Latin America has an incredibly rich history of writing and storytelling—and Latinx and Latinx-American authors have been writing some of the most influential and beautiful novels and stories of our time, from literary fiction and short stories to romance, thrillers, and YA.
There are so many wonderful, compelling reads—but alas, you have to start somewhere. Those looking for a timeless classic might want to begin with The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende, while someone looking for a new swoony romance can start with Kiss Me, Catalina by Priscilla Oliveras. If you want to better understand the immigrant experience? Try Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia and Angie Cruz’s Domincana.
This list highlights just a few of Scary Mommy Book Club’s favorite reads from our favorite writers, attempting to hit upon the most notable Latinx authors and works from the widest range of cultures, eras, and locations. Enjoy!
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Kiss Me, Catalina by Priscilla Oliveras
The Capuleta family saga continues in author Priscilla Oliveras’s forthcoming love story between mariachi tourmates Catalina “Cat” and Patricio Galán. Sure, they get on each other’s nerves; but that isn’t enough to suppress the passion and heat they feel around each other. Will their seven-week tour be the perfect recipe for a breakup ballad or an epic love song?
You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria
With both of their careers teetering on the brink of stardom or death, on-screen love interests Jasmine and Ashton need their upcoming bilingual romantic comedy to be a smashing success. To hone their craft, they agree to run lines after hours; but private rehearsals lead to an off-camera romance neither of them saw coming — thus, threatening to expose Ashton’s big secret and Jasmine’s carefully crafted public image.
Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitil Gonzalez
This impeccable novel takes place amid Puerto Rico’s most catastrophic hurricane to date, and follows siblings Olga and Pedro “Prieto” Acevedo as they confront an estranged family member, their bustling careers, and complex love lives, all while being leaders in their gentrifying Latinx neighborhood in Brooklyn.
L.A. Weather by María Amparo Escandón
With her husband’s career stealing all the energy and attention of their marriage, Keila Alvarado announces she wants a divorce in the thick of fire season. Now, their three adult daughters are feeling blindsided and utterly confused by their parents' once seemingly “perfect” marriage, and consequently, how that’s reflected in their own personal relationships. The earth is arid, wicked winds are afoot, and impending evacuations will stir the Alvarados’ long buried secrets and lies to the surface.
Dominicana by Angie Cruz
In an attempt to give her family a better life, 15-year-old Ana Cancion marries Juan Ruiz — whom she does not love and is twice her age — in return for a life in America and the promise that her family would soon follow. In New York, Ana realizes this is not the American dream she once wished for and tries to escape only to get caught by Cesar, the younger and more friendlier of the Ruiz brothers. When Juan is called back to the Dominican Republic, Ana finds a profound freedom and independence with Cesar. Juan’s impending return causes Ana to reevaluate the responsibilities she has not only to her family, but herself, as well.
The Neapolitan Sisters by Margo Candela
Told in alternating POVs, author Margo Candela spins a captivating tale of a sister trio who reunite as adults after battling a traumatic childhood that left them to develop their own vices, some not so good as others. Despite the years they spent apart, the Bernal sisters are still a close knit bunch; but being back at their parents’ East L.A. home kicks up past memories they weren’t eager to uncover.
The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez
Kristen may have just met the man of her dreams, and bonus points because he’s the best man in her best friend’s wedding! They bond over their shared love for the bride and groom, dogs, and chicken enchiladas; but Kristen is left breathless after Josh shares he hopes to have a big family one day. In the chaos of wedding planning, Kristen learns she must undergo a medical procedure and as a result, she won’t be able to have children.
What’s Mine and Yours by Naima Coster
Told over the course of 20 years, spanning from sea to shining sea, this sweeping tale follows two families whose paths collide following a county initiative to combine students from a predominantly Black neighborhood into white dominated high schools on the west side of town. Half-Latina, Noelle has been instructed by her mother to embrace her whiteness. While working on the school play, she befriends Gee, a Black student from the east side of town. The ways in which their respective parents and classmates view their bond will affect them for years to come.
