Latino Literature for Young Adults
A printable pdf of this booklist is available here (6/2011)
Bold Italic indicates titles with bilingual content or available in Spanish-language format.
- Estrella’s Quinceañera, by Malin Alegria. Estrella’s mom is planning her quinceañera, and her friends at private school are focused on other things. Can she find a balance? For another quince tale, try Nancy Osa’s Cuba 15; for true stories about this tradition, try Once Upon a Quinceañera: Coming of Age in the U.S.A by Julia Alvarez.
- City of the Beasts, by Isabel Allende. Fifteen-year-old Alexander joins his grandmother on a mission to the Amazon to hunt for an ancient beast. He becomes involved in a struggle for survival with the Indians.
- A Movie in My Pillow/Una Película en Mi Almohada by Jorge Argueta. Poems recounting the childhood experiences of the author, after his family left El Salvador and came to live in San Francisco in the 1980s.
- Home is Everything: the Latino Baseball Story, by Marcos Bretón. Great photos and parallel Spanish and English text tell the story of Latin American baseball players in the Major Leagues, including Roberto Clemente, Orlando Cepeda, and Jose Santana.
- Colibri, by Ann Cameron. A twelve-year-old Mayan girl in Guatemala is kidnapped, forced to beg, and live a rough life, and she must find a way to break free and create a life for herself. For another account of a Mayan girl in present-day Guatemala, try Ben Mikaelsen’s Tree Girl, based on a true story.
- The Tequila Worm, by Viola Canales. Sofia grows up in a close-knit Mexican-American community in the barrio in McAllen, Texas, but is forced to question her ties to that world as a scholarship student at a private boarding school in Austin.
- Red Hot Salsa: Bilingual Poems on Being Young and Latino in the United States, edited by Lori Marie Carlson. This collection of bilingual, bicultural poems touches on topics such as language, identity, neighborhoods, love, and family. For more, try Cool Salsa: Bilingual Poems on Growing Up Latino in the United States.
- Prizefighter en Mi Casa, by E. E. Charlton-Trujillo. Twelve-year-old Chula was in a car accident and has developed epilepsy. She must deal with her new condition, with help from a Mexican boxer.
- Call Me María, by Judith Ortiz Cofer. Fifteen-year-old Maria leaves Puerto Rico to live with her father in the barrio of New York City.
- The Poet Slave of Cuba, by Margarita Engle. A free verse account of the boyhood of a 19th-century Cuban slave who secretly learned to read and write.
- La Linea, by Ann Jaramillo. Miguel must leave his Mexican village, cross the border illegally, and join his parents in California, but what about his little sister?
- The Color of my Words, by Lynn Joseph. 12-year-old Ana Rosa’s brother is endangered when he organizes resistance to the government, in order to save their Dominican village.
- Call Me Henri, by Lorraine M. Lopez. Enrique’s school wants to force him to take ESL, but he has different goals. He wants to take French, and escape the violent life of the barrio.
- Heat, by Mike Lupica. Michael Arroyo can pitch like anything. But before he can take his Little League team to the championships, he must prove he can play, and hide a secret from social services.
- Red Glass, by Laura Resau. 16-year-old Sophie’s family adopts a 6-year-old boy from Mexico, and they travel to meet with his family.
- Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood, by Benjamin Alire Saenz. Sammy lives in Hollywood, New Mexico in 1969, and has to deal with barrio violence and racism.
- Wachale! Poetry and Prose on Growing up Latino in America, edited by Ilan Stavans. A collection of poems and stories in English and Spanish, celebrating Latino diversity. Also try the collections Riding Low on the Streets of Gold, edited by Judith Ortiz Cofer or Crazy Loco, by David Rice.
- Cubanita, by Gabby Triana. 17-year-old Isabel, eager to leave Miami to attend the University of Michigan and escape her overprotective Cuban mother, learns some truths about her family’s past and makes important decisions about the type of person she wants to be.
Also, look for books by these authors: