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Diverse YA Books @ SCF Libraries: Latinx Lit for YA

Recommended books for young adults (13+ years old)

Recommended Young Adult Titles* by/about Latinx

Latinx YA

The Poet X

Astonishing novel-in-verse by an award-winning slam poet, about an Afro-Latina heroine who tells her story with blazing words and powerful truth. Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking. But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages.

We Are Not from Here

A poignant novel of desperation, escape, and survival across the U.S.-Mexico border, inspired by current events. Pulga has his dreams. Chico has his grief. Pequeña has her pride. And these three teens have one another. But none of them have illusions about the town they've grown up in and the dangers that surround them. Even with the love of family, threats lurk around every corner. And when those threats become all too real, the trio knows they have no choice but to run: from their country, from their families, from their beloved home. 

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship--the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be. *Sequel: Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World.

How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe

When her twin sister reaches social media stardom, Moon Fuentez accepts her fate as the ugly, unwanted sister hidden in the background, destined to be nothing more than her sister's camerawoman. But this summer, Moon also takes a job as the "merch girl" on a tour bus full of beautiful influencers and her fate begins to shift in the best way possible. Most notable is her bunkmate and new nemesis, Santiago Phillips, who is grumpy, combative, and also the hottest guy Moon has ever seen.

An Island Like You

Twelve stories about young people caught between their Puerto Rican heritage and their American surroundings.

Clap When You Land

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people... In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal's office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash. Separated by distance--and Papi's secrets--the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered. And then, when it seems like they've lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.

Furia

In Rosario, Argentina, Camila Hassan lives a double life.    At home, she is a careful daughter, living within her mother's narrow expectations, in her rising-soccer-star brother's shadow, and under the abusive rule of her short-tempered father.    On the field, she is La Furia, a powerhouse of skill and talent.

Don't Ask Me Where I'm From

First-generation American LatinX Liliana Cruz does what it takes to fit in at her new nearly all-white school. But when family secrets spill out and racism at school ramps up, she must decide what she believes in and take a stand.

Cemetery Boys

Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can't get rid of him. When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his true gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents' house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family.   But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga's role.  

Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun

Julián Luna has a plan for his life: Graduate. Get into UCLA. And have the chance to move away from Corpus Christi, Texas, and the suffocating expectations of others that have forced Jules into an inauthentic life. Then in one reckless moment, with one impulsive tweet, his plans for a low-key nine months are thrown--literally--out the closet. The downside: the whole world knows, and Jules has to prepare for rejection. The upside: Jules now has the opportunity to be his real self.

In the Time of the Butterflies

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.

Enchanted Air

In this poetic memoir, Margarita Engle, the first Latina woman to receive a Newbery Honor, tells of growing up as a child of two cultures during the Cold War. Margarita is a girl from two worlds. Her heart lies in Cuba, but most of the time she lives in Los Angeles. When the hostility between Cuba and the United States erupts at the Bay of Pigs Invasion, Margarita's worlds collide in the worst way possible. How can the two countries she loves hate each other so much? 

The House on Mango Street

The House on Mango Street is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero, a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Told in a series of vignettes-sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous-Sandra Cisneros' masterpiece is a classic story of childhood and self-discovery.

Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet

Penelope Prado has always dreamed of opening her own pastelería next to her father's restaurant, Nacho's Tacos. But her mom and dad have different plans--leaving Pen to choose between not disappointing her traditional Mexican American parents or following her own path. When she confesses a secret she's been keeping, her world is sent into a tailspin.

When We Make It

An unforgettable, torrential, and hopeful debut young adult novel-in-verse that redefines what it means to "make it," for readers of Nicholasa Mohr and Elizabeth Acevedo. Sarai is a first-generation Puerto Rican eighth grader who can see with clarity the truth, pain, and beauty of the world both inside and outside her Bushwick apartment. Together with her older sister Estrella, she navigates the strain of family traumas and the systemic pressures of toxic masculinity and housing insecurity in a rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn. Sarai questions the society around her, her Boricua identity, and the life she lives with determination and an open heart, learning to celebrate herself in a way that she has been denied.

