Hispanic Heritage Month Recommendations

National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated each year from September 15 to October 15. This year, the theme is “Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation.” Honor diverse voices, unique perspectives, and rich cultural traditions through the following book recommendations. Ask your librarian for more recommendations! The descriptions of each book are provided by the publisher.

Adult Fiction

More Thank You’ll Ever Know by Katie Gutierrez

The dance becomes an affair, which becomes a marriage, which becomes a murder…

In 1985, Lore Rivera marries Andres Russo in Mexico City, even though she is already married to Fabian Rivera in Laredo, Texas, and they share twin sons. Through her career as an international banker, Lore splits her time between two countries and two families—until the truth is revealed and one husband is arrested for murdering the other.

In 2017, while trawling the internet for the latest, most sensational news reports, struggling true-crime writer Cassie Bowman encounters an article detailing that tragic final act. Cassie is immediately enticed by what is not explored: Why would a woman—a mother—risk everything for a secret double marriage? Cassie sees an opportunity—she’ll track Lore down and capture the full picture, the choices, the deceptions that led to disaster. But the more time she spends with Lore, the more Cassie questions the facts surrounding the murder itself. Soon, her determination to uncover the truth could threaten to derail Lore’s now quiet life—and expose the many secrets both women are hiding.

Told through alternating timelines, More Than You’ll Ever Know is both a gripping mystery and a wrenching family drama. Presenting a window into the hearts of two very different women, it explores the many conflicting demands of marriage and motherhood, and the impossibility of ever truly knowing someone—especially those we love.

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Woman of Light by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

There is one every generation, a seer who keeps the stories.

Luz “Little Light” Lopez, a tea leaf reader and laundress, is left to fend for herself after her older brother, Diego, a snake charmer and factory worker, is run out of town by a violent white mob. As Luz navigates 1930s Denver, she begins to have visions that transport her to her Indigenous homeland in the nearby Lost Territory. Luz recollects her ancestors’ origins, how her family flourished, and how they were threatened. She bears witness to the sinister forces that have devastated her people and their homelands for generations. In the end, it is up to Luz to save her family stories from disappearing into oblivion.

Written in Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s singular voice, the wildly entertaining and complex lives of the Lopez family fill the pages of this multigenerational western saga. Woman of Light is a transfixing novel about survival, family secrets, and love—filled with an unforgettable cast of characters, all of whom are just as special, memorable, and complicated as our beloved heroine, Luz.

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Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez

It’s 2017, and Olga and her brother, Pedro “Prieto” Acevedo, are boldfaced names in their hometown of New York. Prieto is a popular congressman representing their gentrifying Latinx neighborhood in Brooklyn, while Olga is the tony wedding planner for Manhattan’s power brokers.

Despite their alluring public lives, behind closed doors things are far less rosy. Sure, Olga can orchestrate the love stories of the 1 percent but she can’t seem to find her own. . . until she meets Matteo, who forces her to confront the effects of long-held family secrets.

Olga and Prieto’s mother, Blanca, a Young Lord turned radical, abandoned her children to advance a militant political cause, leaving them to be raised by their grandmother. Now, with the winds of hurricane season, Blanca has come barreling back into their lives.

Set against the backdrop of New York City in the months surrounding the most devastating hurricane in Puerto Rico’s history, Xochitl Gonzalez’s Olga Dies Dreaming is a story that examines political corruption, familial strife, and the very notion of the American dream—all while asking what it really means to weather a storm.

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Velorio by Xavier Navarro Aquino

Set in the wake of Hurricane Maria, Xavier Navarro Aquino’s unforgettable debut novel follows a remarkable group of survivors searching for hope on an island torn apart by both natural disaster and human violence.

Camila is haunted by the death of her sister, Marisol, who was caught by a mudslide during the huracán. Unable to part with Marisol, Camila carries her through town, past the churchyard, and, eventually, to the supposed utopia of Memoria.

Urayoán, the idealistic, yet troubled cult leader of Memoria, has a vision for this new society, one that in his eyes is peaceful and democratic. The paradise he preaches lures in the young, including Bayfish, a boy on the cusp of manhood, and Morivivi, a woman whose outward toughness belies an inner tenderness for her friends. But as the different members of Memoria navigate Urayoán’s fiery rise, they will need to confront his violent authoritarian impulses in order to find a way to reclaim their home.

Velorio—meaning “wake”—is a story of strength, resilience, and hope; a tale of peril and possibility buoyed by the deeply held belief in a people’s ability to unite against those corrupted by power.

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Violeta by Isabel Allende

Violeta comes into the world on a stormy day in 1920, the first girl in a family with five boisterous sons. From the start, her life is marked by extraordinary events, for the ripples of the Great War are still being felt, even as the Spanish flu arrives on the shores of her South American homeland almost at the moment of her birth.

Through her father’s prescience, the family will come through that crisis unscathed, only to face a new one as the Great Depression transforms the genteel city life she has known. Her family loses everything and is forced to retreat to a wild and beautiful but remote part of the country. There, she will come of age, and her first suitor will come calling.

She tells her story in the form of a letter to someone she loves above all others, recounting times of devastating heartbreak and passionate affairs, poverty and wealth, terrible loss and immense joy. Her life is shaped by some of the most important events of history: the fight for women’s rights, the rise and fall of tyrants, and ultimately not one, but two pandemics.

Through the eyes of a woman whose unforgettable passion, determination, and sense of humor carry her through a lifetime of upheaval, Isabel Allende once more brings us an epic that is both fiercely inspiring and deeply emotional.

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The Five Wounds by Kirstin Valdez Quade

It’s Holy Week in the small town of Las Penas, New Mexico, and thirty-three-year-old unemployed Amadeo Padilla has been given the part of Jesus in the Good Friday procession. He is preparing feverishly for this role when his fifteen-year-old daughter Angel shows up pregnant on his doorstep and disrupts his plans for personal redemption. With weeks to go until her due date, tough, ebullient Angel has fled her mother’s house, setting her life on a startling new path.

Vivid, tender, funny, and beautifully rendered, The Five Wounds spans the baby’s first year as five generations of the Padilla family converge: Amadeo’s mother, Yolanda, reeling from a recent discovery; Angel’s mother, Marissa, whom Angel isn’t speaking to; and disapproving Tíve, Yolanda’s uncle and keeper of the family’s history. Each brings expectations that Amadeo, who often solves his problems with a beer in his hand, doesn’t think he can live up to.

The Five Wounds is a miraculous debut novel from a writer whose stories have been hailed as “legitimate masterpieces” (New York Times). Kirstin Valdez Quade conjures characters that will linger long after the final page, bringing to life their struggles to parent children they may not be equipped to save.

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A Woman of Endurance by Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa

Combining the haunting power of Toni Morrison’s Beloved with the evocative atmosphere of Phillippa Gregory’s A Respectable Trade, Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa’s groundbreaking novel illuminates a little discussed aspect of history—the Puerto Rican Atlantic Slave Trade—witnessed through the experiences of Pola, an African captive used as a breeder to bear more slaves.

A Woman of Endurance, set in nineteenth-century Puerto Rican plantation society, follows Pola, a deeply spiritual African woman who is captured and later sold for the purpose of breeding future slaves. The resulting babies are taken from her as soon as they are born. Pola loses the faith that has guided her and becomes embittered and defensive. The dehumanizing violence of her life almost destroys her. But this is not a novel of defeat but rather one of survival, regeneration, and reclamation of common humanity.

Readers are invited to join Pola in her journey to healing. From the sadistic barbarity of her first experiences, she moves on to receive compassion and support from a revitalizing new community. Along the way, she learns to recognize and embrace the many faces of love—a mother’s love, a daughter’s love, a sister’s love, a love of community, and the self-love that she must recover before she can offer herself to another. It is ultimately, a novel of the triumph of the human spirit even under the most brutal of conditions.

