all. At least that’s what I thought in September.

My—womanhoods—hadn’t even begun to grow; I wore a bra size so small they’d named it with lowercase letters: aaa. Guys avoided me like the feminine hygiene aisle at the grocery store. And I never wore dresses. Not since I’d left school uniforms behind. Not ever, no exceptions. You’d think my own grandmother would remember that.

She didn’t.

“Eh, Violet, m’ija. I want buy you a gown and make you a ’keen-say’ party,” my grandmother said early that September morning in her customized English, shrewdly springing her idea on me at breakfast.

“Sounds good, Abuela,” I said as I buttered my muffin. “Except for the dress.”

Just Abuela, my little brother, Mark, and I were up; Abuelo, tired from traveling, was sleeping in, and Mom never got up until after Mark and I had left for school. Thrift store worker’s hours. Mom ran the Rise & Walk Thrift Sanctuary, a used-clothing shop in the church basement that operates on donations. Their motto is “The Threads Shall Walk Again.” Dad was on the early shift at the twenty-four-hour pharmacy inside the Lincolnville Food Depot, a combination grocery store/bank/hairdresser/veterinary hospital/pharmacy/service station. All they needed now was a tattoo parlor.

“What’s ’keent-sy’?” Mark asked, adding, “I want one too!”

“The quince,” said Abuela, “this is short for quincea-ero, the fifteenth birthday in Cuba.” She pronounced it

“Coo-ba,” the Spanish way. “Is a ceremony only for the girls,” she added, shaking a finger at Mark, who tipped his cereal bowl toward his mouth to get the last of the sugary milk at the bottom.

He swallowed. “That’s sexist, Abuela. Only for girls.” He tried another pass at his cereal bowl, but it was empty. “I know, because last year in my school on Take Your Daughters to Work Day, Father Leone said sons got to go to work too. So I got out of school!”

Abuela, looking starched somehow in one of Mom’s old terry cloth robes, her silver hair in a bun, raised an eyebrow and gave a wry smile. “This is equality, yes?”

She often says yes when she means no, and vice versa.

“The quincea-ero, m’ijo, this is the time when the girl becomes the woman.”

Mark, who was eleven then, shied away from any discussion that even hinted at having to do with body parts or workings. He turned corpuscle red, a nice counterpoint to his royal blue Cubs baseball cap, which he wore all day every day during the pro season, except in school and church, until the end of the last game of the World Series. The fringe of his dark hair stuck out in a ragged halo around his face. He immediately lost interest in the quince party. “Nevermind, countmeout,” he mumbled.

Abuela didn’t notice. “The quince is the time when all the resto del mundo ass-cepts your dear sister as an adult in the eyes of God and family. And she, in turn, promises to ass-cept responsabilidad for all the wonders in the world of adults.”

Responsabilidad. This sank in as deeply as the Country Crock into the nooks and crannies of my half-eaten English muffin, and raised a red flag. This quince party could be some sort of trap. “What if I don’t want to—ass-cept more responsibilities?” I asked, mindlessly mimicking Abuela’s pronunciation.

Mark slipped away, leaving his empty cereal bowl and milk glass on the table.

Abuela sat down with a tiny cup of sweet, black coffee. “Responsabilidades—how do you say? These come with the territory, chiquitica.” She downed her coffee in one shot.

I pointed to Mark’s dirty bowl. “How about his responsibilities?”

She shrugged and motioned for me to clear his place.

“Now that’s sexist,” I grumbled, stomping off to the sink with Mark’s dishes and my own.

Abuela said something that rhymed in Spanish, then translated: “The bull cannot make the milk, and the cow alone cannot make the bull.”

I kissed her, shaking my head, and left for school. There’s no sense arguing with the fundamentals.

Leda Lundquist stood waiting for me outside Spanish class. My friend Leda is as slim as a sunflower and admirably as tall, though not quite as seedy. She has long, straight, pale-pale blond hair and white-white skin with just the faintest glow to indicate that blood does run through her veins.

“Yo, Paz,” she said to me at the door, with her usual lack of finesse. “Come away with me this weekend.”

“Don’t you have a boyfriend for that, Leed?” I asked, sweeping past her and into the last row of seats.

