Originally this post was meant to be a list of my favorite books by and about Latinx people for Hispanic Heritage Month (which is from September 15th-October 15th), but as I began to create the list…I realized that my read list is woefully lacking in books that meet this criteria and as a librarian in a community that serves a majority Latinx population, I’m honestly ashamed of myself. So instead, let this blog post serve as a reading list not only for Hispanic Heritage Month, but also for the remainder of the year. I can and will do better to better serve the community I work in, and also expand my worldview and understanding of other peoples’ experiences. Without further ado, here are the books by and about Latinx folks I hope to read by the end of the year:
Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson
I loved The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You by Lily Anderson, so this one has been on my TBR for awhile. Body positive characters? Zombies? Girl Gangs?! Count me IN! Add to that that Lily is a fellow librarian, and reading this is LONG overdue! More about Undead Girl Gang:
Mila Flores and her best friend Riley have always been inseparable. There’s not much excitement in their small town of Cross Creek, so Mila and Riley make their own fun, devoting most of their time to Riley’s favorite activity: amateur witchcraft.
So when Riley and two Fairmont Academy mean girls die under suspicious circumstances, Mila refuses to believe everyone’s explanation that her BFF was involved in a suicide pact. Instead, armed with a tube of lip gloss and an ancient grimoire, Mila does the unthinkable to uncover the truth: she brings the girls back to life.
Unfortunately, Riley, June, and Dayton have no recollection of their murders, but they do have unfinished business to attend to. Now, with only seven days until the spell wears off and the girls return to their graves, Mila must wrangle the distracted group of undead teens and work fast to discover their murderer…before the killer strikes again.
The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez
This book was read by one of the book clubs at work recently and both my coworker who led it and the participants loved it, so I knew I wanted to read it too! This novel has obviously gotten rave reviews from readers and review publications alike, so I really can’t wait to dive in. More about The Book of Unknown Americans:
After their daughter Maribel suffers a near-fatal accident, the Riveras leave México and come to America. But upon settling at Redwood Apartments, a two-story cinderblock complex just off a highway in Delaware, they discover that Maribel’s recovery–the piece of the American Dream on which they’ve pinned all their hopes–will not be easy. Every task seems to confront them with language, racial, and cultural obstacles.
At Redwood also lives Mayor Toro, a high school sophomore whose family arrived from Panamá fifteen years ago. Mayor sees in Maribel something others do not: that beyond her lovely face, and beneath the damage she’s sustained, is a gentle, funny, and wise spirit. But as the two grow closer, violence casts a shadow over all their futures in America.
Peopled with deeply sympathetic characters, this poignant yet unsentimental tale of young love tells a riveting story of unflinching honesty and humanity that offers a resonant new definition of what it means to be an American. An instant classic is born.
We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia
There are quite a few debuts on this list, and here’s the first one! This came out at the beginning of the year and got major acclaim from a fellow librarian, so it’s been on my list for awhile…I just haven’t had a chance to pick it up (but now I have my own physical copy so no more excuses!). This is the first in a series, with the second one expected to come out next year; more about We Set the Dark on Fire:
At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children, but both are promised a life of comfort and luxury, far from the frequent political uprisings of the lower class. Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but her bright future depends upon no one discovering her darkest secret—that her pedigree is a lie. Her parents sacrificed everything to obtain forged identification papers so Dani could rise above her station. Now that her marriage to an important politico’s son is fast approaching, she must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society, where famine and poverty rule supreme.
On her graduation night, Dani seems to be in the clear, despite the surprises that unfold. But nothing prepares her for all the difficult choices she must make, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio. Will Dani cling to the privilege her parents fought to win for her, or to give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of a free Medio—and a chance at a forbidden love?
Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno
I love love LOVE YA Romance, so this debut title has been on my TBR since it came out in May! I’m really excited to finally sit down and read it, and can you BELIEVE that absolutely gorgeous cover?! More about Don’t Date Rosa Santos:
Rosa Santos is cursed by the sea-at least, that’s what they say. Dating her is bad news, especially if you’re a boy with a boat.
But Rosa feels more caught than cursed. Caught between cultures and choices. Between her abuela, a beloved healer and pillar of their community, and her mother, an artist who crashes in and out of her life like a hurricane. Between Port Coral, the quirky South Florida town they call home, and Cuba, the island her abuela refuses to talk about.
As her college decision looms, Rosa collides – literally – with Alex Aquino, the mysterious boy with tattoos of the ocean whose family owns the marina. With her heart, her family, and her future on the line, can Rosa break a curse and find her place beyond the horizon?
Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Okay I’ve seen this book all over Bookstagram (thanks BOTM) and I have heard so many praises about Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s writing , so I had to grab it when I saw it on shelf at my library! I have really high expectations about this one, so here’s more about Gods of Jade and Shadow:
The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.
Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.
In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.
Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older
I began listening to this on audiobook a week or so before I wrote this blog post, and while it’s definitely outside my normal reading preferences (i.e. I really don’t read a lot of fantasy- the more realistic, the better for me), the way in which Daniel José Older blends fantasy in real life Brooklyn in this novel has me mesmerized! I’m almost finished, and I’m really enjoying the world he’s creating in this series. More about Shadowshaper:
Sierra Santiago was looking forward to a fun summer of making art, hanging out with her friends, and skating around Brooklyn. But then a weird zombie guy crashes the first party of the season. Sierra’s near-comatose abuelo begins to say “Lo siento” over and over. And when the graffiti murals in Bed-Stuy start to weep…. Well, something stranger than the usual New York mayhem is going on.
Sierra soon discovers a supernatural order called the Shadowshapers, who connect with spirits via paintings, music, and stories. Her grandfather once shared the order’s secrets with an anthropologist, Dr. Jonathan Wick, who turned the Caribbean magic to his own foul ends. Now Wick wants to become the ultimate Shadowshaper by killing all the others, one by one. With the help of her friends and the hot graffiti artist Robbie, Sierra must dodge Wick’s supernatural creations, harness her own Shadowshaping abilities, and save her family’s past, present, and future.
Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera
I absolutely loved Gabby Rivera’s run of America for Marvel Comics, so I’m super excited to pick up a novel from her! This book was originally published in 2016 with a small release, but Gabby is now re-releasing this semi-autobiographical title with Penguin Random House. I can’t wait to get my hands on it (of course there’s a mega long holds list!), so here’s more about Juliet Takes a Breath:
Juliet Milagros Palante is a self-proclaimed closeted Puerto Rican baby dyke from the Bronx. Only, she’s not so closeted anymore. Not after coming out to her family the night before flying to Portland, Oregon, to intern with her favorite feminist writer–what’s sure to be a life-changing experience. And when Juliet’s coming out crashes and burns, she’s not sure her mom will ever speak to her again.
But Juliet has a plan–sort of. Her internship with legendary author Harlowe Brisbane, the ultimate authority on feminism, women’s bodies, and other gay-sounding stuff, is sure to help her figure out this whole “Puerto Rican lesbian” thing. Except Harlowe’s white. And not from the Bronx. And she definitely doesn’t have all the answers . . .
In a summer bursting with queer brown dance parties, a sexy fling with a motorcycling librarian, and intense explorations of race and identity, Juliet learns what it means to come out–to the world, to her family, to herself.
Dealing in Dreams by Lilliam Rivera
This title first caught my eye on Netgalley because I have a secret love of science fiction, and of course that insanely gorgeous cover (insert heart eyes emoji)! Lilliam Rivera is an acclaimed YA writer that I’ve been wanting to check out for awhile so after I read this one, I hope to read her debut work The Education of Margot Sanchez. More about Dealing in Dreams:
Nalah leads the fiercest all-girl crew in Mega City. That roles brings with it violent throw downs and access to the hottest boydega clubs, but the sixteen-year-old grows weary of the life. Her dream is to get off the streets and make a home in the exclusive Mega Towers, in which only a chosen few get to live. To make it to the Mega towers, Nalah must prove her loyalty to the city’s benevolent founder and cross the border in a search for a mysterious gang the Ashé Ryders. Led by a reluctant guide, Nalah battles other crews and her own doubts, but the closer she gets to her goal, the more she loses sight of everything—and everyone— she cares about.
Nalah must do the unspeakable to get what she wants—a place to call home. But is a home just where you live? Or who you choose to protect?
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW. How am I a Teen Services Librarian without reading this book? Honestly, I have no idea why and cannot give any valid excuses for it, but I am making up for it now. I have heard this book’s praises both from librarians and teens alike, so I know I’m in for a true treat when I’m finally able to read it! More about Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe:
This Printz Honor Book is a “tender, honest exploration of identity” (Publishers Weekly) that distills lyrical truths about family and friendship.
Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez
Erika L. Sánchez grew up in a town near where I work now, so this book holds a special place for me. This was a smash bestseller debut, even becoming a finalist for the National Book Award! This has been on my list since it came out and since I started my job, so I’m going to do it by the end of the year (someone please hold me accountable)! More about I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter:
Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family. But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role.
Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed.
But it’s not long before Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as perfect as everyone thought. With the help of her best friend Lorena, and her first kiss, first love, first everything boyfriend Connor, Julia is determined to find out. Was Olga really what she seemed? Or was there more to her sister’s story? And either way, how can Julia even attempt to live up to a seemingly impossible ideal?
Do you have favorite books by Latinx creators, or fabulous books featuring Latinx folks? Comment with them below so I can add them to my TBR! This is definitely an area of literature I want to incorporate more into my year-round reading.
Until next time!