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A Ballad of Love and Glory by Reyna Grande

A forgotten war. An unforgettable romance.

The year is 1846. After the controversial annexation of Texas, the US Army marches south to provoke war with México over the disputed Río Grande boundary.​

Ximena Salomé is a gifted Mexican healer who dreams of building a family with the man she loves on the coveted land she calls home. But when Texas Rangers storm her ranch and shoot her husband dead, her dreams are burned to ashes. Vowing to honor her husband’s memory and defend her country, Ximena uses her healing skills as an army nurse on the frontlines of the ravaging war.

Meanwhile, John Riley, an Irish immigrant in the Yankee army desperate to help his family escape the famine devastating his homeland, is sickened by the unjust war and the unspeakable atrocities against his countrymen by nativist officers. In a bold act of defiance, he swims across the Río Grande and joins the Mexican Army—a desertion punishable by execution. He forms the St. Patrick’s Battalion, a band of Irish soldiers willing to fight to the death for México’s freedom.

When Ximena and John meet, a dangerous attraction blooms between them. As the war intensifies, so does their passion. Swept up by forces with the power to change history, they fight not only for the fate of a nation but for their future together.

Heartbreaking and lyrical, Reyna Grande’s spellbinding saga, inspired by true events and historical figures, brings these two unforgettable characters to life and illuminates a largely forgotten moment in history that impacts the US-México border to this day.

Will Ximena and John survive the chaos of this bitter war, or will their love be devoured along with the land they strive to defend?

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The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Carlota Moreau: A young woman growing up on a distant and luxuriant estate, safe from the conflict and strife of the Yucatán peninsula. The only daughter of a researcher who is either a genius or a madman.

Montgomery Laughton: A melancholic overseer with a tragic past and a propensity for alcohol. An outcast who assists Dr. Moreau with his experiments, which are financed by the Lizaldes, owners of magnificent haciendas and plentiful coffers.

The hybrids: The fruits of the doctor’s labor, destined to blindly obey their creator and remain in the shadows. A motley group of part human, part animal monstrosities.

All of them live in a perfectly balanced and static world, which is jolted by the abrupt arrival of Eduardo Lizalde, the charming and careless son of Dr. Moreau’s patron, who will unwittingly begin a dangerous chain reaction.

For Moreau keeps secrets, Carlota has questions, and, in the sweltering heat of the jungle, passions may ignite.

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The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas

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Trust by Hernan Diaz

An unparalleled novel about money, power, intimacy, and perception

Even through the roar and effervescence of the 1920s, everyone in New York has heard of Benjamin and Helen Rask. He is a legendary Wall Street tycoon; she is the daughter of eccentric aristocrats. Together, they have risen to the very top of a world of seemingly endless wealth—all as a decade of excess and speculation draws to an end. But at what cost have they acquired their immense fortune? This is the mystery at the center of Bonds, a successful 1937 novel that all of New York seems to have read. Yet there are other versions of this tale of privilege and deceit.

Hernan Diaz’s TRUST elegantly puts these competing narratives into conversation with one another—and in tension with the perspective of one woman bent on disentangling fact from fiction. The result is a novel that spans over a century and becomes more exhilarating with each new revelation.

At once an immersive story and a brilliant literary puzzle, TRUST engages the reader in a quest for the truth while confronting the deceptions that often live at the heart of personal relationships, the reality-warping force of capital, and the ease with which power can manipulate facts.

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Neruda on the Park by Cleyvis Natera

The Guerreros have lived in Nothar Park, a predominantly Dominican part of New York City, for twenty years. When demolition begins on a neighboring tenement, Eusebia, an elder of the community, takes matters into her own hands by devising an increasingly dangerous series of schemes to stop construction of the luxury condos. Meanwhile, Eusebia’s daughter, Luz, a rising associate at a top Manhattan law firm who strives to live the bougie lifestyle her parents worked hard to give her, becomes distracted by a sweltering romance with the handsome white developer at the company her mother so vehemently opposes.

As Luz’s father, Vladimir, secretly designs their retirement home in the Dominican Republic, mother and daughter collide, ramping up tensions in Nothar Park, racing toward a near-fatal climax.

A beautifully layered portrait of family, friendship, and ambition, Neruda on the Park weaves a rich and vivid tapestry of community as well as the sacrifices we make to protect what we love most, announcing Cleyvis Natera as an electrifying new voice.

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Bindle Punk Bruja by Desideria Mesa

Boardwalk Empire meets The Vanishing Half with a touch of earth magic in this sexy and action-packed historical fantasy set in the luminous Golden Twenties from debut author Desideria Mesa, where a part-time reporter and club owner takes on crooked city councilmen, mysterious and deadly mobsters, and society’s deeply rooted sexism and racism, all while keeping her true identity and magical abilities hidden—inspired by an ancient Mexican folktale.

Yo soy quien soy. I am who I am.

Luna—or depending on who’s asking, Rose—is the white-passing daughter of an immigrant mother who has seen what happens to people from her culture. This world is prejudicial, and she must hide her identity in pursuit of owning an illegal jazz club. Using her cunning powers, Rose negotiates with dangerous criminals as she climbs up Kansas City’s bootlegging ladder. Luna, however, runs the risk of losing everything if the crooked city councilmen and ruthless mobsters discover her ties to an immigrant boxcar community that secretly houses witches. Last thing she wants is to put her entire family in danger.

But this bruja with ever-growing magical abilities can never resist a good fight. With her new identity, Rose, an unabashed flapper, defies societal expectations all the while struggling to keep her true self and witchcraft in check. However, the harder she tries to avoid scrutiny, the more her efforts eventually capture unwanted attention. Soon, she finds herself surrounded by greed and every brand of bigotry—from local gangsters who want a piece of the action and businessmen who hate her diverse staff to the Ku Klux Klan and Al Capone. Will her earth magic be enough to save her friends and family? As much as she hates to admit it, she may need to learn to have faith in others—and learning to trust may prove to be her biggest ambition yet.

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Our Last Days in Barcelona by Chanel Cleeton

When Isabel Perez travels to Barcelona to save her sister Beatriz, she discovers a shocking family secret in New York Times bestselling author Chanel Cleeton’s new novel.

Barcelona, 1964. Exiled from Cuba after the revolution, Isabel Perez has learned to guard her heart and protect her family at all costs. After Isabel’s sister Beatriz disappears in Barcelona, Isabel goes to Spain in search of her. Joining forces with an unlikely ally thrusts Isabel into her sister’s dangerous world of espionage, but it’s an unearthed piece of family history that transforms Isabel’s life.

Barcelona, 1936. Alicia Perez arrives in Barcelona after a difficult voyage from Cuba, her marriage in jeopardy and her young daughter Isabel in tow. Violence brews in Spain, the country on the brink of civil war, the rise of fascism threatening the world. When Cubans journey to Spain to join the International Brigades, Alicia’s past comes back to haunt her as she is unexpectedly reunited with the man who once held her heart.

Alicia and Isabel’s lives intertwine, and the past and present collide, as a mother and daughter are forced to choose between their family’s expectations and following their hearts.

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Twice a Quinceañera by Yamile Saied Méndez

One month short of her wedding day—and her thirtieth birthday—Nadia Palacio finds herself standing up to her infuriating, cheating fiancé for the first time in . . . well, ever. But that same courage doesn’t translate to breaking the news to her Argentinian family. She’s hyperventilating before facing them when she glimpses a magazine piece about a Latina woman celebrating herself—with a second quinceañera, aka Sweet 15! And that gives Nadia a brilliant idea . . .