Leda set down her gym duffel and books and sat beside me, braiding her hair into an orderly rope. She wore a giant turquoise tie-dyed T-shirt as a dress, belted with a rolled-up bandana. Rubber flip-flops and a pink plastic Slinky on one arm for a bracelet completed her back-to-school look. “I have got the perfect fund-raiser for you—for us—to go to Saturday afternoon.”

I groaned. “No way,” I said, before she had a chance to state her case.

“C-U-B-A” was all she said, and she waited for my reaction.

I raised my eyebrows in a let-me-have-it look.

“The Cuba Caravan’s coming through town. Isn’t your dad going? There’s gonna be a dance, and a send-off, and—”

I shook my head no, and harder for no way. I didn’t want to stir up that kettle of Caribbean fish. The subject of Cuba was best left unmentioned around Dad. “Forget it, Leda,” I said, wondering how many times I’d been caught up in this constant refusal of invitations since we’d first met. With the Lundquists’ raft of causes, most weekends offered at least one political demonstration for the family to enjoy.

“—and even a raffle, Paz, what could be better than that? Besides . . .”

She paused.

“Besides what?”

“Well . . . if we stand around long enough, you might meet some hunky Cuban guys at the salsa dance . . . and I could top a thousand bucks in the walkabout fund.”

Aha. The true motive. Leda was speaking of the European adventure fund that her parents pay into every time she goes to some activist thing with them—double if she brings a friend. By the time she turns eighteen, Leda plans to have enough money to traipse across Europe and several other continents, solo.

Which was why we, lofty sophomore creatures that we were, presently found ourselves in the back row of Se-ora Wong’s freshman Spanish class, trying not to be noticed. It had been Leda’s idea to take the first year of each language offered at Tri-District High so she’d be able to speak a little of the native tongue no matter where she roamed. Last year, merci beaucoup, it had been French. I didn’t care which language I learned, so I tagged along for the fun of it.

Se-ora Wong, diminutive but not fragile, ruled with an ironic fist. “Leona, Violeta, could you find it in your hearts to join the rest of us?” she asked, calling us by our Spanish-class names, hitting just the right note of sarcasm. She went on to show the class the same list of easy nouns that Leda and I learned last year at this time: casa, sombrero, estudiante—only last year it was in French.

From the Hardcover edition.

Reading Group Guide

1. Violet says that in her family “Spanish was currency. Currency I didn’t have” (p. 44). What does she mean by this? What else is “currency” in the Paz family? What is currency in your family?

2. Señora Flora asks Violet, “How do you see yourself?” (p. 119). How does Violet reply? In what ways do you think Violet’s definition of herself changes between the beginning and the end of the book?

3. Violet describes herself as having “a lot of half talents” (p. 119) that she’d like to make full talents. What are your half talents? How would you choose some to focus on and develop? Do you see yourself as having one great passion or endeavor in life, or a lot of little ones?

4. The quinceañero marks the transition from childhood to adulthood. How do you see Violet making that transition in the course of the book? Is there any event or experience (it doesn’t have to be a fancy ceremony) in your life that marks this transition as the quinceañero does?

5. In your eyes, what does it mean to become an adult? Consider the roles of your parents and friends; your education, religion, government, and culture; and your feelings in determining when you are an adult. Do you ever get mixed messages from these sources about what it takes to be considered an independent adult?

6. Some of Violet’s adult relatives have their own reasons for wanting her to have the quinceañero. Why is Abuela, for example, so insistent? Have you ever felt that adults in your life wanted to experience something they’d never encountered in their youth–or relive an experience they had had–through you?

7. Why do you think Violet’s father resists telling her about Cuba? Have you ever had to go around your parents or other authority figures to learn about something and form your own opinion? Are there issues about which you’ve taken your parents’ opinion as your own without really thinking about it?

8. Abuela asserts that it is the woman, not the man, “who carries the tradition forward” (p. 246). What does she mean? Can you think of an example–from your own family or culture or a different one–that supports her claim, and an example that refutes it? What are the traditions in your life, and who makes sure they are carried forward?

9. What would be the theme of your quinceañero? What would you include in the ceremony to make it reflect your personality (or just for fun)?

