National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 to October 15) celebrates the heritage and culture of Hispanic and Latino Americans. September 15th is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico, Chile and Belize also celebrate their independence days during this month.The term Hispanic or Latino refers to Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race.
To commemorate this month, here are some of the recent and forthcoming YA books either written by, or about, Hispanic and Latino fictional or real characters. More can be found on YALSA's The Hub blog.
The Living and The Hunted by Matt De La Pena
Matt De La Peña’s The Hunted (published in May) is the sequel to the 2014 Pura Belpre Honor winner The Living (2014 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults). A tsunami has sunk the cruise ship Mexican-American teen Shy Espinoza was working on for the summer. He and teens Marcus and Carmen and their adult guide Shoeshine have survived the sinking ship; escaped an island harboring a deadly secret and survived over a month at sea. They have discovered that some of the passengers were working for an evil biotech company responsible for a deadly contagion ravaging Southern California. In an area of California patrolled by rival gangs, the dead and dying, and those desperate to survive, they struggle to make it to the nearest operating laboratory in Arizona. By bringing the chemical formula and samples of the vaccine there, they hope scientists will be able to duplicate the vaccine samples and save the population.
Becoming Maria by Sonia Manzano
Sonia Manzano, beloved Sesame Street star and 2013 Pura Belpre Honor winner for The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano, recently published her memoir, Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx. In it she recounts her life growing up in the 50s and 60 in the Bronx living with her large, noisy and often troubled extended Puerto Rican family. She seeks release in daydreaming of a better life to avoid the reality of living with an often abusive and alcoholic father and to escape her less than ideal living conditions. Mixed in with the darker moments are a lot of lighter ones filled with warmth and humor that show how all of these experiences shaped her life and who she would later become.
Dream Things True by Marie Marquardt
The recent September release of Marie Marquardt’s Dream Things True is about two teens – Evan and Alma – who live world’s apart in the same Georgia town. Evan’s from a wealthy, but dysfunctional family. Alma’s from a large Mexican family that has lived there since she was very young. They both want out. His way out is through soccer and her’s is through academic success. They meet and fall in love but then Immigration and Customs Enforcement comes. Alma knows that she needs to share her secret with Evan that she and almost everyone she’s close to are undocumented immigrants. Theirs is a bittersweet love story against a backdrop of US-Mexican immigration policies. (Marie E. Andreu’s 2014 book The Secret Side of Empty also explores the story of an undocumented teen whose family is from Argentina.)