By Rendz Martinez
Not long ago, maybe three or five years ago, you could have googled “books with Latinx characters” or “Latinx YA” and would’ve gotten a few results. A few. I’m being generous here. But I will be honest, a lot of them would have been written by non-Latinx authors or would have been Adult books mislabeled as YA. Not today though. The push for diversity in YA literature and the surge in #ownvoices stories have created this pot of gold with new, fresh, and authentic Latinx YA. Of course, there is always room for more, and as readers, we need to do our part to support these diverse stories by reading, and buying or borrowing them!
We Set the Dark on Fire by Taylor Kay Mejia
Medio School for Girls prepares students for one of two possible futures, both of them a life of subjection under their husband. Dani is at the top of her class, but has lied and kept secrets to get there, and things get twisted right after graduation. This is a fiery book about girls taking on the patriarchy, fighting for equality, and even finding themselves falling in a forbidden romance.
Barely Missing Everything by Matt Mendez
Three voices. Three plans. A possible life-changing meeting. None of which go accordingly. This book explores teenage growing pains alongside the injustices brown kids face. I’m pretty sure I’m going to sob when I read it, so I figured I would give you a fair warning as well. I mean the blurb does say this is a “heartbreaking, no-holds-barred debut novel.” Grab that Kleenex.
Dealing in Dreams by Lilliam Rivera
A dystopian novel about girl gangs running the streets of Mega City. Nalah and her crew are given a life-altering mission that could get them into a better home. But this mission demands a lot from Nalah and, by the time it’s over, she might not be the same person. I adored Rivera’s contemporary debut, The Education of Margot Sanchez, so I am excited to see what she does with sci-fi.
Brief Chronicle of Another Stupid Heartbreak by Adi Alsaid
Everyone needs a good summer romance. You just do. Don’t question it. Although this one might not be your conventional romance, as our main character Lu is much more interested in following a couple who plans to break up. The novel tackles the essential element of romance: what it means to be in love and what happens to love after the end of a relationship.
Nocturna by Maya Motayne
A Dominican-inspired fantasy about a faceless thief and a prince without a future. Chock-full with high-stakes adventures, dark magic, fast-paced action, and characters who will capture your heart completely! I read this and absolutely adored it. Highly recommend!
Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno
Cubans, curses, cultural pressures, and college. Four things that will make a fine read. Rosa is cursed by the sea, but that takes a back seat when her life decisions start to creep up not so subtly on her and she finds herself caught between her choices. I think this book will give you those perfect summer vibes, so be sure to give it a read!
With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
A delicious read this will be no doubt. High school senior Emoni Santiago has a lot on her plate: a daughter, an abuela, cooking class, and the future. Lots of tough decisions have to be made, none of which can be handled on an empty stomach, so she gets cooking. This novel explores the highs and lows of pursuing one’s dream and the talent of one girl in a kitchen.
The Grief Keeper by Alexandra Villasante
Marisol’s life is turned completely upside down when her brother is murdered, and she and her sister flee their home in El Salvador in hopes of reaching the American border. It gets even harder when the only opportunity she has to stay is on the condition she becomes a grief keeper. This is a story that I am sure will touch the hearts of many who have known the trials of immigration and LGTBQ+ folk in Latin America. You might want to pull out those tissues again.
All of Us with Wings by Michelle Ruiz Keil
Xochi finds an escape from her past by becoming a live-in governess to twelve-year-old Pallas. When the two tamper with magic and summon ancient living creatures, their world is suddenly in a lot more danger. I have a feeling this book is going to rock some readers’ worlds. It is magical realism that hits hard, and I think many contemporary and fantasy readers alike will have something to look forward to!
(Cover picture @mybookvision)
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