Hispanic

Grade Level Interest
M
: Middle School (defined as grades 6-8).
S: Senior High (defined as grades 9-12).
A/YA: Adult-marketed book recommended for teens.

 

Sofi Mendoza’s Guide to Getting Lost in Mexico by Malin Alegria

Sofi is a California teen obsessed with clothes, boys, and trying to escape the strict controls of her immigrant parents. Fed up with their rules, she tells them that she is spending the weekend with a friend, cramming for finals. Instead, she sets off for Mexico with two girlfriends. Instead of the anticipated romantic encounter with her big crush, Sofi experiences drunken make-out sessions and American tourists behaving badly. Eager to return home, she is stopped at the border and told that her green card is a fake. Hysterical, Sofi calls home to discover that she and her parents are not legal citizens, and that she is trapped. Unable to speak Spanish, she goes to stay with her father’s sister. Far away from iPods, Internet access, and a working phone, Sofi is forced to review her life and realize the sacrifices her parents made to give her better opportunities. (S)

 

Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez

After Tyler’s father is injured in a tractor accident, his family is forced to hire migrant Mexican workers to help save their Vermont farm from foreclosure. Tyler isn’t sure what to make of these workers. Are they undocumented? And what about the three daughters, particularly Mari, the oldest, who is proud of her Mexican heritage but also increasingly connected her American life. Her family lives in constant fear of being discovered by the authorities and sent back to the poverty they left behind in Mexico. Can Tyler and Mari find a way to be friends despite their differences? (M)

 

The Tequila Worm by Viola Canales

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 quincea–era, 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. It’s a different mundo, but one where Sofia’s traditions take on new meaning and illuminate her path. (M, S)

 

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

This is the story of Esperanza Cordero, whose neighborhood is one of harsh realities and harsh beauty. Esperanza doesn’t want to belong – not to her rundown neighborhood, and not to the low expectations the world has for her. Esperanza’s story is that of a young girl coming into her power, and inventing for herself what she will become. (S)

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Mexican Whiteboy by Matt de la Pena

Danny’s tall and skinny. Even though he’s not built, his arms are long enough to give his pitch a power so fierce any college scout would sign him on the spot. Ninety-five mile per hour fastball, but the boy’s not even on a team. Every time he gets up on the mound he loses it. But at his private school they don’t expect much from him. Danny’s half Mexican. And growing up in San Diego means everyone else knows exactly who he is before they find out he can’t speak Spanish, and before they realize his mom has blond hair and blue eyes. And that’s why he’s spending the summer with his dad’s family. To find himself, he might just have to face the demons he refuses to see right in front of his face. (S)

 

Dreams of Significant Girls by Cristina Garcia

Shirin is an Iranian princess; Ingrid, a German-Canadian eccentric; and Vivien, a Cuban-Jewish New Yorker culinary phenom. The three are roommates at a Swiss boarding school, where they spend their summers learning more than French and European culture. As the girls’ paths cross and merge—summers together, school years separate—they navigate social and cultural differences and learn the confusing and conflicting legacies of their families’ pasts. In the spirit of sisterhood and friendship, Shirin, Ingrid, and Vivien grow together even when they are apart, forming unbreakable bonds along the way. (S)

 

Chasing the Jaguar by Michele Dominguez Greene

Martika begins having strange dreams about jungles and jaguars just before her quinceanera. Her mother brings her to Tia Tellin – the neighborhood bruja, or witch, to help sort out what she sees. Martika is astonished to learn that Tia Tellin is her great aunt and that they are both descended from a long line of Mayan healers, whose powers include psychic divination. When the daughter of her mother’s client is kidnapped, Martika’s visions help guide the search for the missing girl. (M, S)

 

Suckerpunch by David Hernandez

It’s the summer before senior year, and Marcus should be hanging out, filling his sketchbook, maybe asking a girl out for once. So why is he in a car with his brother, his brother’s girl, and the pistol, headed straight toward his dad? (S)

 

 

Dark Dude by Oscar Hijuelos

The Midwest is the land of milk and honey, but for Rico Fuentes, it’s really a last resort. Trading Harlem for Wisconsin, though, means giving up on a big part of his identity. And when Rico no longer has to prove that he’s Latino, he almost stops being one. Except he can never have an ordinary white kid’s life, because there are some things that can’t be left behind, that can’t be cut loose or forgotten. These are the things that will be with you forever…These are the things that will follow you a thousand miles away. (S)

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Crossing the Wire by Will Hobbs

When falling crop prices threaten his family with starvation, fifteen-year-old Victor Flores heads north in an attempt to “cross the wire” from Mexico into the United States so he can find work and send money home. But with no coyote money to pay the smugglers who sneak illegal workers across the border, Victor must struggle to survive as he jumps trains, stows away on trucks, and hikes grueling miles through the Arizona desert. (M)

 

