Our Friend is Here! is a guest feature at The Quiet Pond, where authors, creatives, and fellow readers, are invited to ‘visit’ the Pond! In Our Friend is Here! guest posts, our visitors (as their very own unique character!) have a friendly conversation about anything related to books or being a reader — and become friends with Xiaolong and friends.
Our Friend is Here: Latinx Heritage Month Edition is a month-long event at The Quiet Pond, where between September 15th and October 15th, Latinx authors and bookish content creators are invited to celebrate being Latinx and Latinx books. Find the introduction post for Latinx Heritage Month at The Quiet Pond here.
Latinx Heritage Month came to an end yesterday – but it doesn’t mean that we should all stop reading Latine books! Though I made a dedicated effort to read as many Latine books as I could during Latinx Heritage Month – I managed to read eight! – I put together this book recommendation post as my last post of our Latinx Heritage Month at the Pond series to encourage myself – and all of us! – to continue reading Latine books every other month of the year.
But before I share the Latine books that I recommend, I want to share some of the other book recommendation posts made by others in the community, spotlighting Latine reads!
- Nini put together a fantastic list of Upcoming 2020 YA Latinx Books and Beyond list, where you can find Latine books coming out between now and August 2021!
- Marissa compiled a list of 30 Latinx Recs You Can Read Today – and I love the list that she has put together!
- Sofia has compiled an incredible and extensive list of Latine reads – and it is now at 270 book recommendations! Amazing!
So, without further ado, here are my Latine book recommendations that you can read every other month of the year! (I’ve also read all the books that I recommend today, so I can attest that they are fantastic.)
Ghost Squad by Claribel Otega
If you love the idea of ghosts, a fun and spooky book, and a big fat cat called Chunk, then you’ll love this adorable middle-grade book. Plus, it’s being made into a movie!
- Follows Lucely, a Dominican girl who, in trying to help her father, accidentally unleashes evil spirits. Together with her best friend, a chunky cat, and a witchy grandma, the group work together to right wrongs and save their town.
- This book is just so much fun, has plenty of spooky moments, but has so much heart written into the story.
- You’ll love this book for its powerful sisterly-like friendships, an emphasis on family, and a story that has so many meaningful and genuine relationships.
A Dash of Trouble by Anna Meriano
If you love the idea of a story that is filled with magic, the sweetness of family and growing up, and filled with cute surprises, then you’ll love A Dash of Trouble! (Make sure you check out this awesome interview where Anna Meriano interviewed the Pond friends!)
- Follows Leo, a young Mexican girl who discovers that her family are brujas! With her newfound powers, Leo tries her hand and magic at fixing things – only to create chaos that spirals out of control.
- This is just such a feel-good and sweet story. The story is filled with so many funny and earnest moments – and I absolutely adored Leo. She’s trying her best!
- The story is also full of heart, and is a love letter to the relationships we have with our sisters, our mothers, and our family.
Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez
I read this gem during Latinx Heritage Month and I really think that this is one of my favourite books of 2020. This book is outrageously funny, so witty, and one of the most fun reading experiences I’ve had in a long time.
- Follows Sal, a Cuban-American and diabetic boy, who magically places a dead chicken in his classmate’s locker. While at the principal office, in comes Gabi, a Cuban-American girl who barges in and announces herself as the bully’s lawyer. From there, the two kindle a friendship – and chaos ensues.
- This book is about a lot of things: It’s about friendship, it’s about family, it’s about grappling with grief, and it’s about parallel universes. This book throws you into the deep end (or, Sal’s third day in his new school) and takes you for a wild ride.
- While this book is, for the most part, light-hearted and feels so homey with so much Cuban culture and Cuban mothers who want to feed you, there are also some really gut-wrenching and emotional moments too.
Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland
This is one of the most unique books I’ve read – and I mean that in the best way possible. If you’re looking for a genre-bending story with aliens, a critique of the violence of deportation and how it tears families apart.
- Follows Sia, a Mexican-American teen who grieves the death of her mother. When there’s a new boy in town, Sia falls in love with him, but she later discovers that he has secrets of his own that are connected to Sia’s mother’s death. But when a spacecraft crash lands in front of her, and who is inside will upend her life.
