Alegria is best known for the Scholastic teen series Border Town, about a group of teens coming of age in the town of Dos Rios, Texas, and the bookEstrella’s Quinceañera. As Alegria herself put it, “I had to do a lot of hard research for this book: going to lots of quinceañeras, eating a lot of food, and dancing with all the guests. It was a tough job, but somebody had to do it.”[Ed. note: If she needs, like, an intern or something, we’re down to make that sacrifice.]Reading her books feels like hanging out with an old friend, natural and real.
A Cuban-American author, Engle is the winner of the 2009 Newbery Honor for “the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children,” making her the first Latina to win it. Major props! She writes in young adult verse, which makes her stories distinct and powerful. Her writing hails straight from the heart — and the Cuban culture. If you’re new to her work, start with The Surrender Tree, her multiple award-winning collection of poems about Cuba’s continued journey to freedom.
Ooooh, let me tell YOU about Esmeralda Santiago! I’ll admit, I’m biased here. I’m Puerto Rican, and her book When I Was Puerto Rican spoke to me on a deep level. Homegirl is incredible, whose memoirs and novels give amazing insight into her personal journey.
This is one YA adult author you need on your radar for sure. Her books are fascinating and genuine, especially since Sanchez was a high school teacher and has plenty of experience to draw from when it comes to understanding young adults. Also, her recent novel has a pretty dope name: Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia. COOL, YES, I’M IN.
Kiera Cass is the Puerto Rican New York Times bestselling author of The Selection series, a collection of four books. Cass is high on the list of authors to read because her novels have been described as “The Bachelor” meets “Hunger Games.” Say what?! Only a true queen could write such amazing things.
Sánchez, who was born in Mexico to parents of Cuban and German heritage, is known for his YA books, and specifically for writing about the LGBT experience during teenage years. His book Rainbow Boysis the first novel in his trilogy that focuses on gay issues and questioning life as you come of age. If you haven’t read it already, it should definitely be on your “to read NOW” list.
She’s got a knack for writing about what it’s like to grow up Latino, and that’s precisely why this author needs to be on your list. She’s a New York Times bestseller and is best known for the novels Esperanza Rising, Becoming Naomi León, The Dreamer and Echo, all of which feature young, strong-willed characters in beautifully fantastic settings.
The Young Adult universe is wildly popular, and it’s always inspiring to take a closer look and see fellow Latinos who are incredibly important to such a well known literary genre. HELL. YES. Ok, now go read.
Growing up, the only time we heard stories that resonated with us was reading that one Latino authored book during Hispanic Heritage Month. Thankfully, the number of Latin-American authors have skyrocketed since grade school.
Whether you’re searching for the next memoir to grip your heart, a work of fiction to expand your imagination or an anthology of poems to take in, we’ve got you. Here are the most anticipated Latino-authored books that have already been released, or are scheduled to be released in 2019.
“The Affairs of the Falcon” by Melissa Rivero
CREDIT: @melissarivero_ / Instagram
Peruvian author Melissa Rivero’s “The Affairs of the Falcon” marks her debut into the world of fiction. You can bet her experience as an undocumented immigrant living in Brooklyn seeps all the fear, dreams and determination into each page and each reader’s heart.
“Native Country of the Heart” by Cherríe Moraga
CREDIT: @thefeministreader / Twitter
Activist Cherríe Moraga is giving us a heart full of love and loss—from everything she learned about her mother’s immigration story from Mexico to the U.S. before she passed from Alzheimer’s to her lesbian coming of age story in a Mexican-American family. Moraga gives us it all.
“In the Dream House: A Memoir” by Carmen Maria Machado
CREDIT: @carmenmmachado / Instagram
Machado is taking us inside a world that is so evasive and difficult to describe: her experience in an abusive same-sex relationship. The way she places you smack dab in the emotional whirlwind of her past is pretty creative and worth reading.
“Mouthful of Birds” by Samanta Schweblin
CREDIT: @librarypoweruser / Twitter
Schweblin has been lauded by The New York Times as “the most acclaimed Spanish-language writers of her generation.” Her newest release is exquisite and bizarre in its own right. One Amazon reviewer described it as “Eerie, chilling, heartbreaking, thought-provoking. A must read.” You just have to read it to understand.
“Analee in Real Life” by Janelle Milanes
CREDIT: @janellemilanes / Twitter
Milanes does an incredible job of describing the rift of self between an online sense of self–confident, brave, and adventurous–and the reality of living with social anxiety out in the real world. The story of Analee Echevarria is something that every person immersed in technology can relate with.
