5 Must-Read #OwnVoices Books by Latinx Authors to Read Now

September 16 2020

Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month and commemorate the importance of diversity and Own Voices with five beautiful books by Latinx authors. These books highlight and recognize the different histories and cultures of Hispanic and Latin American countries with enchanting narratives.

A Dream Called Home
by Reyna Grande

In this memoir, a follow-up to her previous THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US, Reyna Grande takes on a journey after she comes to live in America and encounters setbacks and triumphs along the way in search of an education. Told in moving prose, Reyna demonstrates a tenacious and resolute determination for creating the life she always dreamt up using the power of words. Starting with her rocky college days at the University of California, Santa Cruz, to the way she became a single mother and how she became a published author, it’s a young immigrant’s remarkable, inspirational, and candid story of resilience and self-discovery.

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A Dream Called Home
Reyna Grande

From bestselling author of the remarkable memoir, The Distance Between Us comes an inspiring account of one woman’s quest to find her place in America as a first-generation Latina university student and aspiring writer determined to build a new life for her family one fearless word at a time.Here is a life story so unbelievable, it could only be true” (Sandra Cisneros, bestselling author of The House on Mango Street).

As an immigrant in an unfamiliar country, with an indifferent mother and abusive father, Reyna had few resources at her disposal. Taking refuge in words, Reyna’s love of reading and writing propels her to rise above until she achieves the impossible and is accepted to the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Although her acceptance is a triumph, the actual experience of American college life is intimidating and unfamiliar for someone like Reyna, who is now estranged from her family and support system. Again, she finds solace in words, holding fast to her vision of becoming a writer, only to discover she knows nothing about what it takes to make a career out of a dream.

Through it all, Reyna is determined to make the impossible possible, going from undocumented immigrant of little means to “a fierce, smart, shimmering light of a writer” (Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild); a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist whose “power is growing with every book” (Luis Alberto Urrea, Pultizer Prize finalist); and a proud mother of two beautiful children who will never have to know the pain of poverty and neglect.

Told in Reyna’s exquisite, heartfelt prose, A Dream Called Home demonstrates how, by daring to pursue her dreams, Reyna was able to build the one thing she had always longed for: a home that would endure.

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Make Your Home Among Strangers
by Jennine Capó Crucet

After Lizet, the daughter of Cuban immigrants and the first in her family to graduate from high school, secretly applies and is accepted to an ultra-elite college very far from her home in Miami, her parents are furious at her decision to go. At her new school, she struggles with extreme shock and starts to fail academically. As she makes a surprise trip to see her family for Thanksgiving, the nation is staring at Miami as it faces an immigration scandal when Ariel Hernandez, a young boy whose mother died fleeing with him from Cuba, is found on a raft. Lizet’s family gets embroiled in the case and she finds herself torn by conflicting cultural, generational, and political forces as she starts to learn who she is and what she believes in. Written with an intimate knowledge of Miami during the real-life Elian Gonzalez saga of the early 1990s by an author who lived and grew up there during the time, this book perfectly captures the nuances of a city with its own rules, customs, and vibrant dialogue to create an exciting and perennially timely coming-of-age story.

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Make Your Home Among Strangers
Jennine Capó Crucet

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Dominicana
by Angie Cruz

Ana Canción is fifteen years old when she meets Juan Ruiz in the Dominican countryside, where he proposes and promises to take her to New York City. Not worried that he is twice her age or that they are not in love, Ana says yes. She quickly becomes distraught with her arrangement and plans an escape but is thwarted when Juan’s brother Caesar stops her and convinces her to stay. Soon Juan must return to the Dominican Republic and Ana takes full advantage of her new-found freedom. There’s such joy when Ana gets to explore New York City in 1965, as the city gives her the energy to create her own identity. This is a funny and poignant novel that shows us how we can build ourselves and own our future.

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The Book of Unknown Americans
by Cristina Henríquez

After Arturo and Alma Rivera’s daughter, Maribel, gets in a terrible accident, they decide to leave their beloved Mexico behind and come to America to get better resources for her care. Making their home in Delaware, Mayor Toro, whose family is from Panama, sees Maribel in a neighborhood store and instantly falls in love. As they start to get closer, so do to their families. Woven into Mayor’s and Maribel’s story are the testimonials of the other men and women who have come to the United States from all over Latin America who live together in the same apartment building. We get glimpses into different journeys and experiences to create a complex and profound narrative of the sacrifices and struggles faced by immigrants. These pages show a microcosm of what it takes for many to achieve a new American Dream with all its heartbreaks and celebration.

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The Book of Unknown Americans
Cristina Henríquez

THE BOOK OF UNKNOWN AMERICANS centers around the Rivera family as they journey to America from Mexico after their daughter, Maribel, is injured and in need of care. Once they arrive, Maribel attracts the attention (and affection) of one of their new neighbors. The love story that follows, intertwined with the stories of men and women who have come to the United States from all over Latin America, has profound repercussions for everyone involved.

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Fruit of the Drunken Tree
by Ingrid Rojas Contreras

Told in alternating perspectives, this book set in Bogota links two very different girls both trying to survive the same harsh world. Nine-year-old Chula lives in a gated community safe from the civil unrest of the city while her live-in-maid, Petrona, a thirteen-year-old, lives through the conflict daily. Caught between gang crossfire, bombings, and assassinations, Petrona is challenged and faced with a difficult decision to make at the behest of the Guerrillas. Partially based on Ingrid Rojas Contreras’s real-life story, the authenticity and grittiness pour from every page as these two girls develop an unbreakable bond to show the power of friendship and family in the face of unending uncertainty and constant terror.

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Fruit of the Drunken Tree
Ingrid Rojas Contreras

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