- The first half has elements of a contemporary novel, with its exploration of grief, friendship, trauma, and love, whilst the second half has elements of a science-fiction.
- I loved the SFF elements in this book and how they were a fantastic allegory of displacement, the nightmare-ish imagination and reality that many immigrants and people deported experience, and the pain of loss – and how far you’ll go for someone you love.
Running by Natalia Sylvester
This is one of my favourite books of 2020 as well – a searing yet personal portrait of what it means to grow up when the whole world is watching – and challenging your father whom you thought was a hero. (I also interviewed Natalia Sylvester for Latinx Heritage Month!)
- Follows Mariana, a Cuban-American teen and daughter of a GOP presidential nominee. Growing up, Mariana has always separated her life from her father’s political career, but when her privacy is invaded and she can no longer turn away from her father’s political positions, Mariana will have to speak up – even if it’s against her own father.
- I’m in awe with how Sylvester deftly and perfectly wrote a teenage voice that balances being both young and vulnerable, explores the pressures and condescension that young activists face, and explores family dynamics – especially between parent and child.
- This also has unique YA perspective that explores what it’s like being in a high-visibility contexts; that presentation and image is curated, deliberate, and absolutely everything.
Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno
I had the pleasure of reading this book last year – and this is such a gem of a book. If you like a YA contemporary that balances sweet with bitter, then this is a great book that you’ll love. (I also interviewed Nina Moreno about Don’t Date Rosa Santos and her upcoming book!)
- Follows Rosa Santos, a bi Cuban-American teen who lives in the small coastal town of Port Coral with her abuela. The story is an array of threads that weave together to form a wonderful slice-of-life story in a pivotal moment in Rosa’s life: deciding on a college, in which one may possibly give her the opportunity to visit Cuba and learn more about her heritage.
- his story is about family, family curses, the choices that we make, finding your place in the world, saving your home from gentrification, love, and being part of diaspora.
- This story is a love-letter to diaspora teens everywhere. I related so much to Rosa, and I think a lot of diaspora teens, especially Cuban-American teens, will relate to her too.
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
If you haven’t read this book yet, then please do – The Poet X is unforgettable and there’s a good reason why it is beloved and upheld by many.
- Follows Xiomara, a fifteen year old Dominican teen with a fierce and loyal heart who fights with her fist (to fend off advances from local boys) and fights with the private words in her leather notebook.
- This book explores the relationship Xiomara has with the world, her body, and her Dominican and religious identity.
- Moreover, this book explores how Xiomara is forcefully placed into rigid boxes and expectations of how she should be and exist – and how she finds freedom and power in poetry and slam poetry.
Pride by Ibi Zoboi
I read this two years ago and enjoyed it so much! If you love retellings, then please please please read Pride, which is a fantastic and contemporary retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Moreover, Pride is being made into an HBO series!
- Set in Bushwick, New York, this book follows Tahitian-Dominican teen, Zuri, and her encounter with the Darcy’s; her new rich Black neighbours.
- Pride is a brilliant and much-needed exploration of the gentrification of neighbourhoods and poorer areas. It has great discourse on classism, privilege, and identity.
- Readers will love Zuri as a character. She is unapologetic, honest, ambitious, and real. She isn’t the conventional ‘nice’ protagonist – but that’s fine by me.
Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older
If you love urban fantasy, creative stories and magic, and love the idea of how art can come to life in the form of magic, then you absolutely have to read Shadowshaper.
- Follows Sierra, a Puerto Rican teen, who discovers that her family are shadowshapers, powerful individuals who can ‘shape’ spirits through art, music, and storytelling.
- The main mode of magic in the book, shadowshaping, is so creative and fascinating, and I loved how shadowshaping was tied to family, community, and emotional connection.
- This book explores cultural appropriation, and I love how Older explored this through an antagonist and their motivations — it was brilliant.
Juliet Takes A Breath by Gabby Rivera
Everything in this book is so understated, but I think that’s what makes it so powerful – and so memorable, even though I read this two years ago.
