Wednesday, April 27, 2016

5 Historical Fiction Novels for Latino Teens


I'm delighted today to share some wonderful titles specifically for Latino teens. These historical fiction novels reveal the good, the bad, and the ugly. The writing is incredible and all of them are prize-worthy works.

Note: The following titles are written for teens and adults. They may contain adult language and situations. Parents are advised to read the books themselves first before sharing with their children. This post uses affiliate links.


Playing for the Devil's Fire
by Phillippe Diederich

A grim and violent depiction of the terror the drug cartel wreaks on communities, Playing for the Devil's Fire is a fictional account of one boy's valiant attempt to save his town.

Thirteen-year-old Boli and his friends are deep in the middle of a game of marbles. An older boy named Mosca has won the prized Devil's Fire marble. His pals are jealous and want to win it away from him. This is Izayoc, the place of tears, a small pueblo in a tiny valley west of Mexico City where nothing much happens. It's a typical hot Sunday morning except that on the way to church, someone discovers the severed head of Enrique Quintanilla propped on the ledge of one of the cement planters in the plaza and everything changes. Not apocalyptic changes, like phalanxes of men riding on horses with stingers for tails, but subtle ones: poor neighbors turning up with brand-new SUVs, pimpled teens with fancy girls hanging off them. Boli's parents leave for Toluca and don't arrive at their destination. No one will talk about it. A washed out masked wrestler turns up one day, a man only interested in finding his next meal. Boli hopes to inspire the luchador to set out with him to find his parents.


Burn Baby Burn
by Meg Medina

Burn Baby Burn is a coming-of-age story of a young woman who must face the turbulence in her city and her own home.

Nora Lopez is seventeen during the infamous New York summer of 1977 when the city is besieged by arson, a massive blackout, and a serial killer named Son of Sam who shoots young women on the streets. Nora’s family life isn’t going so well either: her bullying brother, Hector, is growing more threatening by the day, her mother is helpless and falling behind on the rent, and her father calls only on holidays. All Nora wants is to turn eighteen and be on her own. And while there is a cute new guy who started working with her at the deli, is dating even worth the risk when the killer likes picking off couples who stay out too late? Award-winning author Meg Medina transports us to a time when New York seemed balanced on a knife-edge, with tempers and temperatures running high, to share the story of a young woman who discovers that the greatest dangers are often closer than we like to admit — and the hardest to accept.


Out of Darkness
by Ashley Hope Perez

The ill-fated love affair between two teens of different races in a town and a time when segregation rules, Out of Darkness is a powerful story.

New London, Texas. 1937. Naomi Vargas and Wash Fuller know about the lines in East Texas as well as anyone. They know the signs that mark them. They know the people who enforce them. But sometimes the attraction between two people is so powerful it breaks through even the most entrenched color lines. And the consequences can be explosive.

Ashley Hope Pérez takes the facts of the 1937 New London school explosion the worst school disaster in American history as a backdrop for a riveting novel about segregation, love, family, and the forces that destroy people.


Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir
by Margarita Engle

Based on the author's own childhood, Enchanted Air is the personal memoir written in verse of poet and author Margarita Engle.

Margarita is a girl from two worlds. Her heart lies in Cuba, her mother’s tropical island country, a place so lush with vibrant life that it seems like a fairy tale kingdom. But most of the time she lives in Los Angeles, lonely in the noisy city and dreaming of the summers when she can take a plane through the enchanted air to her beloved island. Words and images are her constant companions, friendly and comforting when the children at school are not.

Then a revolution breaks out in Cuba. Margarita fears for her far-away family. When the hostility between Cuba and the United States erupts at the Bay of Pigs Invasion, Margarita’s worlds collide in the worst way possible. How can the two countries she loves hate each other so much? And will she ever get to visit her beautiful island again?


This River Here: Poems of San Antonio
by Carmen Tafolla

Sprinkled with heirloom photos, This River Here is a collection of poems sprinkled with Spanish words and filled with vivid imagery to give detailed accounts of Tafolla's family and town history.

San Antonio poet laureate Carmen Tafolla captures her hometown—the city of her ancestors for the past three centuries—in poems that celebrate its history as a cosmopolitan multilingual cultural crossroads. Discover San Antonio’s corazón in Tafolla’s poetry, accompanied by historic and contemporary photographs that convey its enduring sense of place. A century ago, San Antonio gave Oscar Wilde “a thrill of strange pleasure.” J. Frank Dobie claimed that “every Texan has two hometowns—his own and San Antonio,” and Will Rogers declared it to be “one of the three unique cities of America.” To Larry McMurtry, “San Antonio has kept an ambiance that all the rest of our cities lack.” Carmen Tafolla calls forth the soul of this place—the holy home of the waters, called Yanaguana by los indios—and celebrates the many cultures that have made of it “un rebozo bordado de culturas y colores.”

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