Results of the Pura Belpré Award in the year 2004.
Anita de la Torre never questioned her freedom living in the Dominican Republic. But by her 12th birthday in 1960, most of her relatives have emigrated to the United States, her Tío Toni has disappeared without a trace, and the government's secret police terrorize her remaining family because of their suspected opposition of el Trujillo's dictatorship. Using the strength and courage of her family, Anita must overcome her fears and fly to freedom, leaving all that she once knew behind.
Violet Paz has just turned 15, a pivotal birthday in the eyes of her Cuban grandmother. Fifteen is the age when a girl enters womanhood, traditionally celebrating the occasion with a quinceañero. But while Violet is half Cuban, she's also half Polish, and more importantly, she feels 100% American. Except for her zany family's passion for playing dominoes, smoking cigars, and dancing to Latin music, Violet knows little about Cuban culture, nada about quinces, and only tidbits about the history of Cuba.
So when Violet begrudgingly accepts Abuela's plans for a quinceañero – and as she begins to ask questions about her Cuban roots – cultures and feelings collide. The mere mention of Cuba and Fidel Castro elicits her grandparents' sadness and her father's anger. Only Violet's aunt Luz remains open-minded. With so many divergent views, it's not easy to know what to believe.
All Violet knows is that she's got to form her own opinions, even if this jolts her family into unwanted confrontations. After all, a quince girl is supposed to embrace responsibility – and to Violet that includes understanding the Cuban heritage that binds her to a homeland she's never seen.
One night young Amada overhears her parents whisper of moving from Mexico to Los Angeles where greater opportunity awaits. As she and her family journey north, Amada records in her diary her fears, hopes, and dreams for their lives in the United States. Amada learns that with her family's love and a belief in herself, she can make any journey and triumph over any change — here, there, anywhere.