What YA’ Reading: Hispanic Heritage Month

In the U.S. National Hispanic Heritage Month is Sept 15 – Oct 15. The significance of the 15th is that Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua all recognize September 15th as the date of their independence. Mexico celebrates its independence on Sept 16 and Chile on Sept 18. In 2020, 62 million people identified as Hispanic or Latino. In 2019 more than 15 percent of Topekans identified as Hispanic or Latino.

I’m highlighting a few excellent and recent YA books with Hispanic main characters written by Hispanic authors. Also check out my extended list of titles at the end of this article.

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré

Losing a parent, especially unexpectedly, is life altering. Camino and Yahaira learn this in the worst way. However, their father’s death is just the beginning. Camino lives in the Dominican Republic and only sees her father during his visits home in the summer. Yahaira lives in New York City and idolizes her father. Neither girl knew about the other one until their father passed and his secrets were exposed. 

Clap When You Land is tender, patient and raw. It explores the depths of losing someone integral to your life in an unexpected way and the immovable feeling that accompanies it. Their father’s secrets also add a complicated layer of forgiveness and pain. This novel has an almost musical element to its story. It also explores identity, belonging, marginalized communities, stalking and assault.

We Set The Dark On Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

37868569. sy475 Daniela Vargas attends the Medio School for Girls where upper crust young women specialize in learning to raise their husbands’ children or run his household. High society men have two wives to separate their duties. The wives live in luxury and are kept from the political unrest that plagues the lower classes.

Daniela is the top of her class and gets picked by one of the best families. Unfortunately her nemesis is picked by the same family. Daniela has a huge secret that could unravel her parents’ years of work and planning. She must work to keep this secret from her husband and his other wife.

We Set The Dark On Fire is a scifi YA book that explores gender roles in a Latinx-Dystopian world. The author incorporates LGBTQ relationships, undercover agents, polygamy and so much more into a world that feels just barely removed from our own.

Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez

Camila Hassan lives a double life in Argentina. At home she navigates an abusive father, stern mother and perfect brother. On the soccer field she’s a star with a passion for fútbol and an opportunity to get an athletic scholarship in North America. 

She can’t tell her family about her talents because they would never support a girl playing fútbol. To further complicate matters, the boy she loved is back in town after becoming a sensation in Italy. Camila’s desperately trying to make all the pieces fall into place without getting distracted by love.

This book is more than just a story about a girl wanting to play fútbol. It explores feminism, oppression, economic hardship and the sounds, sights and smells of Argentina.

View complete list

Rachael is always listening to an audiobook or a podcast, usually while doing a mountain of housework that comes with having a young kid. Her favorite genres include historical fiction, young adult fantasy and historical romances. In her off time she enjoys hand lettering, using power tools and watching heavy metal rock concerts with her husband. She purchases the young adult and juvenile fiction for the library.