- This book is a character-driven story about Juliet, a Puerto Rican lesbian from the Bronx, and her transformative trip to Portland to work alongside an author she looks up to.
- I loved Juliet as a character; she’s naive and ignorant of most feminist issues in the beginning, so the story centers a lot growth, learning, and discovery of feminism, being a queer woman of colour and sexuality, intersectional feminism, and finding strength and empowerment within communities.
- This book addresses and explores white feminism, and I couldn’t help but relate to how Juliet comes to learn about it – it’s heartbreaking, disillusioning, but felt immensely real to me.
Dealing in Dreams by Lilliam Rivera
I love reading dystopia narratives from different cultural lens, and I think Dealing in Dreams is one such book that I’ll always recommend – even for its really fascinating critical themes.
- Follows Nalah, better known as Chief Rocka, who leads an all-girl gang in Las Mal Criadas (LMC) in Mega City, a dystopian landscape centered on the opulence of The Towers.
- This book takes you on a journey through Mega City, and also through the supposedly desolate world beyond across the border. Nalah’s physical journey runs parallel to her growth, and readers will be so compelled by where her journey and the story takes her.
- Thematically, this book is fantastic. There’s so much to unpack in this book – how this is a huge metaphor for capitalism, why the American Dream is a lie, classism and class violence, and how the oppressed can become oppressors.
We Set The Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia
If you love the idea of a dystopian story with a feminist, critical and queer lens, then you will absolutely love We Set The Dark on Fire and how it it is incisive as it is intense and exciting.
- Follows Dani, a girl born in a world where women grow up to become one of two wives to their husbands. When Dani begins to realise that willful blindness to the suffering of her people at the hands of a corrupt government can no longer go ignored, she becomes a spy to the rebellion – but falls in love with someone she did not expect in the process.
- Set in a heteronormative and sexist society, this story is a brilliant and feminist critique of patriarchal structures and the sexist expectations of women – and how Dani’s journey, alongside the woman she falls in love with, subvert these hegemonic structures.
- The worldbuilding is Latine-influenced and I loved how it explores the intersections of gender, heteronormativity, and oppression.
The Last 8 by Laura Pohl
I picked this up on a whim during Latine Heritage Month and I was floored – this is an awesome and refreshing post-apocalyptic SFF, and the moment I finished this book, I immediately started the second – heck yes, it’s that good!
- Follows Clover Martinez, a Mexican-American teen who survives a catastrophic alien invasion and travels across the country – only to end up in Area 51 and discovers a group of survivor teenagers.
- What makes this book so good is that it’s more than a post-apocalyptic story – it’s also a story about what it means to survive, to fight against all odds, and what is worth living for.
- There’s action, there’s emotions, there’s betrayal and exciting plot twists, and there’s also a wonderfully culturally diverse and queer cast of characters whom I loved immediately.
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
When Cemetery Boys became a New York best-selling book, everyone was delighted and thrilled – and with good reason. Cemetery Boys is a fantastic debut with a compelling story and a tender romance that will have you quivering.
- Follows Yadriel, a trans Cuban-Mexican teen who must prove to his family that he can be a brujo – and instead of summoning his cousin, he accidentally summons the ghost of local bad boy, Julian.
- I loved Yadriel and Julian’s dynamic. There is an intensity there, but it’s slow-burn and I just relished in how tender yet fiery their bond was. Their romance was really well done too, and so thoughtful in its implications, and with the story’s mystery elements, I was hopelessly clued to my audiobook.
- I liked how this book explores the intersection between Yadriel’s family, their history as brujx, and Latinx identity. Aiden talked about this when I interviewed him awhile back, and what it shines through brilliantly.
Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria
If you love a story about pulling off a heist and a rag-tag group of morally grey teens who are fighting fate and for what is right, then you will absolutely love Beneath the Citadel.
- Follows a team of teen rebels trying to take down a corrupt high council, who govern in accordance to prophecies.
- I loved the idea of rooks and seers and prophecies. A massive component of the story is the idea of taking away memories, and this is used strategically to confuse and mislead their enemies. I thought that this enriched the plot, kept you guessing, and there was also this added layer of how memories make a person who they are.
