10 Books by Latina Authors You Need to Read Right Now

Young woman absorbed in a book as the sun sets in the background.

Whether you read 1 book a year or more, reading is a habit worth nurturing at any level you can. Finding books that resonate with you is one of the most difficult parts of becoming a reader, especially if you’re Latina. The publishing industry is predominantly white, but more and more Latina authors are breaking through. If you want to find characters you can relate to or be exposed to a different life experience than your own, here’s a list of 10 books by Latina authors you should check out:

Dominicana by Angie Cruz

Book cover of Dominicana by Angie Cruz

Angie Cruz

This is a character-focused historical fiction book that follows Ana Cancion, a 15-year-old girl who’s married off to a man over twice her age to secure her family’s future. Ana's experience is difficult when moving from the Dominican Republic to Harlem. The story is based on the story of the author’s own mother, and it’s an intimate, raw exploration of being a young girl trying to find her place in the world. Ana’s story has layers of complexity, exploring themes like language, culture, power dynamics, class, abuse, violence, war, and more. It’s a captivating story about the loss of one’s innocence, and it’s impossible to put down.

The Great Divide by Cristina Henriquez

Book cover of The Great Divide by Cristina Henriquez

Cristina Henriquez

Another historical fiction, “The Great Divide,” is a story set during the construction of the Panama Canal, focusing on the lives of the people who contributed to its creation. This book explores the personal cost of progress through a variety of characters. There’s Francisco, a local fisherman who has been affected by the construction of the canal; Omar, Francisco’s son who is a laborer looking for belonging; Ana Buntin, a 16-year-old from Barbados who’s resilient and hopeful; and John Oswald, a scientist fighting malaria in Panama. Henriquez explores ambition, sacrifice, and loyalty through these characters, shedding light on the diverse community of laborers, dreamers, and activists who shaped the Panama Canal.

Anita de Monte Laughs Last by Xochitl Gonzalez

Book cover of Anita de Monte Laughs Last by Xochitl Gonzalez

Xochitl Gonzalez

Xochitl Gonzalez is a New York Times bestselling author, and this novel follows a first-generation Ivy League student, Raquel, who stumbles upon the forgotten work of Anita de Monte, an artist who died suspiciously in 1985. Raquel, who is working on her final thesis, feels like she doesn’t belong and is buckling under the pressure of working twice as hard for the same opportunities as everyone else. However, when she becomes involved with an older art student, things start to change. It’s through Anita’s story and work, however, that Raquel starts to question the dynamics of her relationship. This explores themes like love, power, and art from the perspectives of two different women.

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Book cover of With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Elizabeth Acevedo

We have another New York Times bestselling author! Known for “The Poet X,” Elizabeth Acevedo is an Afro-Latina shedding light on Dominican-American and Afro-Caribbean culture. “With the Fire on High” is a Young Adult novel that follows Emoni Santiago, a young mother who takes care of her daughter and her abuela. Emoni is in her high school senior year, so she’s balancing her current responsibilities and the pursuit of her dream of becoming a chef. The kitchen is the one place where she can let everything go and work her magic. The book is beautifully written and it has you rooting for Emoni, wishing you could try some of her delicious food.

Like Happiness by Ursula Villarreal-Moura

Book cover of Like Happiness by Ursula Villarreal-Moura

Ursula Villarreal-Moura

In this contemporary literary fiction, Ursula Villarreal-Moura explores the dynamics of gender, fame, and power. The story follows Tatum Vega, a young woman who had a tumultuous relationship with a famous writer, M. Domínguez, in New York City. After 10 years, Tatum rebuilt her life in Chile and has a new partner, Vera, but their world is turned upside down when Tatum gets a call from a reporter investigating Domínguez for assault. Forced to revisit her past, Tatum reflects on her past relationship and explores themes like gender, fame, Latino identity, power dynamics in relationships, and more.

