Culturally diverse books

Books written by Hispanic authors with Hispanic characters


Oren Smith

Photo Illustration

Story by Andrea Loredo, staff writer

Books can take us to many different places and introduce us to many different cultures. They can give an insight into other people’s lives and how differently they live. Authors write about their life experiences. Regardless of the reason, these books were written by Latin American authors to show the ups and downs of some people from Latin America.

Hispanic authors are coming into the spotlight by releasing books that talk about their own culture and their lives through characters that reflect them. They can let people into the life of someone far different from anything that they know, or have experienced. Some books even show the diversity that exists in our school. 

Mexican Whiteboy” by Matt de la Pena

This book follows the life of a Mexican-American boy named Danny. Danny lives in San Diego, close to the border, where he attends a private school. Considering his brown skin, his classmates don’t think twice before judging him. The last thing people would assume is that he didn’t speak Spanish, or that his mother had blonde hair and blue eyes. Danny believes that it is his whiteness that sends his father back to Mexico. He is spending the summer with his dad’s side of the family where he will not only face the demons he refuses to see, but find himself as well. 

With the Fire on High” by Elizabeth Acevedo

Acevedo tells the story of senior Emoni Santiago and how difficult high school can be. With a daughter to care for and her abuela to support, Emoni’s life is full of tough decisions. However, everything changes when she’s in the kitchen. Her magic touch helps her food become something amazing. Sadly, her dream of cooking professionally and making life easier for her and her family are two things that don’t seem to get along. All she can do is turn the fire on and hope for the best. 

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter” by Erika L. Sanchez

The book follows Julia, a Hispanic teenage girl living in Chicago, as she finds a way out of the expectations of her parents, especially after the death of her sister, Olga. Julia is not only discovering herself and the person she wants to be, but also the secrets that her sister hid before her death.  

The Grief Keeper” by Alexandra Villasante

Marisol wants to live the American dream that she has always seen on TV, but she never thought about the difficulties that would come along with it. When she is crossing the border as an “illegal”, her brother is murdered and her younger sister’s life is at jeopardy. She has a feeling that leaving El Salvador may have not been the greatest idea. While crossing, she is captured, and the only way to stay in the United States is by becoming a grief keeper, a person who takes other people’s grief as their own. It’s a risky thing, but she is willing to do anything to keep her sister safe. 

Call Me Henri” by Lorraine Lopez 

Enrique lives in el barrio. Living in the dangerous el barrio, a Hispanic neighborhood in his city, is not the best place when you are trying to run away from the other dangers inside your home. That only drives Enrique’s desire to join the America that he sees on TV. Enrique becomes a witness of his friend, Horacio, being killed by gang members, and soon, it’s Enrique who must escape the gang members and the assailant who want him dead.   

The Girl from Playa Blanca” by Ofelia Dumas Lachtman 

In search of their father, Elena and her little brother Carlos travel from their seaside village in Mexico to Los Angeles where he went to work in order to provide for them. That’s the same place that he mysteriously disappeared from, and the same place where other immigrants go to and try to make a living. With her well developed English skills, Elena is hired by a Mexican-American family and is now able to provide for Carlos and get a start to finding her father. 

The Tequila Worm” by Viola Canales

This book tells the life of Sofia and her life living in el barrio of McAllen, TX. She tells stories about magical moments that happen in el barrio, including the many strange traditions that go along with her Hispanic life. When Sofia is accepted into an elite boarding school in the world of the rich and privileged, the strange traditions of her family may start to make sense. 

All books have a different view on life. Some are written to show how different life can be for people who are culturally diverse. They tell part of someone’s life. Some are written to tell stories of a culture, and to give people a glimpse into something different.