Customer Reviews

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Cuba 15 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 49 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fml i have to read this fr skwl
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
“What can be funny about having to stand up in front of everyone you know, in a ruffly dress the color of Pepto-Bismol, and proclaim your womanhood?” (Page 1) This is the very first line of the book, and already we know a lot about Violet Paz, a girl who is getting ready for her quinceñero. First of all, she does not want to stand on stage in front of her friends and family. She doesn’t want to wear a dress, never mind a pink dress. And she definitely does not want to shout out to the world that she is grown up and has responsibilities. Violet is determined that if she’s going to have to do this, she’s doing it her way. Along with her two best friends, Janelle and Leda, and her culturally inspired abuela, Violet knows she can pull this off. When she isn’t planning her quince or fighting with her father to find out more about her Cuban roots, she is showcasing her family’s crazy life in her original comedy show for speech team. Dominoes in the Paz family is like a world class sport. Violet claims that “Calling dominoes a game in our house is a joke.” (Page 23) Her abuelos hosted a dominoes weekend party at her house over the summer. Most of her distant cousins that she doesn’t usually see even came up. On that Sunday the highlight of Violet’s original comedy show took place and she took no time to write it all down. Violet wants to know more than anything, what happened in Cuba that changed her family. But whenever she asks her Dad he just gets mad and ignores the question. Violet takes matters into her own hands and goes to a ‘Save Cuba’ info party without telling her parents. If her Dad finds out will he be mad? Or will he understand? Will Violet’s quince go as planned? Or will things crash and burn violently? Read Cuba 15 by Nancy Osa to find out more! Anyone that is optimistic and willing to get engrossed in a great story filled with twists and turns will definitely enjoy this book. I give it five out of five stars, because of its creative nature and relatable outlook. Anyone that has time to read should definitely read this book. Osa’s style is original and irreplaceable. Her theatric sense of writing pulls you into the story feeling like a part of the Paz family. During all of Violet’s nonstop changing emotions you find yourself beginning to start to feel the same way that she does. While reading you start to feel as if you were talking to Violet right then and you were writing this all down for her. The story is very interesting and keeps you on your toes, definitely something for the kind at heart. Like Violet and her abuela say “No te preocupes,” (Page 272) do not worry.
jessi97 More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I am a 14 year-old cuban girl and this was a interesting and relatable book for me. I loved it!
allizacleary More than 1 year ago
I read Cuba 15 by Nancy Osa. The book was published in 2005 in March of 2005. The book revolves around the idea of an age turning sophomore, Violet Paz is celebrating her 15th birthday, a big deal in the Spanish world. Due to her grandmother's wishes she will be having the traditional quinceañera that any Cuban girl dreams of, but not in Violet's case! Due to her ethnicity being half Cuban and half Polish, and her have growing up in the United States makes it difficult for her to understand the tradition and culture behind it, bringing out a very upsetting time in her house to have to talk about the past in Cuba. I wasn't the biggest fan of this book, but I didn't hate it. I liked Violet's friends, I felt they added a humorous touch to a more serious book. I don't really like serious or funny books, I'm more into mysterious books. While reading this book, I learned that you need to form your own opinions and beliefs and not go along with other peoples thoughts because they are them and you are yourself, with your own mind. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone, I didn't enjoy it enough to tell other people to read it because that would be torturous.
Tinyearlobe More than 1 year ago
Cuba 15 was not an enjoyable book. It was slow and the plot was very weak. I often found myself bored with this novel and had to force myself to finish it. I would not recommend this book to anyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
     The book I read was Cuba 15 by Nancy Osa. It was published on March 8th, 2005. It’s paperback with 304 pages. The publisher is Random House Children's Books. The main character in this book is a teenage girl named Violet Paz who had just turned 15. She is half Polish and half Cuban. She only knows a little bit about her culture so during the book she tries to learn about her Cuban roots throughout the book. She also knows that her quinceañero is when she enters womanhood. Throughout the book she learns about her heritage.       This book is about a girl who is entering womanhood. She is having her 15th birthday. In the Hispanic culture they call it a girl’s quinceañero. Violet is the girl who is turning 15 and she has a dress that she wears that’s an ugly pink and she wasn’t happy. But she comes to realize that the celebration is a tradition. Another thing that her family likes in the book that she learns about is when they play dominos and dance to Latin music and smoke cigars. She has to stand up in front of all her friends and family with an ugly pink dress and except her womanhood. She doesn’t want to tell everyone that she is now grown up and has her own responsibilities. When she isn’t planning her party, she shows her speech team a comedy that she came up with about her family’s life. You have to read the book to find out how her party turns out.      