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henr\u00edquez

Cristina Henriquez

People who have immigrated to the U.S. from South and Central American countries will see themselves reflected in the pages of this book. The story follows a cast of sympathetic characters and it explores the love story between a Panamanian boy and a Mexican girl who live in an apartment complex full of immigrant families. This book provides many different perspectives, and it explores the struggle of pursuing the mythical American Dream. It’s poignant, beautifully written, and very moving, so you may need to have some tissues at hand.

Fury by Clyo Mendoza

Book cover of Fury by Clyo Mendoza

Clyo Mendoza

Written by Mexican poet and novelist, Clyo Mendoza, “Fury” takes place in a desolate desert, and it follows a few different characters. We have Lázaro and Juan, soldiers from opposing factions who desert, fall in love with each other, and discover a dark truth. The story also follows Vicente, a salesman, who’s spending his last days tied up like a dog, and Salvador, a morgue worker lost in the desert who sees people he loves in every cactus he encounters. All of these characters are imprisoned in the desert, and Mendoza uses them to explore the complexity of the human condition. The writing is eloquent and sensitive, and it explores both love and suffering in an often disturbing but always mesmerizing way.

Belonging: A Daughter’s Search for Identity Through Loss and Love by Michelle Miller

Book cover of Belonging: A Daughter\u2019s Search for Identity Through Loss and Love by Michelle Miller

Michelle Miller

If you prefer nonfiction to fiction, this memoir by Michelle Miller is very insightful. Miller is an award-winning journalist and the co-host of CBS Saturday Morning who explores race, identity, and family secrets through this book. Miller was abandoned at birth by her mother and her father’s dying wish is for them to meet. This sends Miller on a quest as she explores the relationship between her Chicana mother and African American father. In this memoir, Miller seeks identity and gets personal about her experiences as a mixed-race person living in America. It’s poignant and reflective about the things that define us.

The Waves Take You Home by María Alejandra Barrios Vélez

Book cover of The Waves Take You Home by Mar\u00eda Alejandra Barrios V\u00e9lez

María Alejandra Barrios Vélez

“The Waves Take You Home” is a heartfelt story with magical realism elements. The story follows Violeta Sanoguera, a Colombian woman who was encouraged by her mother and grandmother to move to New York City to study art and leave the man she loved behind. She builds a new life in NYC, but when her grandmother suddenly dies and she hops on a plane back to Colombia, she’s forced to confront her past. The ghost of her grandmother accompanies Violeta and she goes on a journey where she reconnects with her roots and discovers her true self after years of always doing whatever her family asked of her. That’s an experience many Latinas can relate to and this book explores it quite beautifully.

La Mala Suerte Is Following Me by Ana Siqueira

Book cover for La Mala Suerte Is Following Me by Ana Siqueira

Ana Siqueira

Last but not least, “La Mala Suerte Is Following Me” is a lovely children’s book that people of all ages can enjoy. It’s a picture book with whimsical, beautiful illustrations centered around Latino superstitions. Written by Brazilian author Ana Siqueira, the story follows Miguel, a young boy who ignored his grandmother’s warning about opening an umbrella indoors and accidentally invited La Mala Suerte into his life. After that, all sorts of unfortunate things start to happen to him and he goes on a quest to find something that will help him get rid of his bad luck. It’s a funny exploration of superstition with a nice message about making one’s own luck.

From left to right: LaToyia Figueroa, Natalee Holloway and Tamika Huston, all of whom went missing in 2004-2005.

A phenomenon known as "Missing White Woman Syndrome" has long plagued the media, referring to a tendency to sensationalize and disproportionately cover cases involving white women who are often also young, attractive, and middle-class.

Keep ReadingShow less
a woman holding a USA flag with the blue sky as a background

The 4th of July, with its effervescent blend of backyard barbecues, vibrant fireworks, and patriotic hymns, is an opportune moment to reflect on what being a Latino in America means amidst the commemoration of the nation's birth.

Keep ReadingShow less