23 Sep YA Novels for National Hispanic Heritage Month
National Hispanic Heritage Month
Every year, National Hispanic Heritage Month (Mes de la Herencia Hispana) takes place from September 15 – October 15. The term Hispanic is complex, but usually refers to a person or country with ties to Spain, including the eighteen nations and the U.S. territory Puerto Rico that make up Hispanic America. The holiday has more to do with Hispanic-Americans than any other group, but sometimes is expanded to celebrate all peoples of Latin American ancestry.
The month is shared by dates in two months because numerous important dates fall into the time window. Many Hispanic people celebrate independence from colonialism in the month of September. Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua observe independence on September 15th. Mexican independence is on September 16th and Chilean independence on September 18th.
Another important date is Columbus Day on October 12th, when Columbus and his crew arrived in the Americas in 1492, as it represents the beginning of Spanish colonialism in the Americas and the intercultural exchange that led to the Hispanic people. In Spanish speaking nations, the holiday goes by a variety of names including Día de la Raza (Day of the Race), Día del Respeto a la Diversidad Cultural (Day of Respect of Cultural Diversity), El día de la Raza y de la Hispanidad (Day of the Race and Hispanicity), Día de la Resistencia Indígena (Day of Indigenous Resistance), Día de los pueblos originarios y el diálogo intercultural (Indigenous Peoples and Intercultural Dialogue Day), Día del Encuentro de las Culturas (Day of the Encounter of Cultures), and Día de las Américas (Day of the Americas).
To celebrate the diversity of Hispanic heritage, check out one of the following titles written by a Hispanic author. There are many other titles by Hispanic authors, so come visit Teen Central this month!
Elizabeth Acevedo, Clap When You Land (2020)
A novel in verse about two girls in different countries discovering they are half-sisters when their father dies in a plane crash. If you liked Acevedo’s previous novel-in-verse, The Poet X, consider picking up this title.
Erika L. Sanchez, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter (2017)
Julia’s sister, Olga, was the ideal daughter. When an accident results in Olga’s death, her mother grieves by pointing out all the ways Julia is not a perfect daughter. She wants to get an education rather than stay with her family, and does not fit perfectly in her culture. But as a result of her choices, Julia may discover that Olga was herself not a perfect Mexican daughter.
Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (2012)
The novel is a love story between two loners who meet at a swimming pool. Aristotle has a brother in prison and Dante is a know-it-all. At first they appear to be too different to have a friendship, but as time goes on they begin to grow closer. The novel deals with topics of racial and ethnic identity, family dynamics, and love. A sequel is forthcoming.
Jenny Torres Sanchez, We Are Not From Here (2020)
Pulga, Chico, and Pequeña are three teens living in Guatemala. When their lives are threatened they cross into Mexico on their way to the US border. They follow the dangerous route of La Bestia, a system of trains, without many resources.
Anna-Marie McLemore, Dark and Deepest Red (2020)
Inspired by Hans Christen Anderson’s “The Red Shoes” and the real-life dancing plague of 1518, Dark and Deepest Red tells two stories. In 1518, as the dancing plague causes young women to dance themselves to death, Lavinia and her family become the focus of suspicion. 500 years later a dancer Rosella Oliva finds her feet sealed by red shoes that make her dance. Her only hope of survival is finding the descendant of Lavinia’s family to uncover the truth behind the dancing plague.
Zoraida Cordova, Incendiary (2020)
The first novel in the Hollow Crown series, Incendiary tells the story of Renata Convida. As a child with magical abilities, she was kidnapped by a kingdom to steal the memories of the king’s enemies. When Renata grows up she is freed by and becomes a member of a rebel spy network known as the Whispers. The kingdom kidnaps the commander of the Whispers. As a result, she goes to the palace to rescue him. Read the book to see if she successfully embeds herself in the royal court to complete her secret mission.
Romina Garber, Lobizona (2020)
Inspired by Argentine folklore, Lobizona is about Manuela Azul who is running away from her father’s crime-family. She is an undocumented immigrant living in Miami. After ICE arrests her mother, Manuela must investigate her past to solve her problems. All of which leads to fantasy elements about witches and werewolves. The first book in a planned series, Lobizona tackles a contemporary immigrant story with a sprinkling of magic realism.