I personally liked this book because I thought that I could relate in a way. I just turned 15 so I know what she thinks and I think the way she would. It helped me know how they celebrate their way of becoming independent. They do it a year younger and it’s a just like a sweet 16. I think that girls my age like girls who are 13-16. It is more of a girly book so I liked it. "The Cuba Caravan's coming through town. Isn't your dad going? There's gonna be a dance, and a send-off, and" this quote just shows that it explains how a quinceañero works and how it is.       I would recommend this book. I am not a big reader but I really enjoyed this book because I could relate so if you’re a teenage girl and need a book to read this is one that I recommend. It helped me learn about someone else’s culture and how they do things. I don’t get to experience these things so getting to read about it helped and it taught me new Spanish words because this was a Spanglish book. It was a good comedy and it kept my on the edge of my seat which was exciting. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its okay cassidy
Susan Gilliam More than 1 year ago
I think this is a great book so far and it makes great questions for battle of the books for stundents who are interested.
Kiara Torres More than 1 year ago
This book was great
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cuba 15 is a book by Nancy Osa, published by Delacorte Press about a girl named Violet Paz, who considers herself an "all American girl", but in an effort to make her Cuban grandmother happy, she decides to throw a traditional quinceañero, or a "becoming of age" party. Violet is half Polish, and half Cuban, but she feels 100% American at heart. Violet knows that not going through with the quinceañero is not an option, so she decides it's best to embrace her Cuban heritage and go along with it. Even though the thought of her standing up in front of everyone in a pink frilly dress makes her sick. She decided that if she is being forced to throw this party, she might as well make it something that she can enjoy. So Violet tries her best to take party planning into her own hands. "'You may choose to embrace all of the elements of the quinceañero, or you may choose to flush traditions in the toilet and rewrite the ceremony for [it] to fit your personality.' It was good to see this in writing, and it turned out, the church service was optional." (Osa 50) Cuba 15 does start off a little slow, but you get sucked in by her family's crazy antics. This story is funny and amusing the whole way through, and it will definitely keep you entertained. The stories of her crazy family are really what keep you reading more. Violet uses her family as inspiration to write an original comedy skit for her speech team. A normal family cookout at the Paz's house can turn very interesting in just a matter of minutes. "A siren down the street mingled with blazing conga drums from the stereo as we returned to the backyard, to the sight of-flames on the grill. The roast was on fire." (Osa 99) I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for an entertaining book. Not only does this book keep a person interested, but it helps you understand the relationship between Cuba and the United States, "Was a place sin problemas. Was our place. Pero, this Coo-ba is gone. Muerta." (Osa 31) Cuba 15 is a really good book, and I highly recommend it to anyone.
Danielle21 More than 1 year ago
Cuba 15 by Nancy Osa, Published by Delacorte Press in New York March 2005. This book is about a Hispanic girl that just turned 15 so everybody is arranging for her quincenera. But she really doesn't want one, and doesn't want to follow any of the traditions they have for it, because she is also half polish and thinks of her self as 100% American. So her Hispanic grandparents and also her mother are making her have one. The main character is a 15-year-old girl named Violet, and she isn't excited for her quincenera at all, because she doesn't want to wear a big pink dress and be the center of attention. This book is about a 15 year old girl named Violet, and her whole family and friends want to throw her a quincenera but she doesn't want to follow any of the traditions because she thinks their stupid. So they have to come up with some sort of an agreement on it. I didn't like the book because it was about a girl that didn't really want to have a quincenera, if it were me I would love to have one, but I'm not Spanish. She doesn't want to follow any of the traditions of it, so what's the point of having a quincenera if your not going to follow any of the rules for it, I mean you don't have to do the traditions but that's what makes it fun and more real. "The book says you don't have to follow traditions to the letter. You can go with whatever's right for we don't have to do anything we don't want to."