Posts Tagged 'culture'

Sofi Mendoza’s Guide to Getting Lost in Mexico by Malin Alegria

Genre: Realistic Fiction/Multicultural

Age Level: 14 and up

# of Pages: 276 p.

RAC Book: yes

Sofi Mendoza was born in Mexico, but moved with her parents to the U.S. when she was three. She can’t speak Spanish and knows very little about Mexican culture. Her parents are okay that she is “American” because they came to the U.S. to get her better opportunities. Despite the fact that her parents denied her permission to go to a party in Tijuana, Sofi decides to go anyway because she wants to hang out with a boy. Things do not go as planned and on the way back into California Sofi is told her green card is fake and she must stay in Mexico.

Luckily, Sofi has an aunt nearby, but she finds life in Mexico very difficult and different from what she’s used to. There is limited electricity and running water, little access to phone and internet, and bugs everywhere. As Sofi begins to realize how serious her situation is she is forced to learn more about her Mexican heritage and family.

This story touches on many timely issues such as citizenship and illegal immigrants. Sofi behaved as a typical American teen in many ways, but was shocked to see the poverty in Mexico and realized how much she takes for granted. Sofi’s story forces the reader to think about what it would be like to be in the situation many Mexicans face, which is the choice between poverty and ill-education or trying to make it in a country that does not want you. This story was entertaining as well as informative about this topic, despite the fact that Sofi often gets very lucky at getting out of tough or even dangerous situations, and many readers will come to care about Sofi and her family. A good read.

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Once Upon a Quinceanera by Julia Alvarez

Genre:  Multicultural Literature/Realistic Fiction

Age Level:  14 and up

# of pages:  269

RAC Book:  Yes

Once Upon a Quinceanera follows the author, Julia Alvarez, as she explores the Latino tradition of the quinceanera, which is the celebration given to daughters on their 15th birthdays.  The story follows the specific quinceanera of Monica.  Although based on a real girl, her name was changed to Monica to protect her identity.  As Alvarez follows Monica’s big day she also discusses the tradition of quinceaneras, the growth of them in the U.S., and the impact they have on those girls who have or don’t have them.  There is a lot of discussion about the Latino culture here in the U.S. as well as the reasons behind each of the traditions such as the “last doll” and the significant change from flats to heels. 

Alvarez also explores her own life and how the pressures and expectations to follow in traditional Latina roles conflicted with her own desires such as college and becoming an author.  This book explores both sides of these parties:  the side that wants to celebrate a girl becoming a woman and the side that believes these parties are too expensive and overdone.  The explanations of how these parties have developed over the years was extensive and important for the story and is good for anyone not familiar with the tradition to know.  The quinceanera is only going to continue to grow in the U.S. and it’s important for non-Latinos to understand what it is Latinos are celebrating and respecting it for what it is, which is more than an elaborate party.

 


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