September 15 to October 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month. Started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson, it was later expanded to a full month under President Ronald Reagan in 1988. The period also coincides with independence anniversary celebrations in several Latin American countries.
We wanted to take the opportunity to draw attention to seven titles for young adults by Latinx authors that readers will want to dive into all year long. The books we’ve chosen all feature elements of fantasy, science fiction or magical realism. They are part of a collection of books the Cedar Rapids Public Library has taken to the Linn County Juvenile Detention Center for our Be Heard series, which seeks to elevate voices of incarcerated youth through book discussion and a podcast series. Episodes of Be Heard are available on our YouTube and Facebook pages.
They Both Die At the End, by Adam Silvera
What would you do if you knew you only had one day to live? In a future version of New York City, a service called Death-Cast calls two teenagers, Mateo and Rufus, to tell them just that. The two meet using the Last Friend app and set out to live as much as they can, together, on their End Day.
Gods of Jade and Shadow, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
In this Jazz Age tale inspired by Mexican folklore, Casiopea Tun dreams of a different life than one cleaning her wealthy grandfather’s house in a small town in southern Mexico. Then she opens a wooden box in her grandfather’s room and sets free the spirit of the Mayan god of death. Soon she’s on a quest to help him reclaim his throne from his brother, a cross-country adventure from the jungles of the Yucatan to Mexico City – and into the Mayan underworld itself.
Cemetery Boys, by Aiden Thomas
Yadriel is struggling to get his family to accept he is a trans boy, so he sets out to prove he is a brujo – not a bruja – by summoning a ghost – in this case the angry spirit of his school’s bad boy Julian Diaz. Julian isn’t ready to go quietly, however, and the longer he stays, the less Yadriel wants him to leave.
Never Look Back, by Lilliam Rivera
This magical realism-laced modern retelling of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice features Eury, who is haunted by Hurricane Maria – and by an evil spirit, Ato, which followed her from Puerto Rico to her new home in the Bronx. Pheus is the charming singer who expects to spending the summer on the beach – until he meets Eury. Can their love overcome the demons of the past?
Shadowshaper, by Daniel José Older
When Brooklyn teen Sierra Santiago discovers her Puerto Rican family are part of a supernatural order called shadowshapers, can she harness her own powers in time to stop the murderous anthropologist targeting her family and friends in an attempt to monopolize their powers?
Labyrinth Lost, by Zoraida Cordova
Alex doesn’t want to be a bruja, despite her family’s excitement for her to follow in their magical footsteps. So she performs a ritual to get rid of her powers … and it backfires, with her family vanishing. To get them back, she must travel to the strange and dark world of Los Lagos. This is the first book in the Brooklyn Brujas trilogy.
Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything, by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland
Three years after ICE raids and her mother’s disappearance, Sia Martinez knows her mother must be dead. Still, she drives into the Sonoran desert each month to light candles she hopes will guide her mother home. And then the spacecraft crashes in front of her car – and her mom is on board. Can she save her from the armed, quite-possibly-alien soldiers?