(pg.53) I learned more about a girls quincenera and what some of the traditions were, like you have to wear a big fluffy dress and you basically have the spot light all night and there are activities and dances you do at them also and it seems really fun. I wish I could have one, but I'm not Hispanic so I can't have one and if I did it wouldn't be right anyways. I would and I wouldn't recommend this book, it depends on what you're looking for. I mean if you want to learn a little bit about a girls quincenera and her opinions on it, then I would 100 percent recommend this too you. But if you're a boy then I doubt you would want to read this, but most girls would probably like it. If your Hispanic and is turning 15 soon, then you should definitely read this and see what her experience was like during this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cuba 15 is by far one of the best books i've ever read! Written by Nancy Osa, this coming of age novel had fun, clever character that every girl can relate to. The main character, Violet Paz, was so humorous, with her quirky remarks and non-stop personality. The book follws Violet in her journey of planning her quinceanero, or fifteenth birthday; a very important day in Cuban culture. Throughtout the novel, she faces problems with friends, her love life, and most importantly the never ending mystery behind her Cuban heritage. There is one particular part of the book that really stuck with me. In Chapter 24, there is one part about a Halloween party that Violet and all her classmates from her high school attend. On page 176 it says, "Leda had climbed onto the lap of one of the Bullsmen and slung an arm around his shoulders...When the Bull finally tugged his mask off, I stared grimly. It was Clarence." Clarence is Violet's love interst in the story, and Leda is her best friend. The reason this part struck me was because I felt that every girl at some point can relate to this type of situation. Violet thought that Leda was flirting with Clarence so of course she freaked out. I think that everyone, male or female, at one time thinks that the person they like, likes someone else and at the time it seems like a huge deal. That's why that partiuclar part made me laugh because I could truly relate to it. Overall, I really enjoyed Cuba 15. It was a quick, fun read and it was the hardest i've laughed over a book in a long time. This book reminded me how lucky I am to have such a big family, and how fortunate I am that my family is so close. I would reccomned this book very highly to women of any age!
Euphoria13 More than 1 year ago
I LOVED THIS BOOK!!! I'm actually surprised by how i fast i read this! I think it has to do with the fact that i really liked it :) Violet Paz is a sophomore in High School who has just turned 15 years old. Her family is half Polish and half Cuban, yet she feels in between because she doesn't know much about her family roots, especially her Cuban side. When her Abuela (Grandmother) brings up the subject of a Quinceañero, Violet immediately objects to this nonsense. Who in there right mind would want to wear a puffy dress the color of petmol bistmol? Let alone, get in front of a crowd of people and proclaim your womanhood? These are the types of questions and thoughts that linger through Violet's head as her family insist that she have a Quince Fiesta. In case you don't know, a Quinceañero is a traditional coming of age party for Latina girls when they turn 15. A bit similar to a Sweet 16 party. While reading this book i remembered when i turned 15, it really was a special moment for me! I didn't have a Quince fiesta though- i didn't want one. Nancy Osa did such a great job capturing that feeling of when a girl is in that part of her life where she comes to terms with becoming a Señorita (Young Lady) There is also a Sub-Plot in this story that ties in PERFECTLY with the plot of Violet, planning her Quince with her family and two best friends. In school, Violet is invited to join the Speech Team with her two best friends by one of their teacher's. Violet is placed in the Original Comedy section of the team and to her surprise, she finds inspiration for her original piece from her family.Through this assignment, Violet finds herself seeking answers about her Cuban heritage. She even reaches the point where boundaries end up being crossed which results in a heartfelt climax with her family. I believe that a lot of girls would find this book to be an interesting read! It's funny, life like, and touching! Girls who are planning on having a Quince Fiesta will definitely enjoy this story! Grab this book Señoritas! :)
Cuba15reader More than 1 year ago
Cuba 15 is a novel by Nancy Osa it is about a girl named Violet with two best friends named Leda and Janell, and a crazy family! In the story Violet will deal with her abuela, abuelo, father, mother, and her younger brother. Violet's mother is polish and her father, abuelo and abuela are cuban. Violet's Abuela or grandmother will convince violet to have a quinceanero(quince) or a special fifteenth birthday party which is a big deal in Spanish culture it symbolizes becoming a woman but Violet doesn't know if she is ready for such "responsabilidad" as her family says. Her abuela. While planning her quince Violet is also looking for love, and she just might find it when she joins her school speech team with her two best friends. Although this is all going on, Violet is not to busy to become interested in her Cuban culture, by researching Cuba and learning a little more than her very stubborn father wishes for her. I did not like the the book Cuba 15 because of little details that confused me where i did not need to be confused at all, and had no real contribution to the story, such as when Violet says,"Vera Campbell, a junior who sometimes sold the school newspaper(Osa 110)." To me that does not paint a picture, it just makes me wonder, who sells the newspaper the other times? Or why does Vera only "sometimes" sell the newspaper? I much would