Never Look Back

Eury comes to the Bronx as a girl haunted. Haunted by losing everything in Hurricane Maria--and by an evil spirit, Ato. She fully expects the tragedy that befell her and her family in Puerto Rico to catch up with her in New York. Yet, for a time, she can almost set this fear aside, because there's this boy . . . Pheus is a golden-voiced, bachata-singing charmer, ready to spend the summer on the beach with his friends, serenading his on-again, off-again flame. That changes when he meets Eury. All he wants is to put a smile on her face and fight off her demons. But some dangers are too powerful for even the strongest love, and as the world threatens to tear them apart, Eury and Pheus must fight for each other and their lives.

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass

In Meg Medina's compelling new novel, a Latina teen is targeted by a bully at her new school -- and must discover resources she never knew she had. Is there any way for Piddy to survive without closing herself off or running away? In an all-too-realistic novel, Meg Medina portrays a sympathetic heroine who is forced to decide who she really is.

Under the Mesquite

As the oldest of eight siblings, Lupita is used to taking the lead and staying busy behind the scenes to help keep everyone together. But when she discovers Mami has been diagnosed with cancer, Lupita is terrified by the possibility of losing her mother, the anchor of her close-knit Mexican American family. Suddenly Lupita must face a whole new set of challenges, with new roles to play, and no one is handing her the script.

I Lived on Butterfly Hill

Celeste Marconi is a dreamer. She lives peacefully among friends and neighbors and family in the idyllic town of Valparaiso, Chile-until one day when warships are spotted in the harbor and schoolmates start disappearing from class without a word. Celeste doesn't quite know what is happening, but one thing is clear: no one is safe, not anymore. The country has been taken over by a government that declares artists, protestors, and anyone who helps the needy to be considered "subversive" and dangerous to Chile's future. So Celeste's parents-her educated, generous, kind parents-must go into hiding before they, too, "disappear." Before they do, however, they send Celeste to America to protect her. 

Before We Were Free

Anita de la Torre never questioned her freedom living in the Dominican Republic. But by her 12th birthday in 1960, most of her relatives have emigrated to the United States, her Tío Toni has disappeared without a trace, and the government’s secret police terrorize her remaining family because of their suspected opposition of el Trujillo’s dictatorship. Using the strength and courage of her family, Anita must overcome her fears and fly to freedom, leaving all that she once knew behind. From renowned author Julia Alvarez comes an unforgettable story about adolescence, perseverance, and one girl’s struggle to be free.

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life

Sal used to know his place with his adoptive gay father, their loving Mexican American family, and his best friend, Samantha. But it's senior year, and suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and realizing he no longer knows himself. If Sal's not who he thought he was, who is he?

The Surrender Tree

It is 1896. Cuba has fought three wars for independence and still is not free. People have been rounded up in reconcentration camps with too little food and too much illness. Rosa is a nurse, but she dares not go to the camps. So she turns hidden caves into hospitals for those who know how to find her. Black, white, Cuban, Spanish—Rosa does her best for everyone. Yet who can heal a country so torn apart by war? 

With the Fire on High

A dazzling novel in prose about a girl with talent, pride, and a drive to feed the soul that keeps her fire burning bright. Ever since she got pregnant freshman year, Emoni Santiago's life has been about making the tough decisions--doing what has to be done for her daughter and her abuela. The one place she can let all that go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Even though she dreams of working as a chef after she graduates, Emoni knows that it's not worth her time to pursue the impossible. 

Bless Me, Ultima

Antonio Marez is six years old when Ultima comes to stay with his family in New Mexico. She is a curandera, one who cures with herbs and magic. Under her wise wing, Tony will probe the family ties that bind and rend him, and he will discover himself in the magical secrets of the pagan past--a mythic legacy as palpable as the Catholicism of Latin America. And at each life turn there is Ultima, who delivered Tony into the world... and will nurture the birth of his soul.

The Education of Margot Sanchez

Things/People Margot Hates: Mami, for destroying her social life Papi, for allowing Junior to become a Neanderthal Junior, for becoming a Neanderthal The supermarket Everyone else After "borrowing" her father's credit card to finance a more stylish wardrobe, Margot Sanchez suddenly finds herself grounded. And by grounded, she means working as an indentured servant in her family's struggling grocery store to pay off her debts.

