Happy Latinx Heritage Month, friends! Today on the blog I am going to be talking about some of the first books by Latinx authors that made me feel seen. I have read a lot of books by Latinx authors over the years, but I want to spotlight the first books by Latinx authors I came across as a blogger. These are the books that sparked a need in me and are basically the reason why I continue to seek out and highlight books by Latinx authors on this blog.
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First Books by Latinx Authors That Made Me Feel Seen:
I believe Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia by Jenny Torres Sanchez was one of first books by a Latinx author I reviewed on my blog way back in 2015. This is one of the first times I saw a Latinx protagonist in YA fiction and it made me thirst for more. It’s one of the reasons I started seeking out more books by Latinx authors and I will be forever grateful for coming across it.
“Frenchie Garcia can’t come to grips with the death of Andy Cooper. Her friends didn’t know she had a crush him. And they don’t know she was the last person with him before he committed suicide. But Frenchie’s biggest concern is how she blindly helped him die that night.
Frenchie’s already insane obsession with death and Emily Dickinson won’t help her understand the role she played during Andy’s “one night of adventure.” But when she meets Colin, she may have found the perfect opportunity to recreate that night. While exploring the emotional depth of loss and transition to adulthood, Sanchez’s sharp humor and clever observations bring forth a richly developed voice.”
The Summer of the Mariposas by Guadapule Garcia McCall was the first book I read as a blogger that featured Mexican-American characters. It was also one of my first introductions to magical realism and I am still hoping we get more YA magical realism novels as they are still pretty rare.
“When Odilia and her four sisters find a dead body in the swimming hole, they embark on a hero’s journey to return the dead man to his family in Mexico. But returning home to Texas turns into an odyssey that would rival Homer’s original tale.
With the supernatural aid of ghostly La Llorona via a magical earring, Odilia and her little sisters travel a road of tribulation to their long-lost grandmother’s house. Along the way, they must outsmart a witch and her Evil Trinity: a wily warlock, a coven of vicious half-human barn owls, and a bloodthirsty livestock-hunting chupacabras. Can these fantastic trials prepare Odilia and her sisters for what happens when they face their final test, returning home to the real world, where goddesses and ghosts can no longer help them?
Summer of the Mariposas is not just a magical Mexican American retelling of The Odyssey, it is a celebration of sisterhood and maternal love.”
The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore was my first novel by the author and I have preordered and loved every single one of their books ever since. If Summer of the Mariposas was my intro to YA magical realism than this book is the reason I fell head first in love with the genre. While not a mermaid myself (I wish), I related so much to Lace Paloma and her family.
“The Palomas and the Corbeaus have long been rivals and enemies, locked in an escalating feud for more than a generation. Both families make their living as traveling performers in competing shows—the Palomas swimming in mermaid exhibitions, the Corbeaus, former tightrope walkers, performing in the tallest trees they can find.
Lace Paloma may be new to her family’s show, but she knows as well as anyone that the Corbeaus are pure magia negra, black magic from the devil himself. Simply touching one could mean death, and she’s been taught since birth to keep away. But when disaster strikes the small town where both families are performing, it’s a Corbeau boy, Cluck, who saves Lace’s life. And his touch immerses her in the world of the Corbeaus, where falling for him could turn his own family against him, and one misstep can be just as dangerous on the ground as it is in the trees.
Beautifully written, and richly imaginative, The Weight of Feathers is an utterly captivating young adult novel by a talented new voice.”
The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork deals with a lot of heavy topics. It’s the first book where I saw Latinx characters were dealing with mental illness. Those in the community know what a taboo subject it can be and I will be forever grateful for this book helping to break down the stigma in the Latinx community. Also, the food. I remember the Mexican food in this one so vividly.
“16-year-old Vicky Cruz wakes up in a hospital’s mental ward after a failed suicide attempt. Now she must find a path to recovery – and perhaps rescue some others along the way.
When Vicky Cruz wakes up in the Lakeview Hospital Mental Disorders ward, she knows one thing: After her suicide attempt, she shouldn’t be alive. But then she meets Mona, the live wire; Gabriel, the saint; E.M., always angry; and Dr. Desai, a quiet force. With stories and honesty, kindness and hard work, they push her to reconsider her life before Lakeview, and offer her an acceptance she’s never had.
But Vicky’s newfound peace is as fragile as the roses that grow around the hospital. And when a crisis forces the group to split up, sending Vick back to the life that drove her to suicide, she must try to find her own courage and strength. She may not have them. She doesn’t know.
Inspired in part by the author’s own experience with depression, The Memory of Light is the rare young adult novel that focuses not on the events leading up to a suicide attempt, but the recovery from one – about living when life doesn’t seem worth it, and how we go on anyway.”
I still remember how much I wanted to win an ARC of Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova during a Armchair BEA event. I had always been a fan of witches and it wasn’t until I read this one and the entire Brooklyn Brujas series that I realized how much I craved Latinx witches in fiction. I will never tire of them. This was also the first time I saw Latinx characters in a fantasy setting and my need for more is insatiable.
“Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.
Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.
The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…”
What was your first read by a Latinx author as a blogger? If you are Latinx, what was the first book by a Latinx author that you saw yourself in?