have rather just kept reading and not have to stop and wonder. I did not like how the author Nancy Osa never left me ending a chapter wondering what's going to happen next because for me that's half the fun! For example she ends a chapter with,"My cast of quince characters, both on and off the stage , was seemingly under control, and i had a headless date for Halloween. Wonders would never cease(Osa 162)." The first thing that i don't like about this quote is I do not understand what she means by having a headless date for Halloween and even after reading the whole book i don't understand. The second thing I don't like about this is that it does not want to make me read on to chapter 23 at all. Maybe if Osa had ended her chapters with more edgy or intense statements or questions i would have been more enthused about this book. Something I did like about this book is that it helped me review my spanish. Her family would talk back in forth in some simple spanish sentences and words. It made me feel proud when I could understand what they were saying. For example,"En esta casa, no hablamos de estas cosas(Osa 213)." When i read this I understood that it ment in this house we do not talk of these things. There are many, many pages with spanish to help review. I learned a lot from this book, I learned all about how important a quince is to the Cuban culture and all Spanish cultures at that. I also learned knew words in Spanish when i saw a conversation in Spanish that i didn't know how to translate, i looked it up and now i have a larger vocabulary. I also ever knew that there was a such thing s a speech team and i think it sounds very interesting, maybe my school should have one. I know the questions running through your mind! Will Violet finding to much about Cuba ruin her now beloved quince? Will Violet perform well enough at the speech competition to move on to the next tourney? Will the boy violet thought was the one actually like her best friend? And most importantly will Violet's relationships with her famil
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
catalina430 More than 1 year ago
I read the book Cuba 15 by Nancy Osa. This book is published by Delacorte Press in New York. The copyright date is 2008. Cuba 15 is bout a 15 year old girl, named Violeta, with Cuban heritage. Throughout the whole novel Violeta tries to discover more and more about her family's past. But whenever she brings it up, she never gets the answer she wants. Violeta's family doesn't like to talk about their life back in Cuba. Since Violeta is 15, it is Cuban tradition to have a quinceanero. A quinceanero is when a 15 year old girl changes from a girl to a woman. Violeta doesn't like the idea of, "having to stand up in front of everyone you know, in a ruffly dress the color of Pepto Bismol, and proclaim your womanhood." (Osa 1). But as the book progresses she warms up to the subject. Throughout all of this chaos Violeta is also in the middle of a speech competition. Violeta goes with the flow when in comes to school. So when she was asked to join the speech team, she couldn't decline the offer. Violeta's life is pretty hectic. And between all of these events she has to listen to her family bicker about her quince. At the beginning of Osa's work it was a struggle to become hooked. But as the novel advanced I became more interested. In order to read this book, you have to enjoy reading for fun, because the book tends to get boring. So I guess you could say I liked the book, not a lot, but I did find interest in it. I sort of liked it, because I liked the descriptions Nancy Osa used to describe certain incidents. What I got from this book, was what a 15 year old girl goes through to have a quinceanero, and what a quince was. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn about a quinceanero, or anyone who finds interest in Cuban heritage.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Violet Paz has just turned 15; the age when a girl enters womanhood and celebrates the occasion with a traditional quinceanera party. This is of great importance to Violets Cuban grandmother. She longs for Violet to have this experience, but Violet realizes she knows little about her half-Cuban, half-Polish heritage; and more importantly nothing about quinces. ¿Since my dear grandmother has offered to throw me a quince party, I have gratefully accepted the idea¿ (pg 48). As Violet helps her mom plan for the party she begins to understand its meaning, and how important this event is to her family. Meanwhile at school Violet decides to use her family¿s loud personality to write a comedy act for her speech teams Comedy Competition. As preparation for the party begins Violet becomes anxious to learn more about her roots. She goes to her father for help since he was born in Cuba and brought to the U.S. as a baby, but he refuses to discuss his culture. The mentioning of Cuba in her family brings her grandmother sadness, and her father anger. ¿How am I supposed to learn anything about Cuba if you won¿t even let me try?¿ Dad¿s face was full of fire. ¿This is precisely what I am trying to save you from, little girl¿ (pg 250)! Instead Violet contacts her Aunt Luz for support; she sends Violet books on quinces, and CD¿s of Cuban music to get started. She learns that a quince girl is supposed to have responsibility, and to Violet that means understanding her Cuban heritage and culture. Violet becomes more and more involved in her speech competition and decides to have the theme of the party be ¿All the World¿s a Stage¿, which makes her celebration unique and personal.