La Linea by Ann Jaramillo

Miguel has dreamed of joining his parents in California since the day they left him behind in Mexico six years ago. On the morning of his fifteenth birthday, Miguel’s wait is over. Or so he thinks. The trip north to the border—la línea—is fraught with dangers. Thieves. Border guards. And a grueling, two-day trek across the desert. It would be hard enough to survive alone. But it’s almost impossible with his tagalong sister in tow. Their money gone and their hopes nearly dashed, Miguel and his sister have no choice but to hop the infamous mata gente as it races toward the border. As they cling to the roof of the speeding train, they hold onto each other, and to their dreams. But they quickly learn that you can’t always count on dreams—even the ones that come true. (M)

 

Heat by Mike Lupica

Michael Arroyo has a pitching arm that throws serious heat. But his firepower is nothing compared to the heat Michael faces in his day-to-day life. Newly orphaned after his father led the family’s escape from Cuba, Michael’s only family is his seventeen-year-old brother Carlos. If Social Services hears of their situation, they will be separated in the foster-care system—or worse, sent back to Cuba. Together, the boys carry on alone, dodging bills and anyone who asks too many questions. But then someone wonders how a twelve-year-old boy could possibly throw with as much power as Michael Arroyo throws. With no way to prove his age, no birth certificate, and no parent to fight for his cause, Michael’s secret world is blown wide open, and he discovers that family can come from the most unexpected sources. (M)

 

Luminous by Dawn Metcalf

As reality slips and time stands still, Consuela finds herself thrust into the world of the Flow. Removed from all she loves into this shifting world overlapping our own, Consuela quickly discovers she has the power to step out of her earthly skin and cloak herself in new ones – skins made from the world around her, crafted from water, fire, air. She is joined by other teens with extraordinary abilities, bound together to safeguard a world they can affect, but where they no longer belong. When murder threatens to undo the Flow, the Watcher charges Consuela and elusive, attractive V to stop the killer. But the psychopath who threatens her new world may also hold the only key to Consuela’s way home. (S)

 

Cuba 15 by Nancy Osa

Violet Paz has just turned 15, a pivotal birthday in the eyes of her Cuban grandmother. Fifteen is the age when a girl enters womanhood, traditionally celebrating the occasion with a quinceañero. But while Violet is half Cuban, she’s also half Polish, and more importantly, she feels 100% American. Except for her zany family’s passion for playing dominoes, smoking cigars, and dancing to Latin music, Violet knows little about Cuban culture, nada about quinces, and only tidbits about the history of Cuba. So when Violet begrudgingly accepts Abuela’s plans for a quinceañero–and as she begins to ask questions about her Cuban roots–cultures and feelings collide. (M, S)

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What Can’t Wait by Ashley Hope Perez

Marisa’s parents came to Houston from Mexico. They work hard, and they expect Marisa to help her familia. An ordinary life – marrying a local guy, working, having babies – ought to be good enough for her. Marisa hears something else from her calc teacher. She should study harder, ace the AP test, and get into engineering school in Austin. Some days, it all seems possible. On others, she’s not even sure what she wants. When her life at home becomes unbearable, Marisa seeks comfort elsewhere – and suddenly neither her best friend nor boyfriend can get through to her. Caught between the expectations of two different worlds, Marisa isn’t sure what she wants – other than a life where she doesn’t end each day thanking God it’s over. But some things just can’t wait… (S)

 

The Secret Story of Sonia Rodriguez by Alan Sitomer

Sonia Rodriguez was born in the United States, but her parents are Mexican immigrants who came to California before she was born. Her father has three Social Security numbers, her mother is pregnant (again), and neither of them speak English. Sonia’s mother spends most of her time in bed, watching soap operas, and letting Sonia clean up after her brothers. Sonia’s father works dutifully to support his family, but he knows that his daughter’s dreams are bigger than making tamales for family get-togethers. When Sonia attempts to put school work before her familia, her mother decides that it’s time for Sonia to visit her grandmother in Mexico to learn “the ways of the old world.” While in Mexico, Sonia spends time with her wise grandmother and her cousin Maria who teach her that while familia is important, the most important thing is to follow your heart. (S)

 

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

Esperanza thought she’d always live with her family on their ranch in Mexico – she’d always have fancy dresses, a beautiful home, & servants. But a sudden tragedy forces Esperanza and Mama to flee to California during the Great Depression, and to settle in a camp for Mexican farm workers. Esperanza isn’t ready for the hard labor, financial struggles, or lack of acceptance she now faces. When their new life is threatened, Esperanza must find a way to rise above her difficult circumstances – Mama’s life and her own depend on it. (M)

 

Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Sammy and Juliana’s Hollywood isn’t the real thing, it’s a barrio in New Mexico. When Juliana, Sammy’s first love, dies, lthough he doesn’t forget her, Sammy’s attention must turn to the present as he moves on through his life. Studious, responsible, but able and willing to stand up to authority when the cause is right, Sammy’s high school days include helping his widowed father care for his younger sister, student protests, the reality of the Vietnam War, friends who fall victim to drugs, and other friends who are banished from the community for being gay. Sammy wonders if he’ll ever fulfill his dream of leaving Hollywood for college. (S)

 

The God Box by Alex Sanchez

High school senior Paul has dated Angie since middle school, and they’re good together. They have a lot of the same interests, like singing in their church choir and being active in Bible club. But when Manuel transfers to their school, Paul has to rethink his life. Manuel is the first openly gay teen anyone in their small town has ever met, and yet he says he’s also a committed Christian. Talking to Manuel makes Paul reconsider thoughts he has kept hidden, and listening to Manuel’s interpretation of Biblical passages on homosexuality causes Paul to reevaluate everything he believed. Manuel’s outspokenness triggers dramatic consequences at school, culminating in a terrifying situation that leads Paul to take a stand. (M, S)

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Honey Blonde Chica by Michele Serros

Evie Gomez is one chill chica. She and her best friend, Raquel, hang with the Flojos, a kick-back crew named for their designer flip-flops. And their habit of doing absolutely nothing. But the return of long-lost amiga mejor Dee Dee wrecks Evie and Raquel’s Flojo flow. A few years in Mexico City have transformed their shy, skinny, brunette Dee Dee into a Sangro nightmare. Dee Dee has reinvented herself as “Dela,” complete with tight designer threads, freaky blue contacts, and that signature blond hair. When Raquel wants precisely nada to do with the new Dela, Evie finds herself caught between two very different friends. At heart, is Evie a Cali-casual Flojo chick, or a sexy Sangro diva? (S)

 

Accidental Love by Gary Soto

It all starts when Marisa picks up the wrong cell phone. When she returns it to Rene, she feels curiously drawn to him. But Marisa and Rene aren’t exactly a match made in heaven. For one thing, Marisa is a chola; she’s a lot of girl, and she’s not ashamed of it. Skinny Rene gangles like a sackful of elbows and wears a calculator on his belt. In other words, he’s a geek. So why can’t Marisa stay away from him? (M, S)

 

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork

Marcelo Sandoval hears music no one else can hear – part of the autism-like impairment no doctor has been able to identify – and he’s always attended a special school where his differences have been protected. But the summer after his junior year, his father demands that Marcelo work in his law firm’s mailroom in order to experience “the real world.” There Marcelo meets Jasmine, his beautiful and surprising coworker, and Wendell, the son of another partner in the firm. He learns about competition and jealousy, anger and desire. But it’s a picture he finds in a file – a picture of a girl with half a face – that truly connects him with the real world: its suffering, its injustice, and what he can do to fight. (S)

 

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco Stork

When Pancho arrives at St. Anthony’s Home, he knows his time there will be short: If his plans succeed, he’ll soon be arrested for the murder of his sister’s killer. But then he’s assigned to help D.Q., whose brain cancer has slowed neither his spirit nor his mouth. D.Q. tells Pancho all about his “Death Warrior’s Manifesto,” which will help him to live out his last days fully – ideally, he says, with the love of the beautiful Marisol. As Pancho tracks down his sister’s murderer, he finds himself falling under the influence of D.Q. and Marisol, who is everything D.Q. said she would be; and he is inexorably drawn to a decision: to honor his sister and her death, or embrace the way of the Death Warrior and choose life. (S)

 

Cubanita by Gabby Triana

Summer just started, and already Isabel Díaz can’t wait to begin her mother-free life at the University of Michigan in August. But until that happens, she’ll be teaching art at Camp Anhinga, same as last year. She starts tomorrow, and Mom is anything but thrilled. Surprise, surprise. If it weren’t for her father, Isabel would never get to experience college away from home. She’d be stuck, taking classes locally, learning to cook and sew the holes in her brother’s underwear on the side, cultivating her domestic skills as a back-up career. Because that’s what a good cubanita does, you know, thinks of nothing but home. Yeah. Okay. (S)

 

The Brothers Torres by Coert Voorhees

Frankie Towers has always looked up to his older brother, Steve. Steve is a popular senior who gets whatever he wants. Frankie, on the other hand, spends his time shooting off fireworks with his best friend, Zach, working at his parents’ restaurant, and obsessing about his longtime crush, Rebecca Sanchez. Then Frankie gets into a fistfight with John Dalton—longtime nemesis of Steve’s, and the richest, preppiest kid in their New Mexican high school. After the fight, Steve takes Frankie under his wing, and Frankie’s social currency begins to rise. The cholos who used to ignore him start to recognize him; he even lands a date to Homecoming with Rebecca. But after another incident with Dalton, Steve is bent on retaliating. Frankie starts to think that his brother is taking this respect thing too far. Soon he’ll have to make a choice between respecting his brother and respecting himself. (S)

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