- A really fun read and very engaging as well with a cast of characters that you will love.
Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro
I remember sitting on the floor and reading this and feeling absolutely shattered – this is a powerful story about teen activism, injustice, and fighting for what you believe in.
- Follows Moss, a Black Latinx teen who becomes a teen activist, who fights against the oppressive practices enforced by the police at his school.
- An amazing and nuanced examination of activism, police brutality, racism, and how oppression is systemic and disproportionately affects not only people of colour, but particularly poor people of colour.
- The narrative was accessible and extremely engaging – though, do prepare yourself for some heart-breaking scenes.
Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson
Want to read a book that’s Latine, a bit spooky, and so much fun? Undead Girl Gang would be my top choice – and you’ll love how delightful and light-hearted this is – despite the presence of death themes.
- Follows Mila who, after suspecting suspicious circumstances surrounding her best friend’s death, brings back her friend from the grave — and accidentally brings back two others as well. This story has girl gangs, fat rep, Mexican rep, and is (intersectional!!) feminist as heck.
- Despite its light-heartedness, there’s the right amount of mystery, spook, and paranormal stuff that kept it interesting and fun.
- Additionally, it subtly explores themes such as the choices we make when we’re alive, second chances, unlikely friendships, revenge, grief, and prejudice.
You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria
This book is a strong contender for being my favourite romance of the year – I loved this book; loved how fun yet tender and emotional this was and so satisfying as well.
- Follows Jasmine, a Puerto-Rican-Filipino telenovela actress who just got out of a messy and very public breakup. When she lands the role in a new telenovela streaming series, she has to act opposite Ashton, a Puerto-Rican actor – professional, guarded, but has secrets that he has to protect.
- The character arcs for You Had Me at Hola were so satisfying. Jasmine and Ashton’s struggles and insecurities felt so genuine, and I enjoyed seeing their dynamic, their roles as actors and the characters they play, and how their character arcs developed in tandem with each other.
- The chemistry between Jasmine and Asthon was incredible; they were a little awkward together (in a good and endearing way!) following series of mix-ups and miscommunication, but they felt drawn to one another.
This Train is Being Held by Ismée Amiel Williams
I didn’t know what to think when I started this book, but all I know is that I came away feeling so satisfied and delighted by this YA contemporary.
- Taking place over three years, this story follows Isabelle, a white-passing biracial white-Cuban teen and aspiring dancer, and Alex, a brown Dominican teen, who meet on the train – over and over and over again.
- This Train is Being Held strikes a really careful yet deft balance of being cosy and soft but also raw and confronting. The romantic moments were wonderful, but I also enjoyed the ‘things can get in the way sometimes’ element of the story – it felt so real.
- This book is an example of instalove that is interesting and well-done – though the two characters strike an immediate attraction, their romance and how it grows is also slow-burn – and I loved it.
Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
If you love the idea of a historical fantasy that reads like a fairytale, has some of the most tender romantic moments in storytelling, then Gods of Jade and Shadow is an absolute must-read. This book changed me forever – and I am forever grateful to how this book shattered my feelings into a million pieces.
- Follows Casiopea, a girl who accidentally frees an imprisoned god of death when she opens her grandfather’s treasure chest. When the god of death, Hun-Kamé, embeds a bone shard into her thumb and requests her help to take back his throne from his brother, he promises her heart’s greatest desire should they succeed – or her life is forfeit.
- Though this is a journey book, I think the book will nonetheless appeal to those who aren’t fond of ‘journey books’. The storytelling is fantastic; it interweaves all these different elements of the story perfectly, elevating the worldbuilding and mythos and the stakes.
- If you love yearning, then this book is for you. The yearning in this book will make you ache – in the best way possible.
Books on my TBR
I had so many books that I wanted to read during Latine Heritage Month but, alas, I can only read so fast! But if I read books like the speed of sound, I would have read these books too – and, I’m sharing my TBR with you all, because I want to read Latinx books outside of Latinx Heritage Month as well – as we all should!
