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9 Young Adult Books About Latinx Youth

Diverse literature for young adults is essential. Young Afro Caribbean-American activist Marley Dias started the campaign #1000BlackGirlBooks in 2015 because she was “tired of reading was books about white boys and dogs and felt there wasn’t really any freedom for me to read what I wanted.” Her mission sparked international conversations about the need to diversify Young Adult literature to reflect the diversity of people that read.

According to Diversity in YA, in 2014 the Young Adult Library Association’s Best for Young Adults List only had 4% of books about characters with disabilities; only 3% of the books on the list had Latino characters, and authors of color only made up 10% of the list. Although these numbers look abysmal there are books available with young Latina protagonist that are worth putting on your reading list and the reading list of young Latinxs in your family.

“The Poet X” by Elizabeth Acevedo

Xiomara Batista is an Afro-Dominican Latina that lives in Harlem with her twin brother Xavier, her extremely Catholic mother, and her father that seems to be more of a shadow than a physical presence in their home. Xiomara writes poetry to deal with street harassment, feelings of hyper-visibility as a teen girl, hyper-sexualization because of her figure, she shares what she feels for her crushes, and her mother’s overbearing and overprotective ways. After her mother finds her private journal that includes intimate thoughts, Xiomara is desperate to find a way to balance her ambitions while being respectful of her parents conservative and somewhat antiquated beliefs. Written in narrative poetry form, “The Poet X” is a gripping, easy-to-read, and highly relatable book about a young Latina trying to find the balance between parental expectations and their own dreams.

“ShadowShaper” by Daniel Jose Older

Book one in the “Shadow Shaper Cypher,” “Shadowshaper” introduces us to Sierra Santiago. Sierra is a young Afro-Latina that lives in Brooklyn, New York with her mother, father, brother and grandfather who suffered what many believe to be a stroke. Sierra creates visual arts because she believes they help capture the essence of her ever-changing Brooklyn neighborhood. However, her world is about to change even more when she realizes that the visual arts she loves to create hold magical powers. One day, her grandfather tells Sierra she must work with Robbie, a Haitian classmate and fellow visual artist, to heal wounds that Sierra didn’t inflict. Generational secrets, magic, and intergenerational trust are major themes in “Shadowshaper.” Sierra’s friends Bennie, Tee, and Izzy help Sierra understand this parallel world. Magic, spirits, and generational knowledge about Brooklyn and beyond must be learned to make sure her family, friends, and neighborhood aren’t forever changed by evil plans. 

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

Stricken by the grief of her sister’s untimely death, young Chicago native Julia is always under her parents’ watch. Without privacy or a person that will listen without judgment, Julia is full of questions about her sister’s death. On top of that, Julia is also dealing with her own mental and emotional health concerns, self-esteem issues, while trying to find a way to get out of her family’s financially poor living conditions and into college outside of Chicago. On an especially difficult day when she was missing her sister more than usual, she sneaks into Olga, her sister’s, room. Her room was untouched since the day she died and finds hints that shatter her perception of her “perfect sister”. Julia is determined to find out who her sister was, who she herself is, and how to live her life outside of the shadow of her sister’s perfect image. Mental health, grief, romance, and trip back to Mexico help Julia find her way back to herself and her family in ways she would never imagine. “I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter” takes you through a windy and necessary healing journey that many can relate to.

“House of Spirits” by Isabel Allende

This multi-generational novel includes themes about social economic class lines, cultural expectations, marriage and how all these must come together as a way of survival. The two narrators of this tale walk us through a web of family history and political realities in Chile. While no one wants to question their ancestors’ motives, as seen in this story, one can get frustrated with past events that have both brought them into this world and make surviving feel like a curse.

“American Streets” by Ibi Zoboi

Fabiola Toussant and her mother are relocating from Port-au-Prince Haiti to Detroit, Michigan to be reunited with Fabiola’s mother’s sister and her three daughters — but there is a problem. Fabiola is a United States citizen but her mother isn’t. Before she can dream of a life with her mother in Detroit, those hopes are ripped away from her by U.S Immigration. Fabiola must learn how to navigate the gray cityscape of Detroit with family members that feel more like strangers, a private school that feels like she doesn’t belong, and also find a way to get her mother back. Romance, cultural differences, grief, and guilt about enjoying life while her mother is detained, become gnarled for Fabiola. Using ancestral knowledge through vodou, a secret and toxic relationship with a detective that prays on Fabiola’s naivety and vulnerability, Fabiola must find a way to get her mother back and a start her new life in Detroit. American Streets tells a story about the Black immigration experience, cultural divides, and how ancestral knowledge is an invaluable lesson.