With a wedding venue already paid for, and family from all over the world with plane tickets, Nadia is determined to create her own happily-ever-after. Since the math adds up perfectly, she’ll celebrate her treintañera, her double quinces. As the first professional in her family, raising a glass to her achievements is the best plan she’s had in years. Until she discovers that the man in charge of the venue is none other than her college fling that became far more than a fling. And he looks even more delicious than a three-tiered cake . . .

Full of exuberant heart, Twice a Quinceañera is a pure delight for every woman who needs to be her own biggest fan—and who dreams of a second chance at first love.

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How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water by Angie Cruz

Cara Romero thought she would work at the factory of little lamps for the rest of her life. But when, in her mid-50s, she loses her job in the Great Recession, she is forced back into the job market for the first time in decades. Set up with a job counselor, Cara instead begins to narrate the story of her life. Over the course of twelve sessions, Cara recounts her tempestuous love affairs, her alternately biting and loving relationships with her neighbor Lulu and her sister Angela, her struggles with debt, gentrification and loss, and, eventually, what really happened between her and her estranged son, Fernando. As Cara confronts her darkest secrets and regrets, we see a woman buffeted by life but still full of fight.

Structurally inventive and emotionally kaleidoscopic, How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water is Angie Cruz’s most ambitious and moving novel yet, and Cara is a heroine for the ages.

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Paradais by Fernanda Melchor, translated from the Spanish by Sophie Hughes

Inside a luxury housing complex, two misfit teenagers sneak around and get drunk. Franco, lonely, overweight, and addicted to porn, obsessively fantasizes about seducing his neighbor—an attractive married woman and mother—while Polo dreams about quitting his awful job as the gated community’s gardener and fleeing his overbearing mother and their narco-controlled village. Faced with the impossibility of getting what they think they deserves, Franco and Polo hatch a mindless and macabre scheme.

Written in a thrilling torrent of prose by one of our most exciting new writers, Paradais explores the explosive fragility of Mexican society—fractured by issues of race, class, and violence—and how the myths, desires, and hardships of teenagers can tear life apart at the seams.

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The Town of Babylon by Alejandro Varela

In this contemporary debut novel—an intimate portrait of queer, racial, and class identity —Andrés, a gay Latinx professor, returns to his suburban hometown in the wake of his husband’s infidelity. There he finds himself with no excuse not to attend his twenty-year high school reunion, and hesitantly begins to reconnect with people he used to call friends.

Over the next few weeks, while caring for his aging parents and navigating the neighborhood where he grew up, Andrés falls into old habits with friends he thought he’d left behind. Before long, he unexpectedly becomes entangled with his first love and is forced to tend to past wounds.

Captivating and poignant; a modern coming-of-age story about the essential nature of community, The Town of Babylon is a page-turning novel about young love and a close examination of our social systems and the toll they take when they fail us.

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Valley of Shadows by Ruby Ruiz

A visionary neo-Western blend of magical realism, mystery, and horror, Valley of Shadows sheds light on the dark past of injustice, isolation, and suffering along the US-Mexico border.

Solitario Cisneros thought his life was over long ago. He lost his wife, his family, even his country in the late 1870s when the Rio Grande shifted course, stranding the Mexican town of Olvido on the Texas side of the border. He’d made his brooding peace with retiring his gun and badge, hiding out on his ranch, and communing with horses and ghosts. But when a gruesome string of murders and kidnappings ravages the town, pushing its volatile mix of Anglo, Mexican, and Apache settlers to the brink of self-destruction, he feels reluctantly compelled to confront both life, and the much more likely possibility of­ ­death, yet again.

As Solitario struggles to overcome not only the evil forces that threaten the town but also his own inner demons, he finds an unlikely source of inspiration and support in Onawa, a gifted and enchanting Apache-Mexican seer who champions his cause, daring him to open his heart and question his destiny.

As we follow Solitario and Onawa into the desert, we join them in facing haunting questions about the human condition that are as relevant today as they were back then: Can we rewrite our own history and shape our own future? What does it mean to belong to a place, or for a place to belong to a people? And, as lonely and defeated as we might feel, are we ever truly alone?

Through luminous prose and soul-searching reflections, Rudy Ruiz transports readers to a distant time and a remote place where the immortal forces of good and evil dance amidst the shadows of magic and mountains.

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The Devil Takes You Home: A Barrio Noir by Gabino Iglesias

From an award-winning author comes a genre-defying thriller about a father desperate to salvage what’s left of his family—even if it means a descent into violence.

Buried in debt due to his young daughter’s illness, his marriage at the brink, Mario reluctantly takes a job as a hitman, surprising himself with his proclivity for violence. After tragedy destroys the life he knew, Mario agrees to one final job: hijack a cartel’s cash shipment before it reaches Mexico. Along with an old friend and a cartel-insider named Juanca, Mario sets off on the near-suicidal mission, which will leave him with either a cool $200,000 or a bullet in the skull. But the path to reward or ruin is never as straight as it seems. As the three complicated men travel through the endless landscape of Texas, across the border and back, their hidden motivations are laid bare alongside nightmarish encounters that defy explanation. One thing is certain: even if Mario makes it out alive, he won’t return the same.

The Devil Takes You Home is a panoramic odyssey for fans of S.A. Cosby’s southern noir, Blacktop Wasteland, by way of the boundary-defying storytelling of Stephen Graham Jones and Silvia Moreno-Garcia.

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The Girls in Queens by Christine Kandic Torres

An unforgettable debut novel about the furious loyalty of two Latinx women coming of age in Queens, New York, an emotionally resonant novel infused with the insight, power, and poignancy of Angie Cruz’s Dominicana, Jacqueline Woodson’s Another Brooklyn, and Sally Rooney’s Conversations with Friends.

Growing up in the ’90s along Clement Moore Avenue in Queens, Brisma and Kelly are two young Latinas with an inseparable bond, sharing everything and anything with each other. The girls are opposites: Brisma is sweet, sensitive, and observant, whereas Kelly is free-spirited, flirtatious, and bold. But together, they binge on Sour Patch Kids, listen to Boyz II Men cassette tapes, and dance to Selena and Mariah Carey where no one can see them.

In high school, their friendship starts to form cracks when Brisma finds herself in a relationship with Brian, a charismatic baseball star. Brisma is thrilled to finally have something—someone—to herself. But Kelly wasn’t built to be a third wheel.

Years later, the Mets begin a historic run for the playoffs, and Brisma and Kelly—now on the cusp of adulthood—reconnect with Brian after years of silence. But then Brian is charged with sexual assault. Brisma and Kelly find themselves on opposite sides of the accusation, viewing their past and past traumas from completely different vantage points, and the two lifelong friends will have to decide if their shared history is enough to sustain their future.

Told in alternating timelines, Christine Kandic Torres’s incredible debut explores the unbreakable bonds of friendship, complications of sexual-abuse allegations within communities of color, and the danger of forgetting that sometimes monsters hide in plain sight.

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Portrait of an Unknown Lady by María Gainza

New York Times Notable author María Gainza, who dazzled critics with Optic Nerve, returns with the captivating story of an auction house employee on the trail of an enigmatic master forger

In the Buenos Aires art world, a master forger has achieved legendary status. Rumored to be a woman, she specializes in canvases by the painter Mariette Lydis, a portraitist of Argentinean high society. But who is this absurdly gifted creator of counterfeits? What motivates her? And what is her link to the community of artists who congregate, night after night, in a strange establishment called the Hotel Melancólico?

On the trail of this mysterious forger is our narrator, an art critic and auction house employee through whose hands counterfeit works have passed. As she begins to take on the role of art-world detective, adopting her own methods of deception and manipulation, she warns us “not to proceed in expectation of names, numbers or dates . . . My techniques are those of the impressionist.”

