Reading is one of the best ways to
dive into a culture or region of the world that might otherwise be unfamiliar to
you — and in that regard, these 13 Latino YA authors definitely won’t let you
You might remember (or maybe you
don’t, because so much has happened since
then) almost a year ago when president-elect Donald Trump went head-to-head with Spanish-language
broadcaster Jorge Ramos, because Trump wouldn’t stop referring to all individuals
of Latin American origin as “the Mexicans” (a historically, culturally,
geographically, and linguistically inaccurate categorization for everyone who
lives south of the United States, BTW, unless they’re actually from Mexico.) Naturally, the debate over the correct use
of “Latino” verses “Hispanic” (and, if you’re Jefe Trump, “Mexican”) expanded
to the wildfire that is social media, only confusing the issue further. If you’re
still confused — and who could blame you? — and want to be sure you’re totally
caught up before diving into these books by authors of Latin American origin,
then check out this article on the linguistic question of how to refer to
people from Latin America. When you're done, pick up some of the YA novels by Latino authors
on this list. They’re worth their shelf space, I promise.
The first title of Malín Alegría’s
Border Town series introduces readers to sisters Fabiola and Alexis Garza,
teens living in the Texas border town Dos Rios. But geographical boundaries
aren’t the only borders Fabiola and Alexis have to grapple with, and all the
regular pressures of high school — parents, boys, BFFs, bullies — are informed
by the town’s tense relationships between the Texans and Mexicans, legal immigrants and
Merging several genres into this
lyrical book for young readers, Margarita Engle uses poetry, historical
fiction, and nonfiction to tell the story of Cuban feminist and abolitionist Gertrudis
Gómez de Avellaneda, one of nineteenth century Cuba’s youngest opponents to
slavery. After refusing an arranged marriage at only 14 years old, Gómez de
Avellaneda then used her newfound freedom to write poetry that stood up against Cuba’s injustices.
Winner of a 2011 International
Latino Book Award for Best Young Adult Novel, Caridad Ferrer’s When the Stars Go Bluetells the story
of recent high school graduate Soledad Reyes, an aspiring professional dancer
who is offered the opportunity to perform in Carmen in a summer drum and bugle performance corps. Throw in a
love triangle that not only challenges Soledad’s friendship with a boy named
Jonathan, but that threatens the future of her dancing career as well, and
you’ve got the makings of one irresistible YA novel.
Compared to The Sisterhood of
the Traveling Pants (so you know
you’re gonna love it) Cristina García’s Dreams of Significant Girls
introduces readers to three Swiss summer boarding school roommates — Shirin,
Ingrid, and Vivien — who come from vastly different countries and cultures, but
return to one another each summer to form a world all their
own. Taking place between 1971 and 1973, and told through alternating
perspectives, Dreams of Significant Girls follows these narrators
through family dramas and the complicated questions of emerging womanhood, as
Shirin, Ingrid, and Vivien forge a friendship that helps each grow into the
woman she's destined to be.
Transporting readers directly into
the setting that Picasso captured unforgettably across 25 feet of canvas, Christina Diaz Gonzalez’s A Thunderous Whispertakes place during
the Spanish Civil War, zeroing in on the life of a girl named Ani whose father is away
fighting in the war, and whose mother makes her feel inconsequential and small. But when a
boy named Mathias moves to Guernica under dangerous circumstances, he
enlists Ani to help him in his covert endeavors. Then the city of Guernica is completely destroyed in a bombing, and Ani realizes just how powerful she really can be.
The first in series of YA fantasy
novels, The Girl at Midnight introduces
readers to an underground race of magical humans called the Avicen, enchanted
to remain invisible to all other humans — all except a girl named Echo, who has
lived among the Avicen for as long as she can remember. But when a battle
breaks about between the Avicen and another magical species, Echo finds herself
in a West Side Story-style romance with a boy from the other side.
Another magically-inspired tale of
star-crossed lovers, The Weight of
Feathers follows the stories of two families of traveling performers — the Palomas
and the Corbeaus — who have been professional rivals for generations, as well as personal enemies, since an
event two decades prior resulted in the deaths of a member from each family. Introduce
Lace Paloma and Cluck Corbeau, the youngest generation of the feuding families,
who spark an attraction in one another, before finding out they’re
members of the rival tribes. Will young love conquer all; or will the Palomas
and the Corbeaus have a Romeo and Juliet
situation on their hands? You’ll just have to read to find out.
The title of this novel alone
should be enough to make you want to check it out, IMO. Who is Yaqui Delgado?
Do we love her or hate her? Whose rear does she want to kick, exactly, and why? In
order to find out, you’ll have to dive into the world of Piddy
Sanchez — a high school honors student more interested in finding out the identity of
the father she’s never met than she is in dealing with the bullying
problem at her high school. But all that’s about to change, if the imfamous Yaqui Delgado
gets her way…
When Kidd’s father's abuse and
mother’s suicide land him in a therapeutic group home for teens, all he seems
to want is love and family — and to push away the darker side of his own thoughts
and feelings. When he meets Olivia during his summer job at
the beach, she seems like she might be exactly what he’s looking for. But first
Kidd needs to learn to make the right decisions, make peace with his past, and
let go of the negative influences that threaten to ruin his life.
Growing up on her family’s ranch in
Mexico, Esperanza Ortega had everything she could ever want — beautiful clothes,
servants, a home fit for a princess. But when her father dies Esperanza and her mother lose everything,
and are forced to immigrate to the United States to rebuild
their lives. They arrive to an America in the middle of the Great Depression, and begin
working in a camp for Mexican farm laborers — an environment nothing like the
one Esperanza grew up in. But through it all Esperanza adapts, overcomes, and
At first it seems like Mexican-American
teenage boys Aristotle and Dante have absolutely nothing in common — one has a
father dealing with PTSD and brother in prison, while the other seems confident and comfortable
in his own skin. But when Dante offers to teach Aristotle how to swim, what
emerges is a coming-of-age friendship unlike any either of these boys have
experienced before — one that challenges the boundaries of love, and has the
power to change the people they thought they were.
In addition to dealing with OCD,
Griffin has just lost his first love — a boy named Theo, who was killed in a
drowning accident. Overcome by grief, he reaches out to Theo’s ex-boyfriend, Jackson. But through their evolving friendship, bonded by loss,
Griffin begins to suspect that Jackson has secrets he's keeping from Theo, and Theo definitely has some secrets of his own.
Like all great love stories, Marisa
and Rene meet-cute when Marisa accidentally picks up Rene’s phone instead of her
own, and has to return it. It’s love at first sight — or so it surprisingly seems to Marisa.
But while Rene is, shall we say, a bit of a nerd, Marisa is assertive and
quick to anger, and the two don’t immediately appear to be a match made in YA
heaven. However, as their relationship grows, so do their own individual
personalities. Everyone loves a good first-love story, and Accidental Love is a sweet one.
Alex is a powerful bruja, but she doesn't want her magic. At her Deathday celebration, she attempts to refuse her magic — and in the process, she accidentally sends her entire family into another dimension, Los Lagos. Now, she's stuck in the land in-between with a mysterious teenage brujo, Nova, as a guide.