Burn Baby Burn

Nora Lopez is seventeen during the infamous New York summer of 1977, when the city is besieged by arson, a massive blackout, and a serial killer named Son of Sam who shoots young women on the streets. Nora's family life isn't going so well either: her bullying brother, Hector, is growing more threatening by the day, her mother is helpless and falling behind on the rent, and her father calls only on holidays. All Nora wants is to turn eighteen and be on her own.

Shame the Stars

In the midst of racial conflict and at the edges of a war at the Texas--Mexico border in 1915, Joaqu�n and Dulce�a attempt to maintain a secret romance in this reimagining of Romeo and Juliet.

Shadowshaper

When the murals painted on the walls of her Brooklyn neighborhood start to change and fade in front of her, Sierra Santiago realizes that something strange is going on--then she discovers her Puerto Rican family are shadowshapers and finds herself in a battle with an evil anthropologist for the lives of her family and friends.

The Tequila Worm

Sofia comes from a family of storytellers. Here are her tales of growing up in the barrio, full of the magic and mystery of family traditions: making Easter cascarones, celebrating el Dia de los Muertos, preparing for quinceañera, rejoicing in the Christmas nacimiento, and curing homesickness by eating the tequila worm. When Sofia is singled out to receive a scholarship to an elite boarding school, she longs to explore life beyond the barrio, even though it means leaving her family to navigate a strange world of rich, privileged kids.

Wild Tongues Can't Be Tamed

Wild Tongues Can't Be Tamed is a ground-breaking anthology that will spark dialogue and inspire hope.In Wild Tongues Can't Be Tamed, bestselling and award-winning authors as well as up-and-coming voices interrogate the different myths and stereotypes about the Latinx diaspora. These fifteen original pieces delve into everything from ghost stories and superheroes, to memories in the kitchen and travels around the world, to addiction and grief, to identity and anti-Blackness, to finding love and speaking your truth.

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega

Coming of age as a Fat brown girl in a white Connecticut suburb is hard. Harder when your whole life is on fire, though. Charlie Vega is a lot of things. Smart. Funny. Artistic. Ambitious. Fat. People sometimes have a problem with that last one. Especially her mom. Charlie wants a good relationship with her body, but it's hard, and her mom leaving a billion weight loss shakes on her dresser doesn't help.

Living Beyond Borders

Twenty stand-alone short stories, essays, poems, and more from celebrated and award-winning authors make up this YA anthology that explores the Mexican American experience. With works by Francisco X. Stork, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, David Bowles, Ruben Degollado, e.E. Charlton-Trujillo, Diana L pez, Xavier Garza, and more. In this mixed-media collection of short stories, personal essays, poetry, and comics, this celebrated group of authors share the borders they have crossed, the struggles they have pushed through, and the two cultures they continue to navigate as Mexican Americans.

Where I Belong

An immigrant teen fights for her family, her future, and the place she calls home. In the spring of 2018, Guatemalan American high school senior Milagros "Millie" Vargas knows her life is about to change. She has lived in Corpus Christi, Texas, ever since her parents sought asylum there when she was a baby. Now a citizen, Millie devotes herself to school and caring for her younger siblings while her mom works as a housekeeper for the wealthy Wheeler family. With college on the horizon, Millie is torn between attending her dream school and staying close to home, where she knows she's needed.

Disclaimer

*What does "recommended" mean?

To be included in this page, books have been read and selected by SCF professional librarians, who recommends them for quality, originality, and portrayal of the culture represented.

*What does YA mean?

Books in this guide are intended mainly for teenagers: 13-19 years old. Of course, people of all ages might enjoy them, but the maturity level and themes addressed in these books have special appeal for that age group. 

*Disclaimer:

The books on this list are recommended by librarians and have received major awards or accolades. SCF Collegiate School students in grades 6-10 check out books under the supervision of the CS teachers. SCF Collegiate School students taking college-level classes have free access to these resources.