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Hispanic Heritage

Fifteenth birthday, female

For hundreds of years young women in Latin America from Mexico to Argentina have celebrated their quinceañera — their 15th birthday — in grand tradition, beginning with a Catholic Mass and continuing on to a large and extravagant celebration. In some parts of the United States the tradition thrives, particularly among second- and third-generation Hispanic girls. Quinceañera parties are generally very lavish, with mariachi bands, a feast, and many guests celebrating the 15-year-old's transition into womanhood.

Read about the experiences of growing up as a Hispanic American girl. Here are some good books to try:

The House on Mango Street (1984). Sandra Cisneros' story of a Mexican American girl growing up in a Chicago barrio.

The Last of the Menu Girls (1986). Denise Chavez's collection of short interrelated stories about an adolescent girl in New Mexico.

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents (1991). Julia Alvarez's set of tales about four sisters from the Dominican Republic who move to New York City.

When I Was Puerto Rican (1993). Esmeralda Santiago's novel about a young girl's experiences growing up in Puerto Rico and then moving to New York.

Canicula: Snapshots of a Girlhood en la Frontera (1995). Norma Elia Cantu's stories of growing up in a border town in Southern Texas.

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