I would recommend this book to anyone who would enjoy a humorous novel about learning more about your culture, and your family. Throughout the book Violet comes to understand that quinces are about traditions, family, and your own self discovery. This was a well written book about the journey of growing up. She discovers just how important her two best friends are to her as they help when Violet runs into trouble along the way. The book kept my attention; and was very interesting to learn about quince celebrations and Spanish traditions.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Violet Paz gives little thought to her ethnicity. She's half-Cuban and half-Polish, but all American. She takes her father's roots for granted, even if her crazy relatives are always visiting for mega-Domino tournaments and zany cookouts. But when her grandmother and parents insist that she participate in her "quince," she is forced into a reluctant and embarrassed embrace with an "old world" tradition.

This debut novel masterfully and subtly details the modernization of the quinceanero, a coming-of-age party for a Latina's fifteenth birthday, through the eyes of a clever and humorous teen living near Chicago. The author, Nancy Osa, accurately captures the resentment of parental influence some teens experience in their quest for their own identity. As Violet struggles with being forced to participate in her own quince, she seeks advice from other adult figures who help her balance parental expectations with her own need for independence. Osa pulls off this high-wire act masterfully, not going "over the top" in teen rebellion fashion, nor making Violet an unbelievably acquiescent parent-pleaser.

Osa weaves the subplot into the novel quite well, also. It makes Violet's self-discovery a double success story: not only does she make her quince relevant to her modern, American life, but she uses her zany family's exploits as fodder for her speech team event.

