To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, here are five of my all-time favorite books written by Hispanicauthors to read.
The selected work encompasses adult and young adult fiction in a wide breadth of genres, though in retrospect I’ve realized that I tend to gravitate towards books with a little bit of magic incorporated into the story.
“The Poet X” by Elizabeth Acevedo Written in verse, “The Poet X,” is an emotionally raw story that follows Xiomara Batista, an Afro-Latina growing up in Harlem. For the majority of the novel, Xiomara is caught between the weighty cultural/religious expectations of her Mami versus what she wants to be.
Through poetry, Xiomara is able to express her thoughts and feelings about her family, religion, sexuality and feminism within the lens of Latinx culture. It is a powerful and visceral read that will leave you with your heart broken only for it to be stitched back together at the end.
“Mexican Gothic” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Set during the 1950s in the Mexican countryside, “Mexican Gothic” offers an atmosphere of steady dread, suspense and chills — perfect for our chilly fall weather.
When Noemi Taboada receives a distressing letter from her recently wed cousin, Catalina, Noemi travels to High Place, an old and ruined mansion in the Mexican countryside. Catalina’s demeanor seizes Noemi’s curiosity. It leads her on an adventure to discover the secrets buried within the walls of High Place; secrets that were kept hidden for a reason.
The novel explores race relations between European settlers and Native people, tackles the aftermath of post-colonialism and challenges the theory of eugenics through a feisty and brilliantly strong willed female protagonist.
“Cemetery Boys” by Aiden ThomasFilled with love, magic, and courage, “Cemetery Boys,” is a riveting and compelling exploration of what it means to show everyone — including yourself — who you really are.
In this world, Yadriel is part of a Latinx family that are brujx — people who have been bestowed magic by Lady Death to heal wounds and see/guide spirits into the afterlife.
All Yadriel has ever wanted was to be accepted as a brujo. But because he is transgender, his family refuses him to go through the coming of age ritual before Lady Death, who will grant him magical powers.
So one night, days before Dia de los Muertos, Yadriel and his cousin Maritza perform the ritual. Moments later they both feel the death of one of their own — their cousin Miguel.
Yadriel’s desire to find the spirit of his cousin leads him to summon the spirit of Julian, who is stubborn, sarcastic, and surprisingly caring. As the novel progresses, the mystery surrounding the death of Yadriel’s cousin and Julian’s is heightened to a tumultuous crescendo that emotionally binds you to the story and it’s unforgettable characters.
“Sabrina & Corina: Stories” by Kali Fajardo-AnstineIn this short story collection, Fajardo-Anstine explores familial relationships, complex family histories, and the resilience of indigenous Latinx women.
The tone of the stories are overwhelmingly sad — it’s hard to read at times especially when I see traces of my own family mirrored back at me — but they are incredibly moving and powerful, resonating through generations of cyclical violence and the insurmountable ways women break those cycles.
What I really love is that these stories offer a glimpse to worlds that are often not seen in traditional American literature like poverty, machismo, and gentrification. If you’re looking for stories that delve into gritty, complicated, and layered Latinx experiences, Sabrina and Corina: Stories is the perfect read to get you started.
“The Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz ZafónAs a Spanish translated work, “The Shadow of the Wind,” is a novel that captures the essence of who readers are with its beautiful prose, gothic literary atmosphere, magic and whirlwind mystery.
It’s so easy to be swept away by “The Shadow of the Wind” as it’s framed as a story within a story.
When Daniel’s father takes him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, he is told to choose any book he’d like and protect it by remembering it for the rest of his life.
He chooses “The Shadow of the Wind” by Julian Carax and is instantly ignited with a fiery passion for the book and its author.
But when Daniel begins to look for more of Julian Carax’s work, he discovers that someone is systematically destroying every last book written by Carax from existence.
While slowly unraveling the mystery of Julian Carax, Daniel is thrust into a world of betrayal, murder, and tragic love.
I am using this definition of Hispanic — someone who speaks Spanish or is a descendant of Spanish-speaking populations.
Addy Ascencio is an Adult Services librarian at Montrose Regional Library.