What If A Fish by Anika Fajardo
Half-Colombian Eddie Aguado has never really felt Colombian. Especially after Papa died. And since Mama keeps her memories of Papa locked up where Eddie can’t get to them, he only has Papa’s third-place fishing tournament medal to remember him by. He’ll have to figure out how to be more Colombian on his own.
As if by magic, the perfect opportunity arises. Eddie – who’s never left Minnesota – is invited to spend the summer in Colombia with his older half-brother. But as his adventure unfolds, he feels more and more like a fish out of water.
Figuring out how to be a true Colombiano might be more difficult than he thought.
Whimsical and unflinchingly honest, What if a Fish is a generational story of family and identity where hats turn into leeches, ghosts blow kisses from lemon trees, and the things you find at the end of your fishing line might not be a fish at all.
I’ll read any middle-grade book with a gorgeous cover, but I’ll also love any middle-grade book that explores family and identity. As much as I love YA, there’s something so… powerful and special and gentle about middle-grade books – and I can’t wait to read this one.
Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina
Merci Suarez knew that sixth grade would be different, but she had no idea just how different. For starters, Merci has never been like the other kids at her private school in Florida, because she and her older brother, Roli, are scholarship students. They don’t have a big house or a fancy boat, and they have to do extra community service to make up for their free tuition. So when bossy Edna Santos sets her sights on the new boy who happens to be Merci’s school-assigned Sunshine Buddy, Merci becomes the target of Edna’s jealousy. Things aren’t going well at home, either: Merci’s grandfather and most trusted ally, Lolo, has been acting strangely lately — forgetting important things, falling from his bike, and getting angry over nothing. No one in her family will tell Merci what’s going on, so she’s left to her own worries, while also feeling all on her own at school.
I actually started reading this before my membership for Scribd expired but I was really enjoying this! I love how this book, off the bat, captured an experience that I haven’t seen before and I also loved how Meg Medina captured child-like perspectives. I can’t wait to return to this.
The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez by Adrianna Cuevas
All Nestor Lopez wants is to live in one place for more than a few months and have dinner with his dad.
When he and his mother move to a Texas to live with his grandmother after his dad’s latest deployment, Nestor plans to lay low. He definitely doesn’t want anyone to find out his deepest secret: that he can talk to animals.
But when the animals in his new town start disappearing, Nestor’s grandmother becomes the prime suspect after she is spotted in the woods where they were last seen. As Nestor investigates the source of the disappearances, he learns that they are being seized by a tule vieja- a witch who can absorb an animal’s powers by biting it during a solar eclipse. And the next eclipse is just around the corner…
Now it’s up to Nestor’s extraordinary ability and his new friends to catch the tule vieja- and save a place he just might call home.
How cool does this book’s blurb sound?! This sounds like one heck of an adventure mixed in with some family feels – and I’m so excited to meet Nestor and learn more about his awesome power of talking to animals!
The Land of the Cranes by Aida Salazar
Nine-year-old Betita knows she is a crane. Papi has told her the story, even before her family fled to Los Angeles to seek refuge from cartel wars in Mexico. The Aztecs came from a place called Aztlan, what is now the Southwest US, called the land of the cranes. They left Aztlan to establish their great city in the center of the universe-Tenochtitlan, modern-day Mexico City. It was prophesized that their people would one day return to live among the cranes in their promised land. Papi tells Betita that they are cranes that have come home.
Then one day, Betita’s beloved father is arrested by Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) and deported to Mexico. Betita and her pregnant mother are left behind on their own, but soon they too are detained and must learn to survive in a family detention camp outside of Los Angeles. Even in cruel and inhumane conditions, Betita finds heart in her own poetry and in the community she and her mother find in the camp. The voices of her fellow asylum seekers fly above the hatred keeping them caged, but each day threatens to tear them down lower than they ever thought they could be. Will Betita and her family ever be whole again?
I’ve seen the praise for this book and it is high, friends. Land of the Cranes sounds like a must-read book to me, and I’m really intrigued by how cranes will intertwine with this story.
Color Me In by Natasha Diaz
Who is Nevaeh Levitz?