Driven by obsession and full of subtle surprise, Portrait of an Unknown Lady is a highly seductive and enveloping meditation on what we mean by “authenticity” in art, and a captivating exploration of the gap between what is lived and what is told.

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After Hours on Milagro Street by Angelina M. Lopez

Opposites attract in this rivals-to-lovers romance from Lush Money author Angelina M. Lopez

Guapo pobrecito her grandmother calls him. The “poor handsome man.”

Professor Jeremiah Post, the poor handsome man, is in fact standing in the way of Alejandra “Alex” Torres turning Loretta’s, her grandmother’s bar, into a viable business. The hot brainiac who sleeps in one of the upstairs tenant rooms already has all of her Mexican American family’s admiration; she won’t let him have the bar and building she needs to resurrect her career, too.

Alex blowing into town has rocked Jeremiah to his mild-mannered core, but the large, boisterous Torres clan is everything he never had. He doesn’t believe Alex has the best interest of her family, their community, or the bar’s legacy in mind. To protect all three, he’ll stand up to the tough and tattooed bartender with whom he now shares a bedroom wall—and resist the insta-lust they both feel.

But when an old enemy threatens Loretta’s and the surrounding neighborhood, Alex and Jeremiah must combine forces. It will take her might and his mind to save the home they both desperately need.

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A Proposal They Can’t Refuse by Natalie Caña

Natalie Caña turns up the heat, humor and heart in this debut rom-com about a Puerto Rican chef and an Irish American whiskey distiller forced into a fake engagement by their scheming octogenarian grandfathers.

Kamilah Vega is desperate to convince her family to update their Puerto Rican restaurant and enter it into the Fall Foodie Tour. With the gentrification of their Chicago neighborhood, it’s the only way to save the place. The fly in her mofongo—her blackmailing abuelo says if she wants to change anything in his restaurant, she’ll have to marry the one man she can’t stand: his best friend’s grandson.

Liam Kane spent a decade working to turn his family’s distillery into a contender. But just as he and his grandfather are on the verge of winning a national competition, Granda hits him with a one-two punch: he has cancer and has his heart set on seeing Liam married before it’s too late. And Granda knows just the girl…Kamilah Vega.

If they refuse, their grandfathers will sell the building that houses both their businesses. With their futures on the line, Kamilah and Liam plan to outfox the devious duo, faking an engagement until they both get what they want. But soon, they find themselves tangled up in more than either of them bargained for.

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Ben and Beatriz by Katalina Gamarra

There’s nothing like falling for your worst enemy.

Beatriz Herrera is a fierce woman who will take you down with her quick wit and keen intellect. And after the results of the 2016 election worked hard to erase her identity as a queer biracial woman, she’d be right to. Especially if you come for her sweet BFF cousin, Hero. Beatriz would do anything for her, a loyalty that lands Beatriz precisely where she doesn’t want to be: spending a week at the ridiculous Cape Cod mansion of stupid-hot playboy Ben Montgomery. The same Ben Montgomery she definitely shouldn’t have hooked up with that one time… The things we do for family.

White and wealthy, Ben talks the talk and walks the walk of privilege, but deep down, he’s wrestling with the politics and expectations of a conservative family he can’t relate to. Though Beatriz’s caustic tongue drives him wild in the very best way, he’s the last person she’d want, because she has zero interest in compromising her identity. But as her and Ben’s assumptions begin to unravel and their hookups turn into something real, they start wondering if it’s still possible to hold space for one another and the inescapable love that unites them.

This retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing is both razor-sharp and swoon-worthy: the perfect love story for our time.

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West Side Love Story by Priscilla Oliveras

A heart-stirring romance of star-crossed love, feuding familias, and the bonds of sisterhood by USA Today bestselling author Priscilla Oliveras.

Two familias in Texas, both alike in dignity, rivalries, and passion…

Having grown up in the nurturing household of Casa Capuleta, Mariana will do anything for familia. To solve her adoptive parents’ financial problems amid their rapidly changing San Antonio comunidad, Mariana and her younger sisters are determined to win the Battle of the Mariachi Bands. That means competing against Hugo Montero, their father’s archnemesis, and his band and escalating a decades-old feud. It also raises the stakes of Mariana’s forbidden attraction for a certain dark-eyed mariachi who sets her heart racing.

To Angelo Montero’s familia, Mariana is also strictly off-limits. But that doesn’t stop him from pursuing her. As their secret affair intensifies and the competition grows fierce, they’re swept up in a brewing storm of betrayals, rivalries, and broken ties. Against the odds, they vow to bring peace. But sacrifices must be made and consequences weighed for two star-crossed lovers to make beautiful music together.

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The Wedding Crasher by Mia Sosa

The USA Today bestselling author of The Worst Best Man is back with a hilarious rom-com about two strangers who get trapped in a lie and have to fake date their way out of it…

Just weeks away from ditching DC for greener pastures, Solange Pereira is roped into helping her wedding planner cousin on a random couple’s big day. It’s an easy gig… until Solange stumbles upon a situation that convinces her the pair isn’t meant to be. What’s a true-blue romantic to do? Crash the wedding, of course. And ensure the unsuspecting groom doesn’t make the biggest mistake of his life.

Dean Chapman had his future all mapped out. He was about to check off “start a family” and on track to “make partner” when his modern day marriage of convenience went up in smoke. Then he learns he might not land an assignment that could be his ticket to a promotion unless he has a significant other and, in a moment of panic, Dean claims to be in love with the woman who crashed his wedding. Oops.

Now Dean has a whole new item on his to-do list: beg Solange to be his pretend girlfriend. Solange feels a tiny bit bad about ruining Dean’s wedding, so she agrees to play along. Yet as they fake-date their way around town, what started as a performance for Dean’s colleagues turns into a connection that neither he nor Solange can deny. Their entire romance is a sham… there’s no way these polar opposites could fall in love for real, right?

 

Young Adult Fiction

Lakelore by Anna-Maria McLemore

In this young adult novel by award-winning author Anna-Marie McLemore, two non-binary teens are pulled into a magical world under a lake – but can they keep their worlds above water intact?

Everyone who lives near the lake knows the stories about the world underneath it, an ethereal landscape rumored to be half-air, half-water. But Bastián Silvano and Lore Garcia are the only ones who’ve been there. Bastián grew up both above the lake and in the otherworldly space beneath it. Lore’s only seen the world under the lake once, but that one encounter changed their life and their fate.

Then the lines between air and water begin to blur. The world under the lake drifts above the surface. If Bastián and Lore don’t want it bringing their secrets to the surface with it, they have to stop it, and to do that, they have to work together. There’s just one problem: Bastián and Lore haven’t spoken in seven years, and working together means trusting each other with the very things they’re trying to hide.

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Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez

A powerful contemporary YA for fans of The Poet X and I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter set in Argentina, about a rising soccer star who must put everything on the line—even her blooming love story—to follow her dreams.

In Rosario, Argentina, Camila Hassan lives a double life.

At home, she is a careful daughter, living within her mother’s narrow expectations, in her rising-soccer-star brother’s shadow, and under the abusive rule of her short-tempered father.

On the field, she is La Furia, a powerhouse of skill and talent. When her team qualifies for the South American tournament, Camila gets the chance to see just how far those talents can take her. In her wildest dreams, she’d get an athletic scholarship to a North American university.

But the path ahead isn’t easy. Her parents don’t know about her passion. They wouldn’t allow a girl to play fútbol—and she needs their permission to go any farther. And the boy she once loved is back in town. Since he left, Diego has become an international star, playing in Italy for the renowned team Juventus. Camila doesn’t have time to be distracted by her feelings for him. Things aren’t the same as when he left: she has her own passions and ambitions now, and La Furia cannot be denied. As her life becomes more complicated, Camila is forced to face her secrets and make her way in a world with no place for the dreams and ambition of a girl like her.

