In an effort to celebrate Hispanic authors beyond National Hispanic Heritage month, I plan to read and post about YA novels written by Latino/as. You may also want to check out Latina Book Club, a site by Maria Ferrer dedicated to promoting Hispanic authors and literacy.
And, today’s YA author in the spotlight is: Nancy Osa. Enjoy!
AUTHOR: (information comes from the author’s website http://www.nancyosa.com): Nancy Osa was born in Chicago, grew up in South Holland, Ill., and now lives in Portland, Oregon. Her father is from Cuba, and her mother’s side of the family traces back to the Mayflower. Her first novel, written as her BA thesis, remains unpublished. Her debut novel, CUBA 15, earned the following awards/honors: Pura Belpré Honor Book, ALA Notable Book for Children, YALSA Best Book for Young Adults, An Americas Award Honor Book, a Booklist Top Ten First Novel for Youth, A Children’s Book Sense 76 Pick, A New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age, Delacorte Press Prize for a First Young Adult Novel.
YA NOVEL: CUBA 15
BOOK DESCRIPTION FROM AMAZON.COM: “Violet Paz has just turned 15, 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.”
MY TWO CENTS: I have read a lot about, and even written an article or two, about the Hispanic Sweet 15 party, so I was familiar with the subject going into this book. Osa does a great job of presenting all that goes into this important ceremony and representing Violet’s mixed heritage: Cuban, Polish, and American. All of the characters are distinct, and well-developed with the right mix of seriousness and humor. Violet is a members of the debate team, which is cool and something I had never seen before with a Latina protagonist. I often read books by Hispanic authors about the harsh realities of living in poverty. I have to say, reading CUBA 15 was a refreshing change.
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