Monday, June 30, 2008

Cuba 15

Cuba 15
Nancy Osa

Violet Paz is a Cuban-Polish American. She quite aware of her roots, and yet because the mention of Cuba raises such issues with her father and her grandparents, she’s never learned much about the country they fled when her father was only one year old.

Violet is now 15, and her grandmother has said it is time for her quinceanero, the celebration that announces that she is now a woman. Violet is at first hesitant to have this party (she hasn’t even worn a dress since she was in grade school), but gradually she become more excited about.

Violet has also been asked (ordered?) to participate in the school’s speech team. Given the topic of Original Comedy, she creates a routine based on her parents’ domino tournament that truly turns into a farce. There is, of course, a guy on the team that she’s interested in, but he seems awfully slow in making the first move.

As the year passes, Violet makes some serious mistakes (such as going through her speech coach’s desk) and chalks up some firsts (kissing a boy, for one). She works on taking her many “half-talents” and making them into “full-talents.”

I really liked this book. It has some truly hilarious scenes, and yet Osa does an excellent job of bringing for the issue of Cuba-American relations. She does not make any judgments, but does make it clear that there are two sides to the issue.

I’m not quite sure why it took me a week to read Cuba 15. I guess I have found myself busier than expected this summer, but I’m going to try and get back focused on my reading – or else that pile of mine will never go down.

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