Filled with authentic details and the textures of day-to-day life in Argentina, heart-soaring romance, and breathless action on the pitch, Furia is the story of a girl’s journey to make her life her own.

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The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera

Había una vez . . .

There lived a girl named Petra Peña, who wanted nothing more than to be a storyteller, like her abuelita.

But Petra’s world is ending. Earth has been destroyed by a comet, and only a few hundred scientists and their children — among them Petra and her family — have been chosen to journey to a new planet. They are the ones who must carry on the human race.

Hundreds of years later, Petra wakes to this new planet — and the discovery that she is the only person who remembers Earth. A sinister Collective has taken over the ship during its journey, bent on erasing the sins of humanity’s past. They have systematically purged the memories of all aboard — or purged them altogether.

Petra alone now carries the stories of our past, and with them, any hope for our future. Can she make them live again?

Pura Belpré Honor-winning author Donna Barba Higuera presents us with a brilliant journey through the stars, to the very heart of what makes us human.

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No Filter and Other Lies by Crystal Maldonado

You should know, right now, that I’m a liar.

They’re usually little lies. Tiny lies. Baby lies. Not so much lies as lie adjacent. But they’re still lies…

Golden-haired Max Monroe has it all: beauty, friends, and tons of followers. Her picture-perfect existence seems eminently enviable.

Except it’s all fake.

“Max” is actually Kat Sanchez, a quiet and sarcastic 17-year-old living in drab Bakersfield, California. Nothing glamorous about her existence—just bad house parties, a crap school year, and the awkwardness of dealing with best friend Hari’s unrequited love.

But while Kat’s life is far from perfect, she thrives as Max: doling out advice, sharing beautiful photos, networking with fans, even finding a real friend (or more?—Is Kat into girls!?) in a gorgeous Fat follower named Elena. But the closer Elena and “Max” get, the more Kat feels she has to keep up the façade. “Max” is the first time people have really listened to what Kat has to say—and after a lifetime of invisibility (including ice-cold indifference from her parents) can she really give that up?

But when one of Kat’s posts goes viral and gets back to the girl she’s been stealing photos from, her entire world—real and fake—comes crashing down around her. Can she escape the web of lies she’s woven without hurting the people she loves?

This insightful, provocative novel—hilarious and raw by turns—is the second book from Crystal Maldonado, author of smash-hit New England Book Award Winner Fat Chance, Charlie Vega. Brilliantly plotted, deeply sensitive, and rich in voice, No Filter and Other Lies deftly addresses FOMO, first love, one-sided love, frayed family ties, raced exclusion on social media, queer awakenings, and learning to live with—and love—yourself.

Because the most powerful lies are the lies we tell ourselves.

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The Lost Dreamer by Lizz Huerta

A stunning YA fantasy inspired by ancient Mesoamerica, this gripping debut introduces us to a lineage of seers defiantly resisting the shifting patriarchal state that would see them destroyed—perfect for fans of Tomi Adeyemi and Sabaa Tahir.

Indir is a Dreamer, descended from a long line of seers; able to see beyond reality, she carries the rare gift of Dreaming truth. But when the beloved king dies, his son has no respect for this time-honored tradition. King Alcan wants an opportunity to bring the Dreamers to a permanent end—an opportunity Indir will give him if he discovers the two secrets she is struggling to keep. As violent change shakes Indir’s world to its core, she is forced to make an impossible choice: fight for her home or fight to survive.

Saya is a seer, but not a Dreamer—she has never been formally trained. Her mother exploits her daughter’s gift, passing it off as her own as they travel from village to village, never staying in one place too long. Almost as if they’re running from something. Almost as if they’re being hunted. When Saya loses the necklace she’s worn since birth, she discovers that seeing isn’t her only gift—and begins to suspect that everything she knows about her life has been a carefully-constructed lie. As she comes to distrust the only family she’s ever known, Saya will do what she’s never done before, go where she’s never been, and risk it all in the search of answers.

With a detailed, supernaturally-charged setting and topical themes of patriarchal power and female strength, Lizz Huerta’s The Lost Dreamer brings an ancient world to life, mirroring the challenges of our modern one.

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Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

A trans boy determined to prove his gender to his traditional Latinx family summons a ghost who refuses to leave in Aiden Thomas’s New York Times-bestselling paranormal YA debut Cemetery Boys, described by Entertainment Weekly as “groundbreaking.”

Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him.

When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his true gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.

However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie off some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.

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Ophelia After All by Racquel Marie

A teen girl navigates friendship drama, the end of high school, and discovering her queerness in Ophelia After All, a hilarious and heartfelt contemporary YA debut by author Racquel Marie.

Ophelia Rojas knows what she likes: her best friends, Cuban food, rose-gardening, and boys – way too many boys. Her friends and parents make fun of her endless stream of crushes, but Ophelia is a romantic at heart. She couldn’t change, even if she wanted to.

So when she finds herself thinking more about cute, quiet Talia Sanchez than the loss of a perfect prom with her ex-boyfriend, seeds of doubt take root in Ophelia’s firm image of herself. Add to that the impending end of high school and the fracturing of her once-solid friend group, and things are spiraling a little out of control. But the course of love—and sexuality—never did run smooth. As her secrets begin to unravel, Ophelia must make a choice between clinging to the fantasy version of herself she’s always imagined or upending everyone’s expectations to rediscover who she really is, after all.

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Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado

Charlie Vega is a lot of things. Smart. Funny. Artistic. Ambitious. Fat.

People sometimes have a problem with that last one. Especially her mom. Charlie wants a good relationship with her body, but it’s hard, and her mom leaving a billion weight loss shakes on her dresser doesn’t help. The world and everyone in it have ideas about what she should look like: thinner, lighter, slimmer-faced, straighter-haired. Be smaller. Be whiter. Be quieter.

But there’s one person who’s always in Charlie’s corner: her best friend Amelia. Slim. Popular. Athletic. Totally dope. So when Charlie starts a tentative relationship with cute classmate Brian, the first worthwhile guy to notice her, everything is perfect until she learns one thing–he asked Amelia out first. So is she his second choice or what? Does he even really see her?

Because it’s time people did.

A sensitive, funny, and painfully honest coming-of-age story with a wry voice and tons of chisme, Fat Chance, Charlie Vega tackles our relationships to our parents, our bodies, our cultures, and ourselves.

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High Spirits: Short Stories on Dominican Diaspora by Camille Gomera-Tavarez

High Spirits is a collection of eleven interconnected short stories from the Dominican diaspora, from debut author Camille Gomera-Tavarez.

It is a book centered on one extended family – the Beléns – across multiple generations.

It is set in the fictional small town of Hidalpa – and Santo Domingo and Paterson and San Juan and Washington Heights too.

It is told in a style both utterly real and distinctly magical – and its stories explore machismo, mental health, family, and identity.

But most of all, High Spirits represents the first book from Camille Gomera-Tavarez, who takes her place as one of the most extraordinary new voices to emerge in years.

 

Nonfiction

High-Risk Homosexual by Edgar Gomez

This witty memoir traces a touching and often hilarious spiralic path to embracing a gay, Latinx identity against a culture of machismo—from a cockfighting ring in Nicaragua to cities across the U.S.—and the bath houses, night clubs, and drag queens who help redefine pride

I’ve always found the definition of machismo to be ironic, considering that pride is a word almost unanimously associated with queer people, the enemy of machistas . . . In a world desperate to erase us, queer Latinx men must find ways to hold on to pride for survival, but excessive male pride is often what we are battling, both in ourselves and in others.

