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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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These Break Out Latino Artists Totally Deserve a Spot On Your Playlist Right Now

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These Break Out Latino Artists Totally Deserve a Spot On Your Playlist Right Now

katzuoso / Instagram

If 2018 was a good year for Latino culture in the U.S., 2019 better hold on to its Takis. With the rise of artists like Cardi B, who can top charts in Latin music and rap music. We’re not talking Spanish to English crossover. We’re referencing Drake cooing in Spanish alongside Bad Bunny record-breaking hits like “MIA.”

A new path has been paved, and it started long before these artists came along. We’re Latinos. We’ve been growing in the U.S. and it shows. Here are the artists that are on the verge of breaking out and they have a lot to say. Listen in, no?

Bad Bunny

CREDIT: @badbunnypr / Instagram

I don’t know how this can be, but some of my Puerto Rican cousins still don’t know who Bad Bunny is, so I leave him here for you just in case you’re a lost soul. That’s okay. If Cardi B didn’t come around last year, Bad Bunny would be the breakout Latin trap artist of the year. He just dropped his debut album and it’s yours for the taking.

Melii

CREDIT: @melii / Instagram

Afro-Latina rapper Melii is low key known for covering Cardi B.’s “Bodak Yellow” with an acoustic intro and her own rewrite.

Pro tip: add “Icey” to your workout playlist and get it.

Duki

CREDIT: @dukissj / Instagram

Starting out as a freestyler in Buenos Aires, he won the muy famosa competition “El Quinto Escalón.” His career has taken off in the last year, and he started off 2019 with a new EP drop, “LeBron.”

Wiro

CREDIT: Spotify

Guadalajara based R&B lite artist Wiro has been around for about one second, and people are sold. He’s slinky, has flow and belongs on your chill beats playlist.

Aitana

CREDIT: @aitanax / Instagram

She first emerged as the runner up in Spanish reality talent show Operación Triunfo, but it wasn’t until November 2018 that she really broke international fame as a pop Latin singer. Her debut album Tráiler became the second most streamed album within twenty-four hours of all-time in Spain.

Amara La Negra

CREDIT: @amaralanegraaln / Instagram

Amara La Negra is no newcomer, but since her rise to fame on Love & Hip Hop, she’s made a splash in the music industry. Listen to her new EP “Understanding” and you’ll understand why. 😉

A.Chal

CREDIT: @a.chal_ / Instagram

A. Chal knows that his trap is what we want to hear. Here’s what he told Spotify: “Latin music is evolving right now. It’s about time. Trap is just the rhythm that dominates the youth right now, so all the young artists coming out, that’s what they’re getting on. Any time something evolves, it’s a good time because art represents where humanity is, so the evolution shows we’re in a different chapter, and there’s gonna be a new chapter afterwards.”

Listen to his new album EXOTIGAZ.

Kaina

CREDIT: @_kaifu / Instagram

She’s just 22 years old and her music exudes the sacred energy of soulful, Celia Cruz influenced bedroom pop. She’s heavenly and deserves your attention.

Katzù Oso

CREDIT: @katzuoso / Instagram

His self described silly love songs come to you with ’80s era electronic beats in the smoothest Spanglish we need. His debut album dropped in July 2018, and we’re still listening to “Coqueta.”

Omar Apollo

CREDIT: @omar.apollo / Instagram

Cuidado because Mexicano suave singer-songwriter is about to serenade your heart away. The 21-year-old Indiana based singer is collecting hearts on Spotify, and can also be found in Spotify sponsored playlist “Bedroom Pop”. Now you know.

Cuco

CREDIT: @cucopuffs / Instagram

His Chicano ballads will tempt you like nothing else, and while Cuco was underground for about a year, his appearance at Coachella changed everything. Listen up, because he’s coming up.

Lele Pons

CREDIT: @lelepons / Instagram

Born in Caracas, Venezuela, Lele Pons started out as the most followed and looped Viner. Today, she’s dropping some seriously good beats. Escuche a “Celoso” and thank me later.

Victor!

CREDIT: Spotify

Another Bedroom Pop up and comer is 18-year-old Victor Cervantes. He tells NPR Latino that this is his music: “You take your blanket out of the drier and wrap yourself in it. That’s how my music kind of feels.”

Dos Santos

CREDIT: @dossantoschi / Instagram

The Chicago based group of five have been around for awhile, but with the footholds of Spanish-language music going mainstream, they’re exploding. Think psychedelic cambia meets salsa and classic rock. Then listen.

DaniLeigh

CREDIT: @iamdanileigh / Instagram

Dominican DaniLeigh was recently named YouTube’s “artist on the rise” (de acuerdo) and opened for Cardi B at the Pandora NYC Show al fin de 2018. Check out her latest album “The Plan” released just a few months ago.

Empress Of

CREDIT: @empressof / Instagram

She’s Khalid’s go-to collaborator for her crazy high pitch y suavamente. Their last collaboration, Suncity has been top charting for the last month.

Kim Viera

CREDIT: @kimviera / Instagram

Recognize her yet? She’s our favorite Latina on Pitch Perfect, and she’s collabed with Daddy Yankee on “Como.” Listen to her latest Spanglish EP, “Mirada.” Como no estás escuchándolo?

Rosalía

CREDIT: @rosalia.vt_ / Instagram

Rosalía dropped her first three singles just last year, and is headed to Coachella this year. She’s modernizing and sultrifying flamenca for the mainstream, partnering with the likes of J. Balvin y más.

Soy Emilia

CREDIT: @soyemiliamusica / Instagram

Desde Colombia, Soy Emilia is a dreamy singer, and killer bassist. You need to listen to her collaboration with CERO039 on “Dos Extraños” ASAP.

Tatiana Hazel

CREDIT: @tatianahazel / Instagram

Indie-pop Mexicana-Americana Tatiana Hazel has been posting her music on YouTube since she was 13 years old. Her EP, “Toxic” has received huge acclaim, and we’re about to see this Chicago based star go national, no question.

READ: From Maxwell To Cardi B, These Afro-Latinos Are A Driving Force In The Music Industry Today

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