25 Inspiring Books Written About Latinas You Should Be Reading For Women’s History Month
A good book will either pull you in and remind you of yourself or, help you to lose yourself. Latinas have been mastering the art of storytelling for decades, crafting and weaving tales of our culture and experience to help themselves and others to understand their own cultural experiences has been just one of the many talents they have been able to sharpen and hone.
In the spirit of Women’s History Month here’s a list of 9 inspiring books written by Latinas that are totally worth a read.
1. Women Hollering Creek: And Other Stories by Sandra Cisneros
“A collection of stories, whose characters give voice to the vibrant and varied life on both sides of the Mexican border. The women in these stories offer tales of pure discovery, filled with moments of infinite and intimate wisdom.” — From the Inside Flap
2. This Bridge Called My Back by Cherríe Moraga, Gloria Anzaldúa
“When it was published in 1981, This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color was a vermilion ink bloom on the crisp white wedding dress of the U.S. feminist movement. It was meant to be shocking. This anthology of prose and poetry by Black, Latina, Asian, and Native American women was the first to express loudly, clearly, bilingually that the ‘sisterhood’ could not be colorblind. Women of color are not the same as white women. They experience America differently.” — The Huffington Post
3. Corazón by Yesika Salgado
“Corazón is a love story. It is about the constant hunger for love. It is about feeding that hunger with another person and finding that sometimes it isn’t enough. Salgado creates a world in which the heart can live anywhere; her fat brown body, her parents home country, a lover, a toothbrush, a mango, or a song.” —Amazon
4. Women with Big Eyes by Ángeles Mastretta
“Thirty-nine indomitable aunts are captured in a series of lyrical snapshots in this autobiographically inspired collection, a bestseller in the award-winning author’s native Mexico. Mastretta (Lovesick) originally conceived these brief stories as a way of telling her daughter about her long line of powerful female ancestors; the resulting fictional series of portraits delivers charming lessons in life and love.”—Publishers Weekly
5. You Don’t Have To Like Me: Essays on Growing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding Feminism by Alida Nugent
“In this series of entertaining essays, popular blogger and author Nugent (Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse) documents her journey to feminism while skewering misogynist tropes and delivering some painful truths. Using her own experiences to expand on larger issues, Nugent bravely confides the details of her battle with bulimia and society’s ever-shifting idea of the perfect body…”—Publishers Weekly
6. A Cup of Water Under My Bed by Daisy Hernández
“[Hernández] examines the warmth and pain she found in her relationships with her family, the varied reactions they had when she came out as bisexual, and the cognitive dissonance she experienced as she became upwardly mobile. Throughout, she talks about the power of reshaping your experiences through narrative, of taking the past apart and putting it back together in a way that makes sense to you and makes it truly your own.”—The Huffington Post
7. Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera
“I strongly encourage you to read Juliet Takes a Breath. It’s quite dazzling, funny as hell, poignant, all the things.—Roxane Gay
8. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez
“Why isn’t 15-year-old Julia Reyes a perfect Mexican daughter in her mother’s eyes? Mostly because of her older sister, Olga, who puts family first, listens to her parents, and dresses conservatively. Julia, by contrast, argues with her mother, talks back at school, and dreams of becoming a famous writer. When Olga dies suddenly, Julia is left wishing that they had been closer and grieving what she sees as Olga’s wasted life. And when she starts to suspect that Olga might not have been so perfect, she follows every clue.”—Publishers Weekly
9.The Ladies of Managua by Eleni Gage
“Three generations . . . confront the tumultuous history of their country and their family in this vibrant story about radical acts of womanhood.” ―O Magazine
10. Sudden Death by Álvaro Enrigue
“Sudden Death shows us that games are never merely games, because no game is played without consequences — some of which then permanently clouding our ability to look back and understand the procession of bodies that enable our play, our culture.” —Los Angeles Times
11. The House On Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
This novella by Sandra Cisneros tells the story of Esperanza Cordero, a Latina teen growing up in a Chicago barrio. In a series of vignettes, Cisneros poetically spins Esperanza’s beautiful story of resisting oppression while coming of age. Like so many of the books on this list, Esperanza’s story resonated with Latinas because of the shared experiences of familia and facing obstacles. Even now, readers can vividly recall the sadness of reading about female characters like Esperanza’s abuela, who were so trapped within their lives.
12. Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Speaking of Esperanzas, the main character in “Esperanza Rising” is the privileged daughter of a wealthy landowner living with her parents in Mexico when misfortune forces her and her mother to flee to a California farm workers colony. Set in the era of the Great Depression, Pam Muñoz Ryan’s story spurred our thoughts as young readers on topics surrounding prejudice, choice, economics and labor unions. The plot of this novel took us on a journey riddled with characters who managed to maintain optimism despite living amidst so much sadness and suffering.
13. Quinceañera Means Sweet 15 by Veronica Chambers
As readers of Veronica Chambers’ novel, connecting to Afro-Latina best friend’s Marisol and Magdalena was easy because of their friendship, crushes and familial pressures to maintain their Latino culture. The two friends navigate the cultural divide of being American, Black and Latina while also trying to remain true to themselves and their own interests. No doubt this book inspired young readers to stay educated about ourselves and explore our own roots.
14. Becoming Naomi León by Pam Muñoz Ryan
At the very beginning of this novel, Naomi León’s strong bond with her abuela and brother appear unshakeable. That is until her alcoholic mom inserts herself into their lives and turns everything upside down when she decides to take Naomi away. After a chain of luckless events, Naomi is sent on a flight to Mexico with her brother and grandmother where she discovers her Mexican heritage. Pam Muñoz Ryan’s book helped us to better understand our anxieties as children.
15. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
For many readers, Rudolfo Anaya’s novel acted as an introduction to the world of magic realism, and a unique grandson/abuela bond that was easy to relate to. At the heart of “Bless Me, Ultima” is the story of a boy undergoing a series of rites of passages which put him face to face with themes surrounding identity, free will and fear— subjects Latinas and really all women can relate to.
16. How Tía Lola Came to (Visit) Stay by Julia Alvarez
Who didn’t want a tía like Tía Lola after this read? That is, if they didn’t have one like her already. Julia Alvarez tells the story of a boy named Miguel whose move to Vermont after his parents’ divorce is chaperoned by his colorful Tía Lola. Between this book’s pages is a story of acceptance, cultural diversity and holding onto family, even when it hurts.
17. Cuba 15 by. Nancy Osa
Nancy Osa’s novel is about Violet Paz, a girl who’s part Cuban, part Polish family. Cultures collide when she hits 15. For many Latinas coming from families who immigrated to the U.S., Violet’s narrative was a relatable read that taught them to embrace their multiple cultures.
18. The Guardians by Ana Castillo
Author Ana Castillo bestowed Latinas a fiercely independent female character in Tía Regina. As a young reader of this book, the amorous relationship between Regina and Miguel was a pleasing introduction to sensuous literature that (dare I say) rivaled the likes of Judy Blume.
19. Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros
In this book, Sandra Cisneros writes of the lies, trauma and history that affects a multigenerational family. It all comes out as they take a summer road trip to Mexico City, making us reminisce about long car rides and the pains of learning difficult parts of your heritage.
20. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
“Themes as diverse as growing up first-generation American, Latinx culture, sizeism, music, burgeoning sexuality, and the power of the written and spoken word are all explored with nuance. Poignant and real, beautiful and intense.” ―Kirkus Reviews
21. The Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary by NoNieqa Ramos
“Ramos’ relevant and thought-provoking debut is a powerful addition to any collection.” ―Kirkus Reviews
22. Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova
Alex is a bruja in a long line of brujas. Her Deathday – when she comes into full power with the blessing of her family and all the dead brujas who came before her – is approaching. But unlike her mother and sisters, Alex actually mistrusts magic. After all, magic has done nothing good for her: her godmother died young because of it and her father disappeared after her magic did something so sinister he got scared of her. ―Kirkus Reviews
23. Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore
“A darkly enchanting retelling of the classic fairy tale Swan Lake” ―Bustle
24. Broken Beautiful Hearts by Kami Garcia
“Garcia has become synonymous with a certain breed of drama-filled, compulsively readable romance.” ―Bustle
25. The Friend by Sigrid Nunez
“Nunez’s prose itself comforts us. Her confident and direct style uplifts—the music in her sentences, her deep and varied intelligence.” –The New York Times Book Review
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