Hi friends! Today I’m reviewing “Once Upon A Quinceañera” by Monica Gomez-Hira. A digital ARC was provided to me by HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review. The book is available now and you can continue reading to learn more about it, and then check out my review!
Jenny Han meets “Jane the Virgin” in this flashy and fun Own Voices romcom from debut author Monica Gomez-Hira.
Carmen Aguilar just wants to make her happily ever after come true. Except apparently “happily ever after” for Carmen involves being stuck in an unpaid summer internship. All she has to do is perform! In a ball gown. During the summer. In Miami.
Fine. Except that Carmen’s company is hired for her spoiled cousin Ariana’s over-the-top quinceañera… Ariana, aka the Reason Carmen’s Own Coming-of-Age Celebration Ended in Utter Disaster.
And of course, her new dance partner at work is none other than Mauro Reyes, her most deeply regrettable ex.
If Carmen is going to move into the future she wants, she needs to leave the past behind. And if she can manage dancing in the blistering heat, fending off Mauro’s texts, and stopping Ariana from ruining her own quinceañera, Carmen might just get that happily ever after, after all.
“Once Upon A Quinceañera” filled me with all the good summer vibes, Latina rep, and telenovela drama. I adored it.
Let me begin by saying a quick note and thanks to HarperCollins/Epic Reads for their dedication to getting Latinx stories into the hands of Latinx bloggers/reviewers/influencers. For a long while I’ve found it extremely frustrating to watch as review and final copies get sent out to non-own-voices bloggers. Harper has been one of the few publishing houses to make the effort to find Latinx bloggers to review and/or promote Latinx titles. It’s a change myself and many of my fellow bloggers have been pushing and waiting for. So, thanks Harper! Okay, onto the book.
Like I said, I adored “Once Upon A Quinceañera,” and that largely had to do with the characters. I did love the plot of course, that’s what keeps anyone reading, but I genuinely found myself immediately attached to Carmen and Waverly and Mauro and the Dreams. And I was so, so invested Carmen’s mom, her tía and tío, and her cousin, Ariana.
I immediately connected with Carmen and the more we learned about her, the more I saw myself in her, good and bad, surface-level and on a deeper, emotional level. We both love to edit videos and tell stories that way, and we both have a strong appreciation Harry Styles. I also thought it was sorta kismet that Carmen performs as Belle for her summer internship, and Belle is my favorite Disney princess.
Mauro was a fantastic character and love interest. I thought the history between him and Carmen was a great attention grabber, and immediately made me want to know what happened, while simultaneously following them on this new journey. While at times his actions did frustrate me, in the end I really liked Mauro. He’s quick-witted and funny, he and Carmen clearly have chemistry, and he’s really thoughtful. I looked forward to seeing him on page just as much as I enjoyed being in Carmen’s mind.
Something that I loved about “Once Upon A Quinceañera” was the entire family dynamic and storyline. While my own family is definitely no where near the level of dramatics of Carmen’s family, I could still see similarities in small ways through the interactions between them and the importance Carmen’s mom and tía Celia placed on forgiving family.
Don’t get me wrong, Carmen’s tía Celia absolutely annoyed me to no end, and I truly wanted to shake her at one point, but she was vital to the story and family dynamic. I also really didn’t like Carmen’s younger cousin Ariana at first, so going on that journey with Carmen and Ariana was vital to the reader as well, and I think it was very well written.
In fact, this entire story was well written and beautifully told. I will always love stories about brown girls going after their happily ever afters–even better when they’re romcoms. “Once Upon A Quinceañera” is warm, touching, funny, and dreamy. Go read it.
★★★★☆ = Excellent
About Monica Gomez-Hira
Monica Gomez-Hira is the daughter of Colombian immigrant parents, the wife of an Indian immigrant, the mother of a half Latina/half Indian daughter, and the quintessential Jersey girl who loves her salsa as much as her Springsteen. After getting her BA in English at Wellesley College, Monica spent most of her professional life surrounded by books, and the people who love them. She began her career working for literary agencies, moved to publicity and editorial at Simon & Schuster and Random House, and most recently was a Children’s Lead at Barnes & Noble. She lives with her family in Minneapolis, MN. Once Upon a Quinceañera is her first novel.