Entertainment

Young Adult Novels By Latino Authors People Of Every Age Should Read

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Whether you’ve got a summer vacation of soaking up all the Young Adult (YA) fiction on the beach your melanin skin can handle or taking a weekend to revel in another world that reminds you of all those summers long ago, there’s not a soul who doesn’t love YA fiction. Trust.

These days, there is more and more fiction that hits close to that bilingual, multicultural home. These Latino authors will crack open your soul in ways that nobody else can. Are you ready to bear your heart and mind to an alternate reality, reminiscent of all the feelings you carry into the 3-D? If so, here’s the list for your 2019 reads.

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

CREDIT: @epicreads / Instagram

Afro-Dominican Elizabeth Acevedo’s debut novel won the 2018 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, so you know it’s worth a read. Xiomara Batista is confused by how puberty has shaken her body and turns to slam poetry to understand her Harlem life, big feelings, and unstoppable passion. Fall in love with a character who refused to be silent and pray that it’s contagious.

Broken Beautiful Hearts by Kami Garcia

CREDIT: @kamigarcia / Twitter

New York Times bestselling author Kami Garcia gives us a romance-mystery centered around a high school senior athlete whose career is ruined after she’s mysteriously pushed down the stairs. Oh, small detail, it coincidentally happened after she learned her boyfriend’s deep dark secret. Guaranteed plot twists inside.

Pride by Ibi Zoboi

CREDIT: @ibizoboi / Instagram

Haitian and proud Afro-Latina Ibi Zoboi gifted us all a more relatable retelling of Pride & Prejudice with characters of color. Zuri Benitez is a proud Afro-Latina, and when the wealthy Darcy family moves across the street, Zuri’s pride gets in the way of an undeniable tension between cute boy Darius. Toss in college applications and gentrification of Bushwick and you’ve got yourself a new classic.

The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lillam Rivera

CREDIT: @EaglecrestLib / Twitter

Rivera’s debut YA novel was nominated for the 2017 Best Fiction for Young Adults by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) and has been lauded by the likes of NPR, The New York Times and Teen Vogue.

Here’s what we know about Margo, from publisher Simon and Schuster’s website:

“Things/People Margot Hates:

Mami, for destroying her social life

Papi, for allowing Junior to become a Neanderthal

Junior, for becoming a Neanderthal

The supermarket

Everyone else”

I mean, same?

Dealing in Dreams by Lillam Rivera

CREDIT: @kima_jones / Twitter

Alright, next to no one has read this yet, but it’s set for a March 2019 release and with Rivera’s track record, the hype is real. We’re ready to read about 16-year-old Nalah in a dystopian reality on the streets with dreams set on the exclusive Mega Towers. What moral standards will she set, betray, and cross to achieve her dreams, and what’s really most important anyway? Learn from her successes and mistakes this March. I know I will.

The Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary by NoNieqa Ramos

CREDIT: @NoNieqaRamos / Twitter

Boricua NoNieqa Ramos isn’t going to give you some dumb teenage boy drama, because most teens of color have a lot more on their plates. Macy, por ejemplo, is bullied at school and comes home to an incarcerated father, CPS separating her and her brother and the very real biological struggle of being a teenager.

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

CREDIT: @272BookFaith / Twitter

Published in 2015, Adam Silvera has become one of the most loved contemporary YA fiction writers. In his debut novel, we follow teen Aaron after his father commits suicide. He confides in the only person he loves, Thomas, and is grappled by his burgeoning gay identity. He shockingly decides to go to a conversion therapy, memory altering, life-changing Leteo Institute. Find out how his story ends.

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

CREDIT: @poutyreader / Instagram

That’s right. Brooklyn-raised Adam Silvera’s back and teaming up with infamous YA novelist Albertalli to create the story of two teen boys who meet at a post office. Of course, a summer romance ensues. Read it before it’s adapted into a movie (seriously!).

Bruja Born by Zoraida Cordova

CREDIT: @scorpiobookdreams / Instagram

Ecuadorian Cordova knows that her YA readers could not hang with just one book with the element of magica, so she gave us an installment. It’s everything you wish The CW’s Charmed reboot would be, with two bruja sisters growing up in Brooklyn with all the Latino stories we grew up with. It’s not magic realism. It’s real magic.

The Go-Between by Veronica Chambers

CREDIT: @girlsreadtheworld / Instagram

Panamanian-American Chambers who has this kind of impact on her readers:

Caption: “Despite being a fabulous and entertaining read, The Go Between touches on an number of important themes, so the story also gets you thinking. It’s another part of the immigrant experience. Cammi is wealthy and privileged, but she’s Mexican, so she’s assumed to be a scholarship kid. She grew up speaking and is fluent in English, but is surprised to hear people say that she has an accent and that she can’t actually follow everything her teachers and classmates are saying. And she’s happy to have a new experience in LA, but she still misses Mexico – her family, food, culture, language. Cammi both struggles with and revels in her new life in L.A.”

