September 15 – October 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month which honors the history, culture, and contributions of Americans of Hispanic/Latino descent. As someone who works in a primarily Spanish-speaking community, this national observance is especially meaningful for myself, my colleagues, and the patrons we serve. Hispanic Heritage Month presents the opportunity to showcase literature in which many of our readers see their personal and unique experiences reflected, celebrated, and made visible to the world around them. Here are a few titles for you to enjoy that feature Hispanic/Latino characters and/or are written by Hispanic/Latino authors. ¡Viva!
I’ve been a fan of Ruiz Zafón since 2001, when he transfixed me with his stunning gothic novel for adults, Shadow of the Wind; naturally it’s been wonderful to see his young adult fiction (orig. published in Spanish) translated into English. The Prince of Mist (2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults) was lauded for its gorgeous attention to historical detail, haunting mood, and suspenseful twists. Ruiz ZafÃ³n’s Marina continues the same lush storytelling tradition. Fifteen-year old Oscar Drai’s adventure begins when he encounters the mysterious Marina while exploring an older part of Barcelona. They go to a cemetery where they witness a woman dressed in black placing a rose on an unmarked grave. Marina and Oscar choose to follow the woman, and are soon drawn into a world full of dark secrets involving a dead actress, a reclusive industrial tycoon, and creepy science experiments.
Gabi Hernandez’s life is in pieces. The teen’s mother constantly lectures her about sex and losing weight and her father is a meth addict. Things on the friendship front are tough, too – her best friend, Cindy is dealing with an unplanned pregnancy, and their other friend, Sebastian has been kicked out of his home after coming out as gay to his parents. Amidst all of these issues, Gabi is also trying to get through her senior year in high school – while she is acing poetry, she’s also struggling in Algebra II, which may jeopardize her dream of attending UC Berkeley. Written poignantly in diary format, Gabi is a remarkable story about a girl who is determined to beat the odds and make a better life for herself.
- Border Town series by Malin Alegria
- Secret Saturdays by Torrey Maldonado
- Jumped by Rita Williams-Garcia
- Illegal by Bettina Restrepo
- The Secret Story of Sonia Rodriguez by Alan Sitomer
- Dizzy in Your Eyes by Pat Mora
Forthcoming 2015 titles to keep on your radar:
- Encantrix by Zoraida Córdova
- When Reason Breaks by Cindy L. Rodriguez
- More Happy than Not by Adam Silvera
What are some of your favorite books featuring Hispanic/Latino characters? Please share in the comments.
-Lalitha Nataraj, currently reading The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters