Books for National Hispanic Heritage Month: Part I

National Hispanic Heritage Month for 2016 lasts from September 15th through October 15th. While National Hispanic Heritage Month website can better explain the awesomeness of this month. I am going to try and provide my own two cents. It is within this month we recognize the contributions of some rock star Hispanic authors and some awesome young adult books that address Hispanic relevant themes. American culture would not be what it is today, without the presence and contributions of this people. Here are a few of my favorite Hispanic relevant books.

Visit the National Hispanic Heritage Month Website at the following link.

The Secret Side of Empty by Maria E. Andreu


M.T.’s family is originally from Guatemala, but they are now living illegally in America. While her parents dreamed that they would build a fortune and return to Guatemala, reality is far different from their imaginings. No papers means that M.T.’s father and mother can’t find a good job or housing. They can’t make a decent wage, and are in constant fear of being caught. M.T. has worked hard at school her entire life, but with graduation looming, she realizes that it all means nothing. She still doesn’t have papers and can’t go to college or get a good job. The pressure of her secret just may force her to break.

Rating: Yeti!

Gabi a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero

Gabi is a modern day fat girl. Her mother constantly harps on Gabi because of her weight, and in doing so, takes pieces of Gabi away. This strong poetic novel truly covers the gambit of young adult issues. From budding sexuality, to teen pregnancy, and lgbt issues, this was a wonderfully compelling novel. 

The cover is completely misleading and does a disservice to the novel. (I know it is part of Gabi’s zine, but I was really put off by the cover.) Gabi presents her story through journal entries and poems. Just before senior year, Gabi finds out that her best friend is pregnant (she didn’t even know her best friend had sex!). Her other best friend is gay and he is working on coming out to his parents, who are completely un-receptive. Gabi’s mother and aunt (guided by their Catholic and Latina heritage) think that Gabi’s friends will ruin her life because of their poor decisions. All this girl wants to do is pass Algebra II and get into Berkley. 

Gabi’s life is further complicated by her troublemaker brother, her drug addict father, and her pregnant mother. 

Whew, this girl has a lot going on. I am glad I read this book because it was really awesome. Totally worth reading. 

Rating: One Unicorn

Dream Things True by Marie Marquardt

(excerpt taken from my Goodreads account)

23848212Alma is an undocumented immigrant, whose father works for Evan’s family, whose uncle is a politician seeking to heighten immigrant laws. The two quickly fall in love, but must fight against everything working against them. Alma lives in constant fear of being sent back to a country she has never known. Evan takes his life for granted and is oblivious to the issues Alma fights against. 

While not the best immigration novel, it is the best romantic immigration novel I have read so far. I was able to see new issues and challenges that undocumented immigrants must overcome on a daily basis. The characters were compelling, as was the Romeo and Juliet plot.

Rating: One Unicorn

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
(excerpt from my Goodreads account)
Ari and Dante become best friends through swimming lessons at the age of 15. They go through growing pains together. Ari deals with his older brother, who is in prison. Dante deals with his romantic feelings for boys. This novel is beautifully written and the characters spill off of the page. It is Printz Honor book, but totally should have been a winner. I absolutely loved the audiobook, which was read by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Loved!

Rating: One Unicorn

The House of Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

13376In the distant future clones exist, drug cartels own the no-man’s land between the United States and Mexico, and the drug cartels can keep an illegal immigrants that they catch in their territory. Matt is a clone of a drug lord. While the drug lord spoils Matt, other servants and family members are disgusted and horrified by Matt. This exciting novel grapples with the ethical decisions surrounding the idea of cloning. This was also a great audiobook! 

Rating: Two Unicorns

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