September is Hispanic Heritage Month!
During this time (September 15 to October 15) we recognize the contributions made and the important presence of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States and celebrate their heritage and culture.
Hispanic Heritage Month roots go back to 1968 and begins each year on September 15, the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico, Chile and Belize also celebrate their independence days during this period.
To celebrate, I’m posting a list of books about Hispanic or Latino individuals or by Hispanic or Latino authors (sometimes both!) The list hopefully has a little something for everyone including fantasy, realistic fiction, humor, and even a memoir.
Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina
One morning before school, some girl tells Piddy Sanchez that Yaqui Delgado hates her and wants to kick her ass. Piddy doesn’t even know who Yaqui is, never mind what she’s done to piss her off. Word is that Yaqui thinks Piddy is stuck-up and isn’t Latin enough with her white skin, good grades, and no accent. Is there any way for Piddy to survive without closing herself off or running away? With issues of ethnic identity, class conflict, body image, and domestic violence, this could have been an overstuffed problem novel; instead, it transcends with heartfelt, truthful writing that treats the complicated roots of bullying with respect.
More Happy than Not by Adam Silvera
In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for sixteen-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again—but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is. Adam Silvera explores the inner workings of a painful world and he delivers this with heartfelt honesty and a courageous, confident hand . . . A mesmerizing, unforgettable tour de force.
Sweet 15 by Emily Adler and Alex Echevarria
Destiny Lozada is turning fifteen, and her parents want to throw her a traditional quinceanera, celebrating her transition into “womanhood” with a religious ceremony, a big expensive party, a silly dress and tiara, the works. Destiny’s older sister calls it an antiquated, misogynistic ritual that just gives their mother a chance to show off. As usual, Destiny is caught in the middle and afraid to say anything. She’s not a princesa like her mother imagines or an activist like her sister. So who is she? When the plans, bills, and fights start piling up, Destiny has to stop being a spectator to “The Lozada Show” and take a stand once and for all in her family and her life.
In the Time of Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
It is November 25, 1960, and three beautiful sisters have been found near their wrecked Jeep at the bottom of a 150-foot cliff on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. The official state newspaper reports their deaths as accidental. It does not mention that a fourth sister lives. Nor does it explain that the sisters were among the leading opponents of Gen. Rafael Leonidas Trujillo’s dictatorship. It doesn’t have to. Everybody knows of Las Mariposas―“The Butterflies.” In this extraordinary novel, the voices of all four sisters speak across the decades to tell their own stories, from hair ribbons and secret crushes to gunrunning and prison torture, and to describe the everyday horrors of life under Trujillo’s rule. Through the art and magic of Julia Alvarez’s imagination, the martyred Butterflies live again in this novel of courage and love, and the human cost of political oppression.
The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey
Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from all but one human: Echo, a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market. The Avicen are the only family Echo has ever known, so when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it’s time to act. Legend has it that to end the conflict once and for all, Echo must find the firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, though if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it’s how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it. It’s been called “inventive, gorgeous, and epic”.
“When I Was Puerto Rican: A Memoir” by Esmeralda Santiago
Esmeralda Santiago’s story begins in rural Puerto Rico, where her childhood was full of both tenderness and domestic strife, tropical sounds and sights as well as poverty. Growing up, she learned the proper way to eat a guava, the sound of tree frogs in the mango groves at night, the taste of the delectable sausage called morcilla, and the formula for ushering a dead baby’s soul to heaven. As she enters school we see the clash, both hilarious and fierce, of Puerto Rican and Yankee culture. When her mother, Mami, a force of nature, takes off to New York with her seven, soon to be eleven children, Esmeralda, the oldest, must learn new rules, a new language, and eventually take on a new identity. In this first volume of her much-praised, bestselling trilogy, Santiago brilliantly recreates the idyllic landscape and tumultuous family life of her earliest years and her tremendous journey from the barrio to Brooklyn, from translating for her mother at the welfare office to high honors at Harvard.