Reviews

Once Upon a Quinceañera, by Monica Gomez-Hira

mafyreads's review

Go to review page

3.0

[3.5/5]

Esta reseña está disponible en español en mi blog.

Thank you to Edelweiss and HarperTeen for the opportunity to read this before publishing date.


"If everyone were always obsessed about endings, there would be no beginnings."

Carmen Aguilar just wants her high school diploma, but she had no idea that to get it she would have to almost graduate and work at a company that makes Dreams Come True with her best friend Waverly to do it. Dressing up as Belle during the scorching Miami summer can be tolerated, except that her children's party job becomes a vortex of the past: her ex Mauro returns from Boston to work with them for the summer and her cousin Ariana hires them to perform at her quinceañera. If she didn't feel an atrocious hatred for her ex and his family after they canceled her own quinceañera, things wouldn't be so bad, but now she'll have to learn to work as a team and dance real tight with her new partners.

I want to start with the characters. First Carmen, diosito santo, how obnoxious she was at times. She certainly had a strong character and beware of her, but she was a bit too annoying to even read about. Her indecisiveness and whining was a stress, but you could certainly sympathize and understand her when the situation warranted it because her family did treat her like hell at times.
Then we have the love interests: Mauro and Alex. I'll talk about the two of them first, because I had the same problem when they were introduced into our story, which was that they felt flat and distant. Carmen might already know them, but we didn't and I felt that many emotions I couldn't feel or share because of that lack of information. As for Mauro alone, I must say that you are posed with a story that should make you hate him, but as I said it was impossible for me and fall for him from the beginning. Same and different with Alex, who I should have felt in love for but just pulled me out of the loop or ended up loathing.
Finally, Ariana. The pain in my eyes is not from reading on a computer, it's from every time she appeared on the scene. If Carmen had her stressful moments, Ariana didn't need them, because she was a stressful person. And I'm sorry to say it, but between you and me, the few times the situation made you want to tip the balance from family hatred to small affection I was banging my head against the wall. It's mentioned all the time in the book how words are one thing and actions are another and Ariana demonstrates this by making herself a bit of a hypocrite.
The others, Waverly, Simone, Mirella, Celia, Victor, Cesar and a few other characters, certainly gave something to the story, but I feel that too many of them were missing. Many times it was Carmen, Mauro and Ariana, who are undoubtedly the main ones, but they as secondary characters spent more time behind the curtain than on stage. Well, Tia Celia is no bother, she might as well have fallen off stage altogether. She was a good character, so good that the hatred you have for her is intense.

Speaking of the story, one tiny detail I'd like to mention before going into general context. Once in a while styles were mentioned, whether it was for a date, a dress fitting, between others, and it was brought up to you as something epic, but what I read were outfits I couldn't form in my head or too basic to say wow. I'm not the fashion police, but maybe I would have been better off rethinking either the reactions to the outfits or the outfits themselves, because they didn't seem real.
Now yes, the quinceañera stuff. There were a few tiny plot twists that might have surprised, but they were too obvious that there was no reaction at all, good or bad. Since this is about a dance company and some fifteen year olds, you'd think the book would be all about intense steps all the time, which is false and I appreciate. This could have turned into a dance guide, but Monica knew how to hold the story line.
Although the line was sometimes a little fuzzy. I try to explain as best I can without giving spoilers, so we'll see how this turns out. Just like with the characters, with Mauro and Alex, they had no depth, there were scenes that had almost no depth at all. And I don't mean emotionally, but I was saying they were leaving work, going for ice cream and boom, next day. There were several moments that could have been exploited a little more. Here we do not dislike long stories and giant books if necessary.
But the coolest part of the story was the one that was given depth: the family history. They mentioned telenovelas and no doubt this could be one and we staned this. At every turn you felt the need of a café con leche and some cookies because the gossip was good.
As mentioned in the book from the beginning, Carmen works as Belle at children's parties and another thing I liked was that the author didn't forget this. Despite rehearsing for quinces or being teenagers or whatever, they were still working to make those dreams come true and there are scenes that touched my heart with how beautiful and soft they were. They were the perfect balance to the gossip of La Rosa de Guadalupe ("Mexican telenovela" with a huge audience and variety of memes).
And the ending, I have mixed feelings about that ending. It wasn't bad but things got so chaotic that I can't decide if it was a good ending or just what was expected of it. Mind you, the last sentence? That one we absolutely adored.

For someone like Carmen, who was going to have her quinces party and in the end it didn't come together, this story certainly makes you realize the craziness you missed out on and the drama you were spared.

moukthika's review

Go to review page

2.0

I received this copy via Edelweiss from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The drama in this story was very engaging but the story fell flat for me. The writing felt amateur. Sometimes the story was unclear because of the inconsistent transition between past and present events. I couldn't sympathize with Carmen as she felt too judgemental and had little to no character development. The remaining characters were just one dimensional with little depth. The one thing that bugged me the most was the font. The use of all caps too frequently was a major turn off for me. I expected to learn so much about a Quinceañera but it was given too little focus and the drama felt too much at times. Overall I would recommend this story if someone is looking for an engaging drama.

melannrosenthal's review

Go to review page

emotional lighthearted slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0

alexbates's review

Go to review page

slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

2.0

alittlebitheather's review

Go to review page

funny hopeful lighthearted fast-paced
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

Carmen Aguilar is stuck. After failing to complete a senior project, she is forced into working for Dreams Come True where she dresses up in huge ball gowns as a Disney princess to complete her degree. It won't be so easy, however, when her no-good ex shows up for the summer to work for the same company, much to Carmen's chagrin. I imagine this is what a telenovela reads like with tons of fun drama and family dynamics. All the heart eyes!

spyke8746's review

Go to review page

5.0

Loved how this book portrayed the impact of adult's relationships on on the minds of the young and naïve. Perception is everything.

nidiamelgoza's review

Go to review page

4.0

Once Upon A Quinceañera follows Carmen the summer after she was supposed to graduate high school and is working as Belle for a party Princess company in order to complete the final project that holds her diploma hostage. The drama quickly ramps up when her easy summer suddenly includes working for her estranged cousin’s quinceañera partnered with her Beast of an ex, each having contributed to the worst moment of Carmen’s life. If Carmen wants her happily ever after she’ll need to break the curse that seems to be persistent in winning her over.

I loved how Gomez-Hira really dug into Carmen’s flaws and insecurities, it made her all the more real to me. It’s so hard, especially at that age, not to let other’s beliefs of you define you and at the same time not let your own insecurities hold you back. Carmen goes through some painful but necessary growth, for her own sake as well as her relationships, and Gomez-Hira does well in capturing the inner and outer emotional turmoil.

This book was SO much fun! I could totally see OUAQ being adapted for a Netflix/TV series. It has teen drama/telenovela vibes, with Carmen doing voiceovers at the beginning and end of each episode. Someone get Netflix on the phone!!

Thank you to HarperCollins for the ARC.

mb3628's review

Go to review page

4.0

This book was overall very good! There were many times where I found myself laughing out loud and smiling. However, I found that the ending was a bit predictable. I still loved this story though! :)

beccas_bibliophilia's review

Go to review page

5.0

I haven’t read YA in a hot minute and this book was the best way to dive back into the genre. There’s nothing like a good old fashioned romcom!

I enjoyed the complexity of Carmen’s character, the spectacular romance, and the inspiring self discovery. And don’t even start me on Mauro...

booknightowl's review

Go to review page

4.0

A cute fairy tale of friendship, family and crushes that we enjoy in books. Also with a little bit of drama. I love the quirkiness of the characters and I had some laugh out loud moments. I enjoyed this book. B+