By Mirna Palacio Ornelas
Hispanic-Latinx Heritage Month has just started and what better way is there to start this month of reflection than with a heavy dose of guilt?
Please don’t sweat it, though, you’ve got a whole month! Let’s use this as a moment of expansion, and we can help keep each other accountable. Form an impromptu book club: chat it up with some friends with snacks and drinks and talk through these kick-ass books. Ask me if I’ve made any progress …
Here are seven books to either add to your lists or keep on your radar, all of which I have yet to read as well.
As you can see from the cover, this book has won the Michael Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature, Stonewall Book Award, Pura Belpré Award, and a Lambda Literary Award. Benjamin Alire Sáenz himself is a Pen/Faulkner Award winning author. The main characters in this book, Dante and Aristotle, come across as the greatest romantic coupling: Tired and Wired. It’s a love story, folks. LGBTQ+ YA of color.
2. Bruja by Wendy C. Ortiz. 2016, CCM.
This is Ortiz’ second book, also a memoir/dreamoir. It’s got memories, it’s got living with trauma, it’s got genre-bending narrative. The book’s chapters are separated by months, in which you are submerged into that weird space that rises as when a friend tries to tell you a dream. If you haven’t read Ortiz’ first book, Excavation, you should look into that as well.
3. Cenote City by Monique Quintana. 2018, CLASH Books.
As shallow as I am, the cover is what first drew me to this book. That said, though, props to the designers for creating something so eye catching! This book bears the label of “magical realism”: A woman lives in a constant state of filling a pit with her tears. Sounds like myth-making to me and I am all about it.
4. Corazon by Yesika Salgado. 2017, Not a Cult.
I first heard about this book on Twitter. Salgado has a big Twitter presence, firin’ off some of the most relatable and healing tweets we’re currently receiving. She’s a Salvadoran poet, a member of Da Poetry Lounge Slam Team, and co-founder of Chingona Fire (Google it). I’m ready for this book to read me.
5. Itzá by Rios de la Luz. 2017, Broken River Books.
This is de la Luz’ debut novela! This fantasy book takes place near the U.S.-Mexico border, where water witches explore womanhood, blood, and the frontera lifestyle. Broken River Books is based in El Paso, TX, and that feels like a really good sign to me.
6. Museum of the Americas by J. Michael Martinez. 2018, Penguin Random House.
This book, which is Martinez’ third poetry collection, was longlisted for the 2018 National Book Award in Poetry, and the winner of the National Poetry Series Competition, selected by Cornelius Eady. Heavy in its exploration of colonialism, historical consequences, and family lineage, this collection takes on the challenge of aesthetic creation.
7. Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older. 2016, Scholastic Inc.
This is just the first book of the series, and this one I also heard about on Twitter. Older is very active on Twitter, informing us about his process and writing bloopers. If you happen to have already read this (and are not guilty of having it stare at you longingly from a bookshelf like I currently am) catch up on the series!
8. With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo. 201, Harper Teen.
National Hispanic-Latinx Heritage Month for 2019 is from Sep.t 15 to Oct. 15.