Everyone Knows You Go Home by Natalia Sylvester
Since her wedding day, Isabel has received a visit from the spirit of her husband’s estranged father, Omar. Every year on the Day of the Dead, Omar recounts tales of his upbringing, disappearance, and Martin’s childhood hoping it’s enough to persuade Isabel and consequently, his son and wife, that he’s deserving of forgiveness. It’s not until a relative from Mexico takes refuge in their home that Martin begins to chip away at his resistance to move on from his father’s grievances.
The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Córdova
This is rich, beautiful magical realism at its best. Orquídea Divina is dying, and she has something to give to her surviving family members. But while her secrets bring blessings, they also bring darkness and danger. This generational drama, which manages to be both breathtaking and funny, toggles between Orquídea’s amazing life and the lives of her descendants as they try to uncover the past.
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
Isabel Allende is a powerhouse in the world of 20th century literature and her books, which have been translated into 35 languages, have touched the hearts of millions of people around the world. The House of Spirits is required reading for anyone interested in Latinx literature—or any book nerd at all. Following the Trueba family through several generations, the epic tale captures the human experience (and a bit of magic) in a way that’s truly unique among stories and storytellers.
Velvet Was The Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
From the acclaimed author of Mexican Gothic and The Beautiful Ones comes a new tale that will keep you up at night turning pages. In Velvet Was The Night, Silvia Moreno-Garcia shifts gears away from the horror genre and into pulp noir—where we find ourselves in gritty 1970s Mexico City and several unconnected parties are searching for the same missing woman.
Cantoras by Carolina De Robertis
One of the most notable books of 2019, Cantoras by Carolina De Robertis follows five women through the military rule in Uruguay during the 1970s and beyond. A novel about resilience, queer love, and finding your own family, this story will lift you up and stay with you for a very long time.
The Grief Keeper by Alexandra Villasante
This speculative YA novel centers on the story of Marisol, a teen growing up in El Salvador who is forced to flee her home and cross into the United States after gang violence puts her entire family in danger. When her family is captured at the border, Marisol chooses to be subjected to a strange scientific experiment in exchange for a life of safety across the border. Written with love and hope, this debut novel is worth every page.
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez
National Book Award finalist I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez explores grief, family, and culture through the eyes of Julia, a teenaged girl living in Chicago. Her life hasn’t been the same since her sister, Olga, was tragically killed in a pedestrian accident—and now Julia is in the spotlight for not being anything like her sibling was. Now, together with her friend and boyfriend, Julia is determined to find out if there was more to the story of her perfect sister.
Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia
Instead of reading American Dirt—a story of border crossing and immigration written by a white woman—we highly recommend reading this story instead, written by novelist Gabriela Garcia. Spanning over 100 years and multiple generations, Of Women and Salt takes to 19th Century Cuba, Florida, Texas, El Salvador, and Mexico—following the lives of women who are just struggling to find themselves in a world that is stacked against them. As their stories collide and affect one another, you will find yourself gaining a greater understanding of all of their perspectives.
Afterlife by Julia Alvarez
After 15 years between adult novels, author Julia Alvarez returns with Afterlife, the celebrated book about a woman named Antonia who is trying to find her place in the world following her retirement and the sudden death of her husband. When her sister disappears—and a pregnant, undocumented teen arrives at her door searching for help, she must reevaluate her life and what it means to help one other—especially in uncertain time.
Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor
From the pen of one of Mexico’s most celebrated authors, Fernanda Melchor, comes the translation of her latest novel, Hurricane Season. At the heart of the story is a village witch who is found dead—and fanning out from that moment are the stories of eight different people who know shards of what happened to the woman. Dark and brutal, this shivering tale, filled with unreliable narrators and a bit of magic, is a classic in the making.
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