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Once Upon a Quinceañera

Once Upon a Quinceañera by Monica Gomez-Hera

Overview: Carmen hasn't graduated high school, even though it's the summer after senior year. When her senior project fell through, Carmen has to scramble to complete the project over the summer. That means no college (not that she applied) and no future plans beyond becoming a Dream (floating around in a Belle costume at children's parties) with her best friend Waverley. So maybe it's not the summer Carmen wanted, but it's fine. At least until her ex-boyfriend who ruined everything, Mauro, also shows up on the team and then they get assigned to work her nemesis and younger cousin's quinceañera, which becomes the big event of the summer. Nothing ever quite goes to plan for Carmen, does it? Overall: 4

Characters: 4 I enjoyed hanging out with Carmen for a while. She's super witty and cynical in a way that I appreciate. I also loved reading about a character who's just out of high school and doesn't have a super concrete plan. She's considering college possibilities, but she's working on her own timeline. All of these older characters have vastly different college/life plans, and I love that. Carmen is a video editor, and she makes fancams of her favorite TV shows. I love fancams people make and I love video editing for my YouTube channel, so I really connected with Carmen on that level. In one arch of the story, Carmen comes to realize the worth of this hobby that she's continually minimized, and I loved that Mauro (for all his bad moments) was instrumental in that. 

Mauro is a hard love interest to get behind. It's pretty obvious that he's the main guy from the start, even as Carmen pines over Alex (who her younger cousin ends up winning over). The issue is that Mauro is generally obnoxious with a few sweet moments that feel like whiplash. His most compelling storyline is that he's quit photography because he'll never be as good as his professional photographer father. Instead, he's attempted to take on music because it's a bit easier. Just like he pushes Carmen not to reduce her hobbies, Carmen pushes Mauro to follow what he loves, even if that might be hard. 

Plot: 3 The book is a bit winding and repetitive. Most of it takes place during practice for her cousins big event. There's lots of dance rehearsals where basically the same things happens. I couldn't tell if I was just burnt out on school so the book was lagging or if it was the writing itself. Since I read it on my Kindle, I didn't know how long it was when I picked it up, but realizing it's 432 pages and probably was actually quite repetitive. I feel like it could've been edited down a bit more and the streamlined story would've flowed better. I did love all the moments we had where Carmen and the crew were working the kids parties, but the practices could've been less detailed and the love triangle was really unnecessary. 

Writing: 4 Overall, the writing was solid. I liked the character development and their arcs. I got super invested in Carmen's journey, but the plot dragged a bit for me. I just wish the pacing was better. 

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