A debut memoir about coming of age as a gay, Latinx man, High-Risk Homosexual opens in the ultimate anti-gay space: Edgar Gomez’s uncle’s cockfighting ring in Nicaragua, where he was sent at thirteen years old to become a man. Readers follow Gomez through the queer spaces where he learned to love being gay and Latinx, including Pulse nightclub in Orlando, a drag queen convention in Los Angeles, and the doctor’s office where he was diagnosed a “high-risk homosexual.”

With vulnerability, humor, and quick-witted insights into racial, sexual, familial, and professional power dynamics, Gomez shares a hard-won path to taking pride in the parts of himself he was taught to keep hidden. His story is a scintillating, beautiful reminder of the importance of leaving space for joy.

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Trejo: My Life of Crime, Redemption, and Hollywood by Danny Trejo

On screen, Danny Trejo the actor is a baddie who has been killed at least a hundred times. He’s been shot, stabbed, hanged, chopped up, squished by an elevator, and once, was even melted into a bloody goo. Off screen, he’s a hero beloved by recovery communities and obsessed fans alike. But the real Danny Trejo is much more complicated than the legend.

Raised in an abusive home, Danny struggled with heroin addiction and stints in some of the country’s most notorious state prisons—including San Quentin and Folsom—from an early age, before starring in such modern classics as Heat, From Dusk till Dawn, and Machete. Now, in this funny, painful, and suspenseful memoir, Danny takes us through the incredible ups and downs of his life, including meeting one of the world’s most notorious serial killers in prison and working with legends like Charles Bronson and Robert De Niro.

An honest, unflinching, and “inspirational study in the definition of character” (Kevin Smith, director and actor), Trejo reveals how he managed the horrors of prison, rebuilt himself after finding sobriety and spirituality in solitary confinement, and draws inspiration from the adrenaline-fueled robbing heists of his past for the film roles that made him a household name. He also shares the painful contradictions in his personal life. Although he speaks everywhere from prison yards to NPR about his past to inspire countless others on their own road to recovery and redemption, he struggles to help his children with their personal battles with addiction, and to build relationships that last.

Redemptive and painful, poignant and real, Trejo is a portrait of a magnificent life and an unforgettable and exceptional journey that proves “though we may fall down at some point in our lives, it’s what we do when we stand back up that really counts” (Robert Rodriguez, filmmaker and producer).

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Bad Mexicans: Race, Empire & Revolution in the Borderlands by Kelly Lytle Hernández

Bad Mexicans tells the dramatic story of the magonistas, the migrant rebels who sparked the 1910 Mexican Revolution from the United States. Led by a brilliant but ill-tempered radical named Ricardo Flores Magón, the magonistas were a motley band of journalists, miners, migrant workers, and more, who organized thousands of Mexican workers—and American dissidents—to their cause. Determined to oust Mexico’s dictator, Porfirio Díaz, who encouraged the plunder of his country by U.S. imperialists such as Guggenheim and Rockefeller, the rebels had to outrun and outsmart the swarm of U. S. authorities vested in protecting the Diaz regime. The U.S. Departments of War, State, Treasury, and Justice as well as police, sheriffs, and spies, hunted the magonistas across the country. Capturing Ricardo Flores Magón was one of the FBI’s first cases.

But the magonistas persevered. They lived in hiding, wrote in secret code, and launched armed raids into Mexico until they ignited the world’s first social revolution of the twentieth century.

Taking readers to the frontlines of the magonista uprising and the counterinsurgency campaign that failed to stop them, Kelly Lytle Hernández puts the magonista revolt at the heart of U.S. history. Long ignored by textbooks, the magonistas threatened to undo the rise of Anglo-American power, on both sides of the border, and inspired a revolution that gave birth to the Mexican-American population, making the magonistas’ story integral to modern American life.

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Nationally bestselling author Julissa Arce interweaves her own experiences with cultural commentary in a powerful polemic against the myth that assimilation leads to happiness and belonging for immigrants in America. Instead, she calls for a celebration of our uniqueness, our origins, our heritage, and the beauty of the differences that actually make us Americans.

“You sound like a white girl.” These were the words spoken to Julissa by a crush as she struggled to find her place in America. As a brown immigrant from Mexico, assimilation had been demanded of her since the moment she set foot in San Antonio, Texas, in 1994. She’d spent so much time getting rid of her accent so no one could tell English was her second language that in that moment she felt those words–you sound like a white girl–were a compliment. As a child, she didn’t yet understand that assimilating to “American” culture really meant imitating “white” America—that ‘sounding like a white girl’ was a racist idea meant to tame her, change her, and make her small. She ran the race, completing each stage, but never quite fit in, until she stopped running altogether.

In this dual polemic and manifesto, Julissa dives into and tears apart the lie that assimilation leads to belonging. She combs through history and her own story to break down this myth, arguing that assimilation is a moving finish line designed to keep Black and brown Americans and immigrants chasing racist American ideals. She talks about the Lie of Success, the Lie of Legality, the Lie of Whiteness, and the Lie of English – each promising that if you obtain these things, you will reach acceptance–you won’t be an outsider anymore. Instead, Julissa deftly argues, these demands leave her and those like her in a purgatory – neither able to secure the power and belonging of whiteness nor find it in the community and cultures whiteness demands we leave behind.

Here Julissa offers a bold new promise: Belonging only comes through celebrating yourself, your history, your culture, and everything that makes you uniquely you. Only in turning away from the white gaze can we truly make America beautiful. An America where difference is celebrated, heritage is shared and embraced, and belonging is for everyone. Through unearthing veiled history and reclaiming her own identity, Julissa shows us how to do this.

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Solito by Javier Zamora

Trip. My parents started using that word about a year ago—“one day, you’ll take a trip to be with us. Like an adventure.”

Javier Zamora’s adventure is a three-thousand-mile journey from his small town in El Salvador, through Guatemala and Mexico, and across the U.S. border. He will leave behind his beloved aunt and grandparents to reunite with a mother who left four years ago and a father he barely remembers. Traveling alone amid a group of strangers and a “coyote” hired to lead them to safety, Javier expects his trip to last two short weeks.

At nine years old, all Javier can imagine is rushing into his parents’ arms, snuggling in bed between them, and living under the same roof again. He cannot foresee the perilous boat trips, relentless desert treks, pointed guns, arrests and deceptions that await him; nor can he know that those two weeks will expand into two life-altering months alongside fellow migrants who will come to encircle him like an unexpected family.

A memoir as gripping as it is moving, Solito provides an immediate and intimate account not only of a treacherous and near-impossible journey, but also of the miraculous kindness and love delivered at the most unexpected moments. Solito is Javier Zamora’s story, but it’s also the story of millions of others who had no choice but to leave home.

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Inventing Latinos: A New Story of American Racism by Laura E. Gómez

Who are Latinos and where do they fit in America’s racial order? In this “timely and important examination of Latinx identity” (Ms.), Laura E. Gómez, a leading critical race scholar, argues that it is only recently that Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans, Central Americans, and others are seeing themselves (and being seen by others) under the banner of a cohesive racial identity. And the catalyst for this emergent identity, she argues, has been the ferocity of anti-Latino racism.

In what Booklist calls “an incisive study of history, complex interrogation of racial construction, and sophisticated legal argument,” Gómez “packs a knockout punch” (Publishers Weekly), illuminating for readers the fascinating race-making, unmaking, and re-making processes that Latinos have undergone over time, indelibly changing the way race functions in this country.

Building on the “insightful and well-researched” (Kirkus Reviews) material of the original, the paperback features a new afterword in which the author analyzes results of the 2020 Census, providing brilliant, timely insight about how Latinos have come to self-identify.

September is Deaf Awareness Month

The Davenport Public Library is putting on the Quad Cities Deaf Resource Fair on Thursday September 29th at our Eastern Avenue location.

