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, historical fiction, 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 I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez, while someone looking for a new swoony romance can start with Kiss Me, Mi Amor by Alana Quintana Albertson. If you want to better understand the immigrant experience, try Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia and Angie Cruz’s Domincana. Looking for a memoir brimming with culture and self-discovery? Check out journalist Nikki Vargas’s Call You When I Land.
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!
1. Call You When I Land: A Memoir by Nikki Vargas
On the brink of turning 27, Nikki Vargas flipped the world as she knew it on its head. With her wedding date looming, and a seed of imposter syndrome growing inside of her, she booked a one-way ticket to Cartagena. One freelance travel writing assignment later, Nikki found herself boarding a plane to Panama, then Iguazú, followed by Vietnam, and Argentina. Her little travel blog snowballed into a globally recognized female-focused travel publication, Unearth Women — and she’s taking us along for the ride in her new memoir.
2. The Long Game by Elena Armas
An unfortunate incident with her soccer team’s mascot sends Adalyn Reyes to rural North Carolina, where she’s tasked with saving a youth soccer team from another lackluster season. When Carolina learns that a pro goalkeeper is in town, she jumps at the chance to secure his help. Albeit, Cam wants nothing to do with Carolina or her pack of high-energy, chatty nine year olds. Hearing “no” has never stopped Carolina before, and it certainly won’t now.
3. Kiss Me, Mi Amor by Alana Quintana Albertson
From the author of Ramón and Julieta, comes another Mexican-American love story about a taco connoisseur and Latina farm owner, who find themselves entangled in a fake summer fling after Carlonia’s nosey, tight-knit family mistakes Enrique as her new boyfriend. Set against the strawberry fields of Santa Maria, and a string of Mexican-American holiday celebrations, the pair realize there’s nothing fake about their romance at all.
4. The Family Lore by Elizabeth Acevedo
What would happen if you had the ability to predict the day when someone will die? For Flor, the answer is simple: throw a living wake so she can celebrate her life with friends and family. But naturally, Flor’s request takes her sisters by surprise. Does this mean Flor knows when she is going to die? The Family Lore is told over the course of three days, recounting the lives of Flor and her family, in dual timelines, spanning between New York City and Santo Domingo.
5. The Self-Made Widow by Fabian Nicieza
Molly Goode’s husband is dead. Police reports chalk his death up to natural causes; but to former FBI profiler Andie Stern, there’s something a little too clean and tidy about the case. When Andie’s sidekick and journalist Kenny Lee receives an anonymous tip that Molly Goode is the reason why her husband is dead, the solve-criming duo dig out their detective hats once more.
6. Right Girl, Wrong Side by Ginny Baird
Forced proximity takes on a whole new meaning in Ginny Baird’s Right Girl, Wrong Side, about two rivaling families who refuse to back down from vacationing at a luxury beach cottage after being double-booked. For Evita and Ryan, it’s always been a what-could-have-been love story, stalled from ever taking off due to their mothers’ rival businesses. Now adults, and trapped under the same roof with their families, Evita and Ryan are thrown back into each other’s orbit. Love has a funny way of working itself out.
7. 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?
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. 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.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. 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.
16. 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.
17. 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.
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. 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.
21. 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.
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