“Indestructible: Growing up Queer, Cuban, and Punk in Miami” by Cristy C. Road

90’s punk is almost its own character in this zine stylebook by Queer Cuban artist Cristy C. Road. Punk means challenging status quo, it means living out loud, it means finding a home that to others may seem “unsafe” or “sinister.” Punk, Queer, and Latinx are intersecting identities that do not often make it to bookshelves in one book. Written as a collection of short stories inspired by real-life events, they talk about challenging cis and heteronormative ideas, being Cuban and finding queerness as a home, and coming together with ‘misfits’ that are the perfect fit. This book tells the story many other Latinx folks can relate to.

“The Land of Childhood” by Claudia Lars

You never forget the places that saw you grow up and Claudia Lars proves this with her intimate stories about life in rural El Salvador. Lars’ descriptions about El Salvador will make you feel nostalgic about your own upbringing. This book tells the story of how generations of families help build the physical and figurative foundation of family and life. Being of Salvadorian and Irish descent meshes into a vivid story of remembering customs, honor folklore, and celebrating those who came before you. This book will remind you of home, wherever that may be.

“The Meaning of Consuelo” by Judith Ortiz Cofer

This story follows two sisters, Mili and Consuelo, who were born to a Puerto Rican family. Almost as if a reflection of the land, the family’s reality is tested often. Consuelo struggles to find a way to live beyond the cultural constraints of her family and what they expect her to do. “The Meaning of Consuelo” is a story about family but it’s also very much a story about Puerto Rico.

“Touching Snow” by M. Sindy Felin

Karina’s family moved from Haiti to the United States and while some things remained the same, like her stepfather’s violent temper, other things changed. In Haiti, her stepfather used to beat her siblings but when they moved to the states he began beating Karina. Things reach a new level of scary during one particularly violent episode when her stepfather is arrested and placed in jail. Karina is relieved that he is locked up behind bars, but the relief is short-lived when her mother asks Karina to say she made up all those accusations about her stepfather. Karina wants her siblings and mother to be safe and away from her violent stepfather but safety in America also means having to pay more bills on time and having to find a new place to live — all things Karina’s mother can’t do on her own. Stuck between two different lifestyles in Haiti and The United States, Karina has to figure out where she wants to live not only for herself but for her family as well.


READ: 20 Books by Literary Latinas That Will Make You Feel Like You’re Looking Into A Mirror

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Netflix Is Turning Gabriel García Márquez’s Classic ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ Into A Series

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Netflix Is Turning Gabriel García Márquez’s Classic ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ Into A Series

Fans of magical realism rejoice. On Wednesday, Netflix announced it acquired the rights to Gabriel García Márquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and will be turning the literary masterpiece into a Spanish-language series.

This is the first time the 1967 novel, considered “one of the most significant works of the 20th Century,” will be adapted for screen. For years, the author, who died in 2014, refused to sell the film rights, believing the story could not be done justice through a two-hour project, according to Deadline.

Rodrigo Garcia and Gonzalo García Barcha, García Márquez’s sons, who are serving as executive producers on the show, believe a series is an appropriate approach to the book.

“For decades, our father was reluctant to sell the film rights to Cien Años de Soledad. He believed that it could not be made under the time constraints of a feature film, or that producing it in a language other than Spanish would not do it justice,” Rodrigo Garcia told BuzzFeed News, adding that the “current golden age of series,” with “the level of talented writing and directing, the cinematic quality of content,” changed the family’s mind.

“The time could not be better to bring an adaptation to the extraordinary global viewership that Netflix provides,” he continued.

The series will be filmed in Colombia.

“One Hundred Years of Solitude” tells the story of the multi-generational Buendia family, whose patriarch Jose Arcadio Buendia founded Macondo, a fictional town in the South American country.

The book has sold more than 50 million copies and has been translated into 46 languages.

In a statement, Francisco Ramos, Netflix’s vice president of Spanish-language content, said, “We know our members around the world love watching Spanish-language films and series and we feel this will be a perfect match of project and our platform.”

He’s right. Since announcing the adaptation, fans of the magical realism novel have been celebrating the news.

There’s no word yet on when the series will debut and who will star in it.

Read: This Film About Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is At The Center Of The Most Expensive Sundance Documentary Deal Of All Time

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Latina Reads: ‘Pride’ Is The Afro-Latinx YA Novel You Wish You Read As A Teen

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Latina Reads: ‘Pride’ Is The Afro-Latinx YA Novel You Wish You Read As A Teen

It’s no secret that Latinx representation is severely missing in media, especially for Afro-Latinos. Although the numbers are slowly getting better on television, movies and in music, the literary space is still lagging behind. But all of that is slowly changing in particular thanks to critically acclaimed author Ibi Zoboi, whose first novel, American Street, told the tale of young Haitian immigrant Fabiola Toussaint navigating the dangerous streets of Detroit on her own after her mother is detained by U.S. immigration.