CUBA 15 has received considerable attention and been nominated for numerous awards. This is a likeable story from a "new" author I hope we hear from again! Five stars.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The novel Cuba 15 was written by Nancy Osa and published by Delacorte Press. The main character is a soon to be 15 year old girl named Violet, who has a Cuban heritage. Violet likes to keep it low key, so she is not too thrilled when her abuela insists that she have a huge quince for her 15th birthday. A quince is a Cuban celebration that is given to a fifteen year old girl to celebrate her becoming a woman. The book is all about Violet learning more and more about her Cuban heritage and planning one of the biggest celebrations that she will ever have in her life. As the quince is getting closer and closer, Violet starts to get excited for it. She was apprehensive about it at first, but begins to really look forward to it. When Violet lies to her parents and goes against their strong political beliefs to support Fidel Castro, a man who took over Cuba causing many people, including Violets family to leave, Violet gets into some huge trouble. Violet, who has a different opinion and a more open mind than her father, was only trying to learn more about her heritage. Unfortunately her father does not understand and wants to cancel her party. Whether he is able to cancel the party or not, he knows one thing for sure: he is not attending it. Violet is extremely upset because of how much this party means to her, and with her father not being there it would never be the same (if she even still gets to have the party). The rest of the story is about how Violet solves this enormous conflict with her family. At the beginning of the novel, the story was kind of boring, because nothing was really going on and it took me a little while to get into it. Once it started getting closer to the end I started to really enjoy it. It becomes really interesting when the author starts writing about many different events leading up to the quince, and you just have to know how everything turns out. Nancy Osa writes, ¿¿What¿s this?¿ he asked, sliding a blue card out. It read, `No. 147599 THANK YOU ________ FOR YOUR 5/2 TAXDEDUCTABLE $5.OO DONATION, CLERGY FOR CUBA/PEACE WITH CUBA FOUNDATION.¿ My raffle ticket. And beneath it, the leaflets I¿d picked up at the rally. Dark clouds filled Dad¿s eyes as he scanned them¿ (p249). Although the beginning was boring, it was worth reading it to get to the end. I learned so much about quinces and Cuban customs. I also learned about the government in Cuba and about the political arguments and fighting that have been going on for quite some time now. Lastly, the characters in the book spoke Spanish, which actually helped me better understand the language and learn a few new words. I would recommend this book to anybody who would like to learn about a new culture. Not only is it filled with new information, but it is a fun way to learn, unlike those boring movies that put you to sleep. It is an exciting story that once you get into to it, you won¿t want to put it down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Violet Paz is half-Cuban,half-Polish heritage but feels much more american. Violet is an outgoing girl who loves theater and was soon to be 15. Her Cuban grandmother suggested that she should have a big traditional 'Quinceanera,' it would help with Violet learning more of the culture's tradition, family coming together, and finding who she was. but Violet was soon to have her big day with the theater theme and the mixture of her cultures. She knew this day was going to be special to her and her family. She studied hard and wrote about her family in trying to have a much more bigger understandment of them. knowing that her family loves the game of domino, she based that on a sketch, which she perfoms in. Overall she comes across her first boyfriend and stuggles again with friendship between her two best friends, who are very close and valuable to her. Cuba 15 is a great book, because it shows that some people with mixed heritage might feel different. People like Violet consider themsevles different then what they are. How Violet said that she was more american but then again she wants to be able to mix her taraditions, the old and the new.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Cuba 15 is about a girl named Violet Paz who isn¿t quite sure about having a quinceanera, or a sweet 15, celebrated in many Hispanic countries. She never really learned about her Cuban roots, and doesn¿t think she knows enough to have a whole Cuban girl-turns-into-woman party. While the party is all her grandmother is talking about, becoming a ¿woman¿ is the last thing Violet even wants to think about. She decides to make her own rules and have a quince that is different, just like her Half-Polish/Half-Cuban self. This is a book that pre-teen/teen girls would enjoy. It has a lot about growing up and learning/appreciating who you truly are. It¿s something I can easily relate to because my parents are from a different country, but I was born in the United States. It¿s a book that I would definitely recommend to my friends, and I really enjoyed. It has taught me to appreciate my culture even more then I did before. It¿s funny, interesting and most importantly, it teaches you a valuable lesson.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Violet Paz, a 15 year old sophmore in high school is told by her dear abuela 'grandmother' that it is traditional to have a quinceañero for all Latin/Cuban girls at the age of 15 for it is known to be the point at which a girl is to become a woman. Violet wants nothing to do with the party whatsoever and does not have that much of a backround knowledge on her Cuban family history. In her family, the tradition for all the girls having their quinceañero is to wear a frilly pink dress, in which Violet does not like, and to speak in front of everyone at the party about her upcoming womanhood, and too she does not like this either. While going through the ups and downs of highschool drama, she has her two best friends Janell very sweet young woman and into art, and Leda who is said to be an activist and vegetarian. These two help her throughout the plans for her party. Violet's father does not wish to talk or even really think about Cuba at all, her mother is right beside Violet's grandmother helping create the whole party under Violet's theme, her grandfather, who is always having small barbeques and playing dominoes in the backyard, and her little brother, Mark, who thinks nothing but sports and does not really want anything to do with his big sister's party. To help Violet with her speech and fear of speaking to her family at her party, she joins a speach team with her friends, where she enrolls in a form of Comedy. Violet does her act portraying her 'crazy' family's life at home. At the tournaments that she goes through, she hopes to impress the judges and coaches with her act and hoping to be able to overcome her fear. Throughout the period of planning her quinceañero, Violet experiences a series of troubles and romance, but through it all, she learns more about her than she thought she knew and finally can't wait for her party. At 'All The World's A Stage', life changes before Violet Paz's eyes. Cuba 15 was a pretty decent book. I learned more about both Cuban and Latin traditions and how different they are from American or any other. It also helped me understand more about quinceañeros and how much work is needed to be put in time is very much needed.