There’s just something about getting lost in the characters and other worlds that makes Young Adult (YA) fiction so addictive. But did you know there are tons of amazing YA books written by Latinos?!
Here are seven YA authors you need to read by the time you’re 30.
CREDIT: Malin Alegria / Facebook
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 book Estrella’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.
CREDIT: Epic Reads / YouTube
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 Boys is 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.
Are you a fan of young adult books? Mitú wants to know! Leave a comment.