Now, Zoboi brings us a timely update on the classic novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin — but this time told through the perspectives of Zuri Benitez (a.k.a. Elizabeth Bennet) and Darius Darcy (a.k.a. Mr. Darcy).

Zoboi’s latest masterpiece is titled Pride.

In Pride, we first meet Zuri, an Afro-Latina teen who has plenty of pride. She has pride in her roots, pride in her family and, most of all, pride in Brooklyn. But when the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri isn’t sure that her pride is enough to change the gentrification that is quickly happening in her beloved neighborhood. Even worse, her older sister Janae starts to fall for charming Ainsley at the same time as Zuri is thrown together with the arrogant Darius, who she can’t stand and wants nothing to do with.

It’s an unexpected joy to be drawn into the world of Pride, where so many changes are happening all at once. As Bushwick changes and families that used to live there for ages are priced out and Zuri begins to fight to keep her home, we readers are drawn into her battle quickly.

She is just the kind of Latina that we rarely read about before: She is smart, quick-witted and not afraid to stand up for what she believes in. She is passionate, cares deeply about her family and is, in a sense, even a little fearless. But she’s also still a teenager, which is part of what makes this novel so irresistible.

Zuri has all the hope and fears that we all had as kids about to turn into adults.

She sees the world changing and she doesn’t know what she can do about it but she wants to do something. It’s that passion and drive which makes her both a captivating character and someone we can relate to.

And perhaps because Zuri is a teenager or because this is a remix of Pride and Prejudice, there is the predictable romantic chaos. Soon enough, Zuri finds herself being pulled in different directions by her growing attraction to Darius, who she still kind of hates, and the oh-so-cute Warren (a.k.a George Wickham), who Darius kind of hates.

One of the most surprising and enchanting things about the novel, however, is the way the characters speak. Zoboi doesn’t try to dumb down or change their language. She doesn’t try to make them sound high-brow or proper, which some reviewers had a problem with, but she does make them sound like exactly who they are: An Afro-Latino family growing up in today’s Brooklyn. Zuri is unapologetically herself and the way she speaks is beautiful, complicated and not even remotely make-belief.

One of the big wins of Pride is that Zuri and the other characters sound like themselves with no pretense and just the right amount of class and a dash of sass.

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Repost from @owlcrate We were so thrilled to include Pride by @ibizoboi in our October box! It’s a modern day Pride and Prejudice remix set in Brooklyn, NY. It deals with many complex issues but is also totally swoon-worthy. And Ibi’s writing is absolutely stunning! ???? The edition we included featured an exclusive cover, exclusive end papers, exclusive color hardback, and it was SIGNED! The publisher truly put a lot of love into the design of this book! ???? Want to get your hands on a copy? We have some extras available for purchase at shop.owlcrate.com while supplies last. ???? Have you read Pride yet? What did you think?? ???? Photos tagged with the original creators! ???? OwlCrate Photo Challenge: Pride & Hot Pink. #ocbookstore ???? #owlcrate #subscriptionbox #bookstagram #pride #ibizoboi #exclusiveedition #bookmail #happyreading #currentlyreading #epicreads

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Without revealing too much about how the novel ends (you’ll have to actually read all of Pride for that), it’s safe to say that Zoboi deserves all of the praise that she has received for her work. But what really matters in a book like this isn’t how she “skillfully balances cultural identity, class and gentrification against the heady magic of first love in her vibrant reimagining of this beloved classic” (from the book’s back cover), though these things are all great too, but rather what it represents and means for future generation of Latinx kids picking up this young adult novel at their library, local bookstore or online.

A book like this can mean so much to those of us who grew up without seeing ourselves in the pages of the books we were taught in school or the books we found at the library. It’s why today, even as adults, we still pick up YA novels with the hopes of seeing our younger selves in their pages. A book like Pride reminds us of that. It reminds us of what it’s like to be a teen and it reinforces the importance of seeing yourself in literature.

The Haitian author, who recently took down an “insulting review” of Pride that made us all wish we had her clap-back game, touched on something special in the story of Zuri the Afro-Latina in Brooklyn. Here’s hoping Zoboi continues to write her black and Latinx representative novels for a long, long time.

Read: 13 Latina Fantasy Books For the Sci-Fi Lover in Your Life

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