The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano

CREDIT: @HealingFictions / Instagram

Manzano’s own upbringing seeps into this classic which is set in 1969 Spanish Harlem. Evelyn is leaning as far into her Americanized culture as possible and is faced with embracing her Puerto Rican culture when her abuelita moves in. Evelyn starts to see her neighborhood and world in a new, deeper way. Get it for your cousins who swear they’re white.

Honor Among Thieves by Ann Aguirre and Rachel Caine

CREDIT: @jestandhearts / Instagram

Mystery meets sci-fi in a big way when Zara Cole, a petty criminal comes face to face with aliens who want her to come along for the ride of a lifetime… around the universe. This one is written by New York Times bestselling authors based in Mexico.

The Living by Matt de la Peña

CREDIT: @mybookishways / Twitter

When a young teenage boy takes a summer job on a cruise ship, he comes home to a world forever changed. A massive earthquake destroys California and Shy is fighting for his survival. Check into this novel if the apocalyptic world isn’t enough of a thriller for you.

Efrain’s Secret by Sofia Quintero

CREDIT: @erasmoguerra / Instagram

Boricua-Dominicana author Sofia Quintero is the black feminist we need to rewire the white patriarchal handbook we’ve all absorbed as teens. Efrain Rodriguez is a smart teen in the Bronx whose willing to do anything to jumpstart a new life as a college graduate. With no other way to pay the bills, Efrain becomes an honor student by day and drug peddler by night.

The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Pérez

CREDIT: @girlsreadtheworld / Instagram

Mexican-Cuban author, Celia C. Pérez, shares the untold yet ubiquitous story of young punk Latinos in America. Follow the story of 12-year-old María Luia O’Neill-Morales, or as she prefers to be called, Malú. She’s half-Mexican, half-white and she’s angsty af, partly because her mother wants her to be “less punk rocker and more señorita” and partly because…why not?

The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist by Margarita Engle

CREDIT: @lit_actvities / Twitter

Margarita Engle has published over forty novels and children’s books, almost all entirely set in the perspective of Cubanos. In this award-winning YA novel, 14-year-old Tula knows her worth in a world that wants to sell her for marriage. She refuses.

Evolution by Stephanie Diaz

CREDIT: @AuthorKJ / Twitter

Okay, so you have to read two more books before you get to the final installment of the brilliant Extraction series. Trust you’ll want to know how Clem moved away from her birth planet only to discover that those in power plan to destroy her home planet.

Stef Soto, Taco Queen by Jennifer Torres

CREDIT: @DanGemeinhart / Twitter

For our freshly young adult readers, this novel centers around Stef Soto, the daughter of taco truck owners, and recipient of bully’s nickname “Taco Queen.” When it looks like her prayers of the truck ceasing to exist might come true, she becomes its unlikely champion, saving her family business and realizing that, really, there is a comfort to be found in a warm tortilla.

Dreams of Significant Girls by Cristina García

CREDIT: @stevenbuechler / Instagram

This one is an oldie (published in 2011) but a goodie. Think Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants from the perspective of three different girls at a summer camp in Switzerland. García tells the story as only a Latina can.

=A Cup of Water Under My Bed by Daisy Hernandez

CREDIT: @nastymuchachitaread / Instagram

While this isn’t strictly YA Fiction, this coming of age memoir is for your inner child, who, too early on, was warned by your mami about men seducing you with pastries. Hernandez story of her Cuban-Colombian family bringing her up in NYC as she begins to understand her queerness, what it means to be bilingual in two different rooms, and how to find your true self.


READ: These Books By Peruvian Authors Spoke To Me In A Way No Others Could

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This Short Film Centers Around A Black Father Doing His Daughter’s Hair

Entertainment

This Short Film Centers Around A Black Father Doing His Daughter’s Hair

When it comes to grooming a daughter’s hair, Black fathers haven’t been shy about expressing the difficulties that come along with the morning ritual. And Afro-Latino fathers are no exception. In Latinx communities with large Afro-Latino populations, having “good hair” is a label we all have to contend with. Young girls have a lot of pressure put on them to look put-together so, by extension, our families look put together. 

We all have memories of our mothers making sure our baby-bangs were smoothed down and our outfits were washed and pressed to perfection. 

Being well-groomed is so important to Afro-Latinos who face societal pressure to look perfect in order to combat bias.

