Young Adult Novels to Read this Hispanic Heritage Month

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month! Even though the month is over, there are still so many ways to celebrate the variety of Hispanic cultures in the world. Along with all the foods, festivals, movies and music that encapsulate Hispanic culture, books are another great way to celebrate Hispanic stories. 

Hispanic authors have many stories and perspectives to share that give insight to the beautiful cultures and the many issues that Hispanic people still grapple with. The best part is that there are way more books based on Hispanic characters than in previous years, so what better way to celebrate the month than to read a book about it?

1. Fat Chance Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado

According to the GoodReads synopsis, Fat Chance Charlie Vega is the coming of age story of “a fat, brown girl in a white Connecticut suburb.” Charlie is a high school student who tries to improve her relationships with her body, mother and the loss of her father. Throughout the book, Charlie learns to love herself, her parents, her body and her Puerto Rican culture. 

2. Love in English by Maria E Andreu

Love in English is a story loosely based on the author’s life wherein a 16-year-old girl named Ana moves with her mom to the United States from Argentina. Her father has been living in the States for the past two years and is helping Ana and her mom adapt to their new lifestyle, but Ana has a very hard time adjusting. She struggles to understand the English language, American culture and the kids around her.She also has to navigate the fragile balance between her Argentenian and American identities. As she makes friends at her school, Ana discovers herselfand finds community in the people that she connects with. 

3. Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

Esperanza Rising is loosely based on the life of the author’s grandmother. The story depicts the life of Esperanza, a 13-year-old girl from Aguascalientes, Mexico, who grew up on her family’s successful ranch. When her father passes away and her uncle threatens to take everything her family has, she and her mom escape to California during the Great Depression and settle in a camp for Mexican farm workers. Esperanza’s life turns upside down and she learns just what it takes to work hard, keep her family close and rise above her difficult circumstances.

4. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter is about Julia, a girl who grew up in a Mexican-American home in Chicago who grieves the loss of her older sister, Olga. Olga was the perfect Mexican-American daughter, at least more than Julia, or so Julia thought. After Olga passes in a tragic accident, Julia tries to learn more about her sister’s life and if either of them were able to live to the impossible standard of being the perfect daughter.

5. Clap When you Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Clap When You Land, tells the story of two sisters, one in New York and the other in the Dominican Republic, who learn the other exists only after the passing of their father. Despite being separated by distance, the two girls’ lives change forever when the loss of their father leads them to one other.

6. Sanctuary by Abby Sher and Paola Mendoza

This dystopian-like novel tells the tale of Vali, a 16-year-old undocumented girl living in the United States in 2032. In this futuristic version of the U.S., citizens are chipped and tracked. Vali and her family have counterfeit chips that one day malfunction and the family is confronted by Deportation Forces, causing them to flee to a sanctuary state. Along the journey, Vali’s mother is detained and Vali is faced with carrying her brother across the country to safety.

7. Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

Juliet is a girl from the Bronx who just came out to her parents who didn’t take the news so lightly. When Juliet lands her dream internship working for the author of her favorite book in Portland, Oregon, she takes a chance and makes the journey. Over the summer and the course of the internship, Juliet learns how to navigate her identity as a Puerto Rican lesbian. 

Celebrating Hispanic stories is one of the best ways to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month! There are a plethora of stories out there celebrating our diverse cultures and rich stories. Whether you read them on the pages of a book or see them on the screen of your favorite streaming platform, they are a window into the beauty of the Hispanic experience. Even as Hispanic Heritage Month winds to a close, it’s always a great time to celebrate Hispanic stories.

Featured image by Rebecca Hernandez