Please join us at the Davenport Public Library Eastern Avenue location as we celebrate Deaf Awareness Month on Thursday, September 29th from 4-7 PM. The Resource Fair will include a wide variety of information available in the Quad Cities area for people who are Deaf, DeafBlind, Hard of Hearing and/or Late-Deafened. The Fair is open to the entire community and all ages are welcome. FREE food and beverages will be available and door prizes as well! The event is available to anyone in the community who wants to learn more about resources and information for the Deaf community! American Sign Language interpreters will be provided.

This event is brought to you by Relay Iowa, Telecommunications Access Iowa, Iowa/Illinois Center for Independent Living, Quad Cities Deaf Club & the Davenport Public Library.

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September is Deaf Awareness Month.  Below is a list of titles for all ages selected by our library staff.  This is by no means a definitive list. All descriptions are from NoveList, GoodReads, or the publishers.

Can Bears Ski? by Raymond Antrobus

Is Little Bear ignoring his friends when they say hi, or is something else going on? A discovery opens new doors in a tale that will delight kids with deafness and all children learning to navigate their world.

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El Deafo by Cece Bell

Starting at a new school is scary, even more so with a giant hearing aid strapped to your chest! At her old school, everyone in Cece’s class was deaf. Here she is different. She is sure the kids are staring at the Phonic Ear, the powerful aid that will help her hear her teacher. Too bad it also seems certain to repel potential friends.

Then Cece makes a startling discovery. With the Phonic Ear she can hear her teacher not just in the classroom, but anywhere her teacher is in school — in the hallway… in the teacher’s lounge… in the bathroom! This is power. Maybe even superpower! Cece is on her way to becoming El Deafo, Listener for All. But the funny thing about being a superhero is that it’s just another way of feeling different… and lonely. Can Cece channel her powers into finding the thing she wants most, a true friend?

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This is Kind of An Epic Love Story by Kacen Callender

Nathan Bird doesn’t believe in happy endings. Although he’s the ultimate film buff and an aspiring screenwriter, Nate’s seen the demise of too many relationships to believe that happy endings exist in real life.

Playing it safe to avoid a broken heart has been his MO ever since his father died and left his mom to unravel—but this strategy is not without fault. His best-friend-turned-girlfriend-turned-best-friend-again, Florence, is set on making sure Nate finds someone else. And in a twist that is rom-com-worthy, someone does come along: Oliver James Hernández, his childhood best friend.

After a painful mix-up when they were little, Nate finally has the chance to tell Ollie the truth about his feelings. But can Nate find the courage to pursue his own happily ever after?

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Disability Visibility  edited by Alice Wong

The seventeen eye-opening essays in Disability Visibility, all written by disabled people, offer keen insight into the complex and rich disability experience, examining life’s ableism and inequality, its challenges and losses, and celebrating its wisdom, passion, and joy.

The accounts in this collection ask readers to think about disabled people not as individuals who need to be “fixed,” but as members of a community with its own history, culture, and movements. They offer diverse perspectives that speak to past, present, and future generations. It is essential reading for all.

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You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P! by Alex Gino

Jilly thinks she’s figured out how life works. But when her sister Emma is born Deaf, she realizes how much she still has to learn.

A big fantasy reader, Jilly connects with another fan, Derek, who is a Deaf Black ASL user. She goes to Derek for advice but doesn’t always know the best way to ask for it and makes some mistakes along the way. Jilly has to step back to learn to be an ally, a sister, and a friend, understanding that life works in different ways for different people, and that being open to change can make you change in the best possible ways.

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Show Me A Sign by Ann Clare LeZotte

Deaf author and librarian Ann Clare LeZotte weaves a riveting Own Voices story inspired by the true history of a thriving deaf community on Martha’s Vineyard in the early 19th century.

Mary Lambert has always felt safe and protected on her beloved island of Martha’s Vineyard. Her great-great-grandfather was an early English settler and the first deaf islander. Now, over a hundred years later, many people there — including Mary — are deaf, and nearly everyone can communicate in sign language. Mary has never felt isolated. She is proud of her lineage.But recent events have delivered winds of change. Mary’s brother died, leaving her family shattered. Tensions over land disputes are mounting between English settlers and the Wampanoag people. And a cunning young scientist has arrived, hoping to discover the origin of the island’s prevalent deafness. His maniacal drive to find answers soon renders Mary a “live specimen” in a cruel experiment. Her struggle to save herself is at the core of this penetrating and poignant novel that probes our perceptions of ability and disability. It will make you forever question your own ideas about what is normal.

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Being Seen: One Deafblind Woman’s Fight to End Ableism by Elsa Sjunneson

A Deafblind writer and professor explores how the misrepresentation of disability in books, movies, and TV harms both the disabled community and everyone else.

As a Deafblind woman with partial vision in one eye and bilateral hearing aids, Elsa Sjunneson lives at the crossroads of blindness and sight, hearing and deafness—much to the confusion of the world around her. While she cannot see well enough to operate without a guide dog or cane, she can see enough to know when someone is reacting to the visible signs of her blindness and can hear when they’re whispering behind her back. And she certainly knows how wrong our one-size-fits-all definitions of disability can be.

As a media studies professor, she’s also seen the full range of blind and deaf portrayals on film, and here she deconstructs their impact, following common tropes through horror, romance, and everything in between. Part memoir, part cultural criticism, part history of the Deafblind experience, Being Seen explores how our cultural concept of disability is more myth than fact, and the damage it does to us all.

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Impossible Music by Sean Williams

Music is Simon’s life—which is why he is devastated when a stroke destroys his hearing. He resists attempts to help him adjust to his new state, refusing to be counselled, refusing to learn sign-language, refusing to have anything to do with Deaf culture. Refusing, that is, until he meets G, a tough-as-nails girl dealing with her own newly-experienced deafness.

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True Biz by Sara Novic

True biz (adj./exclamation; American Sign Language): really, seriously, definitely, real-talk

True biz? The students at the River Valley School for the Deaf just want to hook up, pass their history finals, and have politicians, doctors, and their parents stop telling them what to do with their bodies. This revelatory novel plunges readers into the halls of a residential school for the deaf, where they’ll meet Charlie, a rebellious transfer student who’s never met another deaf person before; Austin, the school’s golden boy, whose world is rocked when his baby sister is born hearing; and February, the hearing headmistress, a CODA (child of deaf adult(s)) who is fighting to keep her school open and her marriage intact, but might not be able to do both. As a series of crises both personal and political threaten to unravel each of them, Charlie, Austin, and February find their lives inextricable from one another—and changed forever.

This is a story of sign language and lip-reading, disability and civil rights, isolation and injustice, first love and loss, and, above all, great persistence, daring, and joy. Absorbing and assured, idiosyncratic and relatable, this is an unforgettable journey into the Deaf community and a universal celebration of human connection.

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Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

Ben and Rose secretly wish for better lives. Ben longs for the father he has never known. Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she chronicles in a scrapbook. When Ben discovers a puzzling clue in his mother’s room and Rose reads an enticing headline in the newspaper, both children set out alone on desperate quests to find what they are missing.

Set fifty years apart, these two independent stories – Ben’s told in words, Rose’s in pictures – weave back and forth in symmetry.

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Song for A Whale by Lynne Kelly

In the spirit of modern-day classics like Fish in a Tree and Counting by 7s comes the Schneider Family Book Award-winning story of a deaf girl’s connection to a whale whose song can’t be heard by his species, and the journey she takes to help him.

From fixing the class computer to repairing old radios, twelve-year-old Iris is a tech genius. But she’s the only deaf person in her school, so people often treat her like she’s not very smart. If you’ve ever felt like no one was listening to you, then you know how hard that can be.