Kickstarter

So, when fathers occasionally have to groom their children when their mother is unavailable, the pressure, needless to say, is on. We’ve all seen the genre of viral videos where fathers struggle to part, brush, braid and secure their daughters’ hair–obviously not previously aware of all the labor that goes into daily hair upkeep. Even celebrities have gotten in on the trend with men like Alexis Ohanian, husband to Serena Williams, joining “Natural Hair” groups on Facebook to learn more about their children’s rizos

Writer/director Matthew Cherry wanted to explore the topic of Black fathers doing their daughters hair, so he decided to make an animated short about it.

Kickstarter

According to Cherry, the short, titled “Hair Love” is about a Black father (who has locs himself) who does his daughter’s hair for the first time. “You know how guys are, a lot of times we’re hard-headed and we think we can figure everything out by ourselves without asking for help,” said Cherry during an interview. “[The father in the short] thinks it’s going to be an easy task but he soon finds out her hair has a mind of its own”. 

The father isn’t the only one who learns a lesson in self-confidence in the course of the film, though. In the end, the young girl also “comes into a level of self-confidence in the process” of her father learning how to do her hair. So, in other words, the entire film is an ode to self-love, family, and the priceless experience of bonding.

To finance “Hair Love”, Cherry created a Kickstarter campaign with the initial goal of raising $75,000. The campaign quickly caught the internet’s attention and became a viral phenomenon thanks to celebrity champions like Issa Rae and Jordan Peele. The $75,000 goal was quickly surpassed. All in all, the campaign raked in a total of $280,000–smashing Kickstarter’s short-film financing records. 

Cherry recruited Black animators like “Proud Family”‘s Bruce W. Smith and “WALL-E”‘s Everett Downing Jr. to help him make his dreams a reality.

As for Cherry, he’s candid about the reason he decided to explore the topic of Black hair and Black fathers: because mainstream media’s representation has left much to be desired. According to Cherry, not only did he want to shine a light on the labor of love that doing Black hair requires, but he wanted to highlight the relationships between Black fathers and their daughters. 

“For me, I just think it was really important to shine a light on Black fathers doing domestic things with their kids because mainstream media would lead you to believe that Black fathers aren’t a part of their kids’ lives”, Cherry said. “And there have been a lot of recent surveys that actually show otherwise–that show that Black fathers are just as involved in their kids’ lives as any other racial group”.

Now, “Hair Love” will be played ahead of “The Angry Birds Movie 2” in theaters nationwide

Kickstarter

The nationwide release will provide a massive platform for an under-told story. Not to mention, it will provide Black children with their own images reflected back to them–something many of them haven’t seen before. Not to mention, the security of a theatrical release has made “Hair Love” officially eligible for an Academy Award nomination. 

As for Cherry, he’s over-the-moon about the opportunity for his project to be seen by millions of people. “To see this project go from a Kickstarter campaign to the big screen is truly a dream come true,” he said in a press statement. “I couldn’t be more excited for “Hair Love” to be playing with “The Angry Birds Movie 2” in front of a wide audience and for the world to see our touching story about a Black father trying to figure out how to do his daughter’s hair for the very first time.”

We’ll admit: we didn’t have plans to see “Angry Birds 2” in theaters before we knew about this. But now, you might just see us on opening night, standing in line for the movie right next to our fathers! Catch “Hair Love” before  “The Angry Birds Movie 2” in theaters on August 14th.

Video: This Is How People Reacted When They Heard A White Mom Tell Her Adopted Latina Daughter To Speak English

Culture

Video: This Is How People Reacted When They Heard A White Mom Tell Her Adopted Latina Daughter To Speak English

It seems like every other day there’s a new viral video of an old Trump supporter or a young white bro telling a Latinx person in the US to stop speaking Spanish. Recently, two elder women angrily ordered a Puerto Rican manager of a Central Florida Burger King to go back to Mexico when they overheard him speaking Spanish in a private conversation, while two Mexican-American women were detained by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection just for speaking Spanish at a Montana supermarket. The xenophobic and racist attacks, both verbal and physical, have made many feel like it’s dangerous to speak their own tongue or like an outcast for communicating to their parents or grandparents in the only language they know.

The English-only movement has further divided a country, with those ignited by the bigotry of the Trump administration unfoundedly threatened by just the sound of a person of color speaking another tongue and others who understand there is no official language in the US supporting the linguistic freedom and multiculturalism that allegedly makes the nation exceptional. 

On an episode of What Would You Do?, host John Quiñones confronts the schismatic topic. 

