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.
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