“The Scandal of the Century: and Other Writings” by Gabriel García Márquez
CREDIT: @timhoiland / Twitter
While Márquez is best known for “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” he is famous for saying that he wants to be remembered for his journalism. This is the first ever complete anthology of Márquez’s journalism.
“Things We Lost in the Fire” by Mariana Enriquez
CREDIT: @annabookdesign / Twitter
Argentine Mariana Enriquez is the only person who could describe the grim realities of contemporary Argentina. This isn’t a feel-good read. Enriquez speaks truth to paper, entrenching her readers in the stark inequalities, the pervasive fear in a military dictatorship and how you go on living life.
“The Spirit of Science Fiction” by Roberto Bolaño
CREDIT: @penguinpress / Twitter
Set in Mexico City, this book has found a home with Spanish-language world. This will be the first time it meets the English speaking world thanks to a translation by Natasha Wimmer.
“With the Fire on High” by Elizabeth Acevedo
CREDIT: @acevedowrites / Instagram
Caption: “This is the story of Emoni Santiago, a teen mom who wants to be a chef but isn’t sure if following that dream is best for her family. This character arrived to me fully formed and whispering in my ear and on May 7th she will be in the world.”
“Superman: Dawnbreaker” by Matt de la Peña
CREDIT: @alexperc92 / Twitter
De La Peña is a New York Times bestselling author and Newbery award winner. Thanks to his pen, we now have the Superman edition of the DC Icons series.
“Dealing in Dreams” by Lilliam Rivera
CREDIT: @kima_jones / Twitter
Rivera’s debut novel, “The Education of Margot Sanchez,” would be hard to beat… until you meet Nalah. After she builds her own girl gang, she wants more and must cross borders to make all her dreams come true.
“Don’t Date Rosa Santos” by Nina Moreno
CREDIT: @christineexists / Instagram
Call this the Cuban Rom-Com you needed on paper. Nina Moreno is giving us the novela level of drama and love curses that Latinas can relate to.
“In the Dead of Night” by Linda Castillo
CREDIT: “In the Dead of Night” Digital Image. Barnes and Noble. 24 April 2019.
Bestselling New York Times author Linda Castillo is rereleasing an old murder mystery classic. Sara Douglas can’t seem to shake the nightmares from her parents’ murder and partners with the chief of police to get to the bottom of it.
“The Moscow Rules” by Antonio & Jonna Mendez
CREDIT: “The Moscow Rules: The Secret CIA Tactics That Helped America Win the Cold War” Digital Image. Barnes and Noble. 24 April 2019.
The power couple that gave us Argo is now sharing their own personal accounts of working as CIA operative in Moscow during the Cold War. We’re just waiting for the film adaptation.
“The Daughter’s Tale” by Armando Lucas Correa
CREDIT: @amycnickless / Twitter
In a similar vein, “The Daughter’s Tale” tells the story of two French sisters who must escape occupied France during World War II and flee to Cuba. Correa has received many awards from the National Association of Hispanic Publications and the Society of Professional Journalism.
“The Other Woman” by Daniel Silva
CREDIT: “The Other Woman (Gabriel Allon Series #18)” Digital Image. Barnes and Noble. 24 April 2019.
Daniel Silva places us in the south of Spain, circa the end of WWII, with an international mystery to unravel. Spies from both Russia, Israel and the U.S. all come together for a suspenseful plot twist on the Potomac River outside Washington state.
“The Wind That Lays Waste” by Selva Almada
CREDIT: @kglyder / Twitter
Selva Almada takes us to the Argentinian countryside to meet a father-daughter missionary duo traveling Argentina right before their car breaks down. As they spend the day with two strangers, Almada gives us the nuanced tensions and intimacies that evolve between four stranded people throughout the day.
“Lima :: Limón” by Natalie Scenters-Zapico
CREDIT: @Poetry_Daily / Twitter
Scenters-Zapico bears it all in this collection of stories that depict life between borders. We meet Mexican women living in the U.S. and Mexican women living in Mexico. We become intimate with the realities of domestic violence and machísmo; of the double standard in pain tolerance women are expected to bare. Her stories are urgent, grounding and chilling.
“Sabrina and Corina” by Kali Fajardo-Anstine
CREDIT: @mariposachula8 / Twitter
Fajardo-Anstine’s experience as an Indigenous Latina raised in white-washed Denver, Colorado is giving us the short stories we need. You’ll have to read “Sabrina and Corina” to find out their stories.
“Tell Me How It Ends” by Valeria Luiselli
CREDIT: @litinquiry / Twitter
Luiselli has expanded on her 2016 edition of “Tell Me How It Ends” because the obstacles facing undocumented Latino youth in America have significantly expanded. Luiselli humanizes these young people and the choice between violence charged with racism in America and gang violence back home.
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
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.