During the nearly 9-minute-long segment of the ABC series, a white mother tells her adopted Latina daughter to only speak Spanish and instructs her to order a hamburger instead of a traditional Latin American dish. Using hidden cameras to record the very common, but in this case staged, scenario, viewers get a peak of how ordinary people behave when they witness dilemmas that either compel them to intervene or mind their own business.

During the segment, Michele, the mother, and Isabella, the daughter, are grabbing a bite at a diner in Orangeburg, New York. The child asks the Latina waitress for arroz con leche, to which her mother responds, “Isabella, stop speaking Spanish. You’re American. That is not your language. What is wrong with you?” The first person to overhear, an elder white teacher, engages with the duo, telling Michele she doesn’t think she’s going about the situation “in the right way.” 

“She should be proud of her Spanish language, not to be made to feel like she’s doing something wrong,” she tells the mother. Later, she even advises the mom to learn Spanish and tells the young girl that Spanish is a beautiful language.

When Quiñones, himself a Texas-born Mexican-American, reveals his crew and asks why the woman intervened, she responded, “When it comes to children, I go from a mouse to a lion. I just don’t like anybody taking advantage of a child.”

In another scene, Isabela asks for arroz con pollo. Michele, visibly upset, scolds the girl. “Isabella, in English,” she demands. “I brought you here to give you a better life, and I want you to speak American.

This time, another teacher in a nearby table overhears and decides to offer Michele a quick lesson — in patience.

ABC

When Michele stresses that she just wants her daughter to speak English because they’re in the US, the teacher sympathizes with her. “I know. I’m a teacher, and I get it. But you’re not going to get anywhere demanding it, and you can’t get frustrated by it.”

She then turns to the girl and attempts to rationalize her mother’s actions. When Isabela asks the woman “do you think it’s wrong to speak Spanish,” she replies, “Not to mommy, because mommy doesn’t understand that. It’s good manners if you are with other people that don’t speak it, to speak English.”

When Quiñones pops out and confronts the patron, he asks her why she didn’t flat-out tell the mother she was wrong. The woman, who noted that Michele would have had better results honoring rather than attacking her daughter’s native tongue, said she was “getting very frustrated” and “was thinking maybe it was very bad,” but doesn’t know why she didn’t challenge Michele more on it.

In the next case, it’s a Puerto Rican diner who overhears the conversation. Not immediately making any comment, when Michele steps away, Isabela engages with the patron, who informs her she, too, speaks Spanish. “Yo hablo español,” she says, before asking if the young girl likes living in the US. “That’s good that somebody loving adopted you,” she says.

When Michele returned, she asks the woman if she agrees that her daughter should be speaking English instead of Spanish, to which she responds yes. At that moment, her partner, a white man, appears puzzled and chimes in: “You speak Spanish,” he tells his girlfriend. “I don’t make you speak English.” He then reacts to Michele, saying, “She [his girlfriend] speaks Spanish whenever she wants, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

When Quiñones comes out, he asks why the couple reacted the way they did. The boyfriend didn’t agree with the mother, explaining, “that’s who she is. That’s part of her identity.” As for the girlfriend, who was more sympathetic to the mom, she disclosed the discrimination she and her family experienced as Latinas in their predominately white neighborhood speaking Spanish and hoped the girl wouldn’t share her same fate. “I was a little annoyed in a way,” she said, “… but I’ve dealt with that.” She continued: “my mother spoke no English, and I had many fights when I was a teenager, people who would make fun a lot of times.”

Finally, in the last performance, it’s a white woman who is married to a Greek immigrant who is shaken by the confrontation. Angry by the conversation she overhears, she checks in on Isabela the moment her mom steps away, asking the girl if she wants her to call someone for her own safety and soon after informing a manager of the situation and urging them to phone officials who could help the girl.

When the mother returns, the woman confronts her. 

ABC

“We’re foreigners, so I don’t really understand what you’re talking about.” After Michele responds, “I just want her to be more American,” the woman questions, “and just forget about where she came from?” She continued: “We’re from Greece. We would never forget where we come from.”

Michele suggests that it’s different because her daughter is from Mexico, to which the woman, furious, says, “so you guys don’t accept Mexicans in your family?”

She added: “This is a melting pot of thousands of different people. My husband is Greek and my kids will speak Greek.”

Quiñones, who appears in the midst of the argument, informs the patron that she is on a TV show. The woman, who says she’s glad it’s fake because she was about to punch Michele, reaffirms that the US is a country where everyone is supposed to be welcomed and could proudly speak with their language. 

Meeting the actress who played Isabela, the woman tells her, “You would have been coming home with me tonight, and you would have been speaking English, Spanish, and Greek.”

Watch the entire segment below! 

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