Growing up in an affluent suburb of New York City, sixteen-year-old Nevaeh Levitz never thought much about her biracial roots. When her Black mom and Jewish dad split up, she relocates to her mom’s family home in Harlem and is forced to confront her identity for the first time.
Nevaeh wants to get to know her extended family, but one of her cousins can’t stand that Nevaeh, who inadvertently passes as white, is too privileged, pampered, and selfish to relate to the injustices they face on a daily basis as African Americans. In the midst of attempting to blend their families, Nevaeh’s dad decides that she should have a belated bat mitzvah instead of a sweet sixteen, which guarantees social humiliation at her posh private school. Even with the push and pull of her two cultures, Nevaeh does what she’s always done when life gets complicated: she stays silent.
It’s only when Nevaeh stumbles upon a secret from her mom’s past, finds herself falling in love, and sees firsthand the prejudice her family faces that she begins to realize she has a voice. And she has choices. Will she continue to let circumstances dictate her path? Or will she find power in herself and decide once and for all who and where she is meant to be?
This has been on my to-read list for the longest time – and it’s about time that I get my act together to read this! This book explores what it means to be biracial and also explores friendship, racism and romance. I’m excited to finally read this.
Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by by Maika Moulite & Maritza Moulite
When a school presentation goes very wrong, Alaine Beauparlant finds herself suspended, shipped off to Haiti and writing the report of a lifetime…
You might ask the obvious question: What do I, a seventeen-year-old Haitian American from Miami with way too little life experience, have to say about anything?
Actually, a lot.
Thanks to “the incident” (don’t ask), I’m spending the next two months doing what my school is calling a “spring volunteer immersion project.” It’s definitely no vacation. I’m toiling away under the ever-watchful eyes of Tati Estelle at her new nonprofit. And my lean-in queen of a mother is even here to make sure I do things right. Or she might just be lying low to dodge the media sharks after a much more public incident of her own…and to hide a rather devastating secret.
All things considered, there are some pretty nice perks…like flirting with Tati’s distractingly cute intern, getting actual face time with my mom and experiencing Haiti for the first time. I’m even exploring my family’s history—which happens to be loaded with betrayals, superstitions and possibly even a family curse.
You know, typical drama. But it’s nothing I can’t handle.
What pulled me into this book was the cover, but reading the blurb – I really want to read this. Moreover, the Moulite sisters have another book coming out soon, One of the Good Ones, and I’m excited to read that as well.
Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls by Kaela Rivera
Living in the remote town of Tierra del Sol is dangerous—especially in the criatura months, when powerful spirits break free from their home in Devil’s Alley to threaten humankind. But Cecelia Rios has always believed there was more to the criaturas who roamed the desert, much to her family’s disapproval. After all, it’s common knowledge that only brujas—humans who capture and control criaturas—consort with the spirits, and brujeria is a terrible crime.
When her older sister, Juana, is kidnapped by El Sombrerón, a powerful dark criatura, everyone in town believes she’s lost forever. But Cece is determined to bring Juana back. To get into Devil’s Alley, though, she’ll have to become a bruja herself—while hiding her quest from her parents, her town, and the other brujas. Thankfully, the legendary criatura Coyote has a soft spot for humans, and agrees to help her on her journey. With him at her side, Cece sets out to reunite her family—and maybe even change what it means to be a bruja along the way.
Anna Meriano recommended this book to me – well, to Xiaolong! – which means that this is now an instant must-read, especially since Anna said that Cece is fierce and powerful while staying positive and loving – I love characters like this and can’t wait to meet Cece.
Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz
Lana Torres has always preferred dragons to people. In a few weeks, sixteen countries will compete in the Blazewrath World Cup, a tournament where dragons and their riders fight for glory in a dangerous relay. Lana longs to represent her native Puerto Rico in their first ever World Cup appearance, and when Puerto Rico’s Runner—the only player without a dragon steed—is kicked off the team, she’s given the chance.
But when she discovers that a former Blazewrath superstar has teamed up with the Sire—a legendary dragon who’s cursed into human form—the safety of the Cup is jeopardized. The pair are burning down dragon sanctuaries around the world and refuse to stop unless the Cup gets cancelled. All Lana wanted was to represent her country. Now, to do that, she’ll have to navigate an international conspiracy that’s deadlier than her beloved sport.
