Author Malin Alegria Builds On 'Estrella's' Star Power

Writer Malin Alegria's first novel, Estrella's Quinceanera, covers familiar territory for anyone who has ever been a 15-year-old girl battling with her mother — but the fact that the book's sassy protagonist, Estrella Alvarez, is Mexican-American makes her unique in the world of young adult fiction.

Alegria's book follows Estrella through that quintessential coming-of-age experience for many Latinos — the traditional party that happens when a girl turns 15. Seduced by her new friends' luxurious lifestyles, Estrella becomes embarrassed by her home, her family and, most of all, the quinceanera birthday party her aunt and mother insist on throwing her.

Estrella's Quinceanera came out in 2006, but it has found enduring success in the country's Latino communities. So much so, that Scholastic has commissioned her to write a four-book series for Latino teens, the first installment of which comes out in May 2012.

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