When she learns about Blue 55, a real whale who is unable to speak to other whales, Iris understands how he must feel. Then she has an idea: she should invent a way to “sing” to him! But he’s three thousand miles away. How will she play her song for him?

Full of heart and poignancy, this affecting story by sign language interpreter Lynne Kelly shows how a little determination can make big waves.

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Unstoppable: Women With Disabilities written by Helen Wolfe, illustrated by Jaren Patkau

Ten very different disabled women, from neurosurgeon Dr. Karin Muraszko to environmental activist Greta Thunberg, who are making a difference in the world.
Around the world, people living with disabilities face barriers in the built environment, in employment and education, and in social attitudes and policies that can make it hard to live a full and satisfying life.

The ten women we meet in this book face physical and mental health challenges, some from birth and some who became disabled later in life. But they all share the determination to make the world a better place, not just for themselves but for those who will come after them. Their fields are as diverse as elite sport, neurosurgery, architecture, and environmental activism, and while some have devoted themselves to disability policy, others prefer to lead by example. In either case they have proved themselves to be unstoppable.

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Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf

When a tragic accident leaves nurse Amelia Winn deaf, she spirals into a depression that ultimately causes her to lose everything that matters—her job, her husband, David, and her stepdaughter, Nora. Now, two years later and with the help of her hearing dog, Stitch, she is finally getting back on her feet. But when she discovers the body of a fellow nurse in the dense bush by the river, deep in the woods near her cabin, she is plunged into a disturbing mystery that could shatter the carefully reconstructed pieces of her life all over again.

As clues begin to surface, Amelia finds herself swept into an investigation that hits all too close to home. But how much is she willing to risk in order to uncover the truth and bring a killer to justice?

Great Podcasts: Think Deeply

Most of the time, I want a podcast that’s going to make me laugh or tell me an interesting story (or preferably, both) but sometimes I want a podcast that’s mindful, thoughtful, and helps me see things in a new way. Here are a few podcasts to try if you’re looking for a moment of gentle profundity, or insight.

Poetry Unbound (or any of the On Being family of podcasts) is a particularly beautiful place to start, in my opinion. In Poetry Unbound, poet Padraig O Tuama reads a poem and offers insight into what the poet may be saying (about life, being human, etc.) before reading the poem a second time. A great podcast for feeling calm and profound. Other podcasts from On Being include the eponymous On Being, Becoming Wise, and This Movie Changed Me, all on the same theme of life’s meaning and personal transformation and insight.

For a print version of this podcast, try The Poetry Remedy, edited by William Sieghart, or for a timely collection, Together In A Sudden Strangeness: America’s Poets Respond to the Pandemic, edited by Alice Quinn.

If you’re looking for a podcast that makes you think and helps you rest, but also teaches you something new, you may like 99% Invisible. This popular podcast focuses on the design, architecture, and infrastructure which underlies our daily lives but all but completely escapes our notice. Aiming to help you see the world differently, it’s accompanied by a print book, The 99% Invisible City, by the show’s creator Roman Mars.

And of course, there are also podcasts to help you start a meditation and mindfulness practice, such as Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris. This podcast features guests, insights, and advice into how to live a more mindful life. Accompanying the audio insights is Harris’ 2014 book 10% Happier: How I Tamed The Voice in my Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works.  For a more practical, advice-based book, see Harris’ Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics.

Read This, Not That: Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

Good luck finding a copy of the sudden phenomenon known as Fifty Shades of Grey, a scintillating romance novel – the first in a trilogy – that’s stirred up a whirlwind of conversation lately. The novel started its life as an online-only Twilight fan fiction story; once it picked up some enthusiastic readers and momentum, Ms. James modified her main characters’ names, professions, and paranormal status and Fifty Shades was born. Since then, it’s found a major publisher and a movie deal in addition to a spot on the national scene. Find your reason for not reading this sexy novel below and read on for your next great read!

 

  • I like ‘romantica’ (romance novels with very erotic scenes), and I’ve already read (or I’m impatiently waiting for) this trilogy. What should I read next? If you’re a fan of the genre, try books by any of these authors, who mix plenty of sensual action into their happily-ever-afters: Shayla Black, Colette Gale, Kresley Cole, Zane, Janice Maynard, J.R. Ward, and Lora Leigh.
  • This book was too racy for me! For a gentler read with contemporary setting and a happily ever after, try any of these writers who focus on lighter romance: Lisa Kleypas, Jennifer Crusie, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Nora Roberts, and Rachel Gibson.
  • I’m so sick of Twilight and all its spin offs – whatever is the opposite of that is what I want to read. Try out these realistic, literary, thought-provoking novels for a reading experience just as compelling as the-vampire-book-that-must-not-be-named but minus all the bloodsucking, romantic quivering, and hype: Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell; The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach; Arcadia by Lauren Groff; The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt; Swamplandia! by Karen Russell; Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore. Nary a vampire in sight!
  • I want to read romance or erotica, but I’m embarrassed to let people see me with them. Don’t sweat it, a lot of us are in the same boat, and DPL has some awesome solutions! For the ultimate in anonymity, check out our WILBOR database of ebooks you can check out for free. You don’t have to own a smartphone, Nook, Kindle, or iPad – WILBOR offers tons of audiobooks that can be played from an mp3 player, and ebooks can frequently be read on your computer without transferring to an e-reader. Explore WILBOR’s help page or call the Reference desk if you need assistance. Also, don’t forget that all three branches have self-checkout counters, so you can pick out your favorites and none of the staff need to be any the wiser! Or take matters into your own hands with a Do-It-Yourself or inexpensive book cover. If anyone asks, just shrug and say, “oh, I’m finally trying to finish Middlemarch – the darn thing is just so long!” No one wants to talk about Middlemarch, so you’re free to read your salacious paperbacks in peace.

Book Watch : Finding Your Next Great Read

Ever wonder how other readers find great books? What sources do they search, what fount of wisdom to they consult? Contrary to popular myth, librarians do not get to sit around all day and read (if only!!) We’re looking for our next great read, just like you. So we’re introducing a new series of blog posts that will help you find the books you want to read – books, magazines, blogs (other than our very own Info Cafe, of course) that will point you in the right direction. First up: a sure fire winner from everyone’s favorite famous librarian.

The third title in Nancy Pearl’s growing series of what to read (after Book Lust and More Book Lust) is the newly published Book Lust to Go: Recommended Reading for Travelers, Vagabonds and Dreamers. Whether you’re a globe-trotting enthusiast or prefer to dream about other lands, Book Lust to Go will satisfy your wanderlust (Nancy owns up to being a determined non-traveler herself) Using the same format as her earlier books, topics are arranged in short, pithy chapters, with brief descriptions of recommended titles plus a few choice quotes to entice you into picking up a title. Subjects range from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, Texas to Tibet and include modes of transportation (hiking, walking, trains) and even a chapter cautioning on the hazards of travel (“It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time”) Coverage is idiosyncratic, covering countries, cities (Berlin, LasVegas), regions (Chesapeake Bay, Appalachia, Cornwall) and states (Ohio, Nebraska, Wyoming but sadly, no Iowa) There are some curious omissions but Nancy points out that many travel subjects and titles may have already been covered in her earlier books. You certainly won’t lack for interesting and exciting travel reading with just this book whether you’re planning your next adventure, or planning to sit comfortably by the fire and read about the adventures of others.

Nancy is a regular contributor NPR Morning Edition (usually airing on Fridays) where she always has interesting book recommendations. You can also follow her via her blog at NancyPearl.com where she has in-depth descriptions of her recommended titles, links to her NPR segments and access to the Book Lust Shop where you can buy her titles or a librarian action figure – and who doesn’t need one of those?

Watch for more Book Watch entries in the weeks to come!