I had the absolute delight of having Amparo Ortiz visit the blog for Latinx Heritage Month at the Pond, so I’m really excited to read Blazewrath Games! Dragons? Sports? Mystery? Count me in – this sounds like a fun ride.
Miss Meteor by Tehlor Kay Mejia & Anna-Marie McLemore
There hasn’t been a winner of the Miss Meteor beauty pageant who looks like Lita Perez or Chicky Quintanilla in all its history. But that’s not the only reason Lita wants to enter the contest, or why her ex-best friend Chicky wants to help her. The road to becoming Miss Meteor isn’t about being perfect; it’s about sharing who you are with the world—and loving the parts of yourself no one else understands. So to pull off the unlikeliest underdog story in pageant history, Lita and Chicky are going to have to forget the past and imagine a future where girls like them are more than enough—they are everything.
What’s not to love about this blurb? I can’t wait to read this, especially since it’s written by Tehlor Kay Mejia and Anna-Marie McLemore – two fantastic authors – and I look forward to reading Miss Meteor and seeing what their writing powers combined.
Lobizona by Romina Garber
Some people ARE illegal.
Lobizonas do NOT exist.
Both of these statements are false.
Manuela Azul has been crammed into an existence that feels too small for her. As an undocumented immigrant who’s on the run from her father’s Argentine crime-family, Manu is confined to a small apartment and a small life in Miami, Florida.
Until Manu’s protective bubble is shattered.
Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, and her mother is arrested by ICE. Without a home, without answers, and finally without shackles, Manu investigates the only clue she has about her past–a mysterious “Z” emblem—which leads her to a secret world buried within our own. A world connected to her dead father and his criminal past. A world straight out of Argentine folklore, where the seventh consecutive daughter is born a bruja and the seventh consecutive son is a lobizón, a werewolf. A world where her unusual eyes allow her to belong.
As Manu uncovers her own story and traces her real heritage all the way back to a cursed city in Argentina, she learns it’s not just her U.S. residency that’s illegal. . . .it’s her entire existence.
Joce hosted Romina Garber for Latinx Heritage Month at the Pond, and this interview is one of my favourites and made me so excited to read Lobizona. The moment this book is made available at my local library, you can bet that I’ll be reading this immediately.
A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey
Teenage master of Cuban cuisine, Lila Reyes, is eager to inherit her family’s Miami bakery along with her sister, Pilar. But between spring and graduation, Lila’s abuela dies, her best friend abandons her, and her long-time boyfriend dumps her. Fearing Lila’s emotional health, her parents defy her wishes and entrust her summer to family and their Winchester, England inn. Even though she’s given a space to cook at the inn, she longs for Miami, the seat of her Cuban roots. Being a Miami Cuban baker is her glorified past and destined future, forged by years of training by her loving abuela.
Days into her stay, Orion Maxwell barges into Lila’s inn kitchen with a delivery from his family’s tea shop. A nuisance at first, opposite ingredients soon learn to blend. Orion befriends Lila, introducing her to his mates and devouring her food––comida Cubana.
Orion entertains her with his mental collection of superstitions and sweeps her onto his vintage motorbike. He wraps cold, underdressed Lila in his wool cardigan and becomes her personal tour guide. His mum’s early-onset (FTD) Dementia gives Orion a unique outlook––he never asks too much of the world, accepting what he can’t control. Lila soon discovers this British boy brings empathy to her loss because he’s living his own.
Before long, Lila can’t control the route of her own heart as she begins to fall for more than a new love. England has charmed her. And a special opportunity in London tempts her. As her return ticket looms, Lila feels impossibly caught between two flags. Hearts aren’t supposed to split like this––between a beautiful boy and a beautiful family. Between exploring an uncharted future in a rich new place, and honoring Abuela’s treasured legacy.
The soft and gorgeous cover drew me in, but the blurb and how food seems to be the heart of the book has hooked me in. This book isn’t out yet – it comes out on November 10th! – but I’m looking forward to this book’s release and reading this story.