As a Latinx, I have always craved stories that I can see myself in, like many of us. As we wrap up 2018 and look back on our top lists from the year, I want to take a minute to shout out some beautiful Latinx #ownvoices stories. Here are three books published in 2018 that if you haven’t read yet, should be on your radar for 2019. These authors have helped to pave the way for more diverse stories to be read by many future generations.
Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore, published October 2018
McLemore’s recent release is on the surface a fantastical retelling mashup of Snow-White and Rose-Red and Swan Lake. As you peel back the layers, it tackles topics including colorism, sexuality and gender. McLemore tells the story of sisters Blanca and Roja, the latest in a long line of del Cisne girls – a cursed Latinx family. In this family each generation has two daughters, but the curse upon the family states one daughter will survive while the other is to be taken by the swans that have haunted the family for years. Throughout the story McLemore’s flowery prose crafts an intricate tale of shattering stereotypes and expectations, in order to do what is right for yourself and the ones you love.
McLemore was born in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and taught by her family to hear la llorona in the Santa Ana winds. Her debut novel The Weight of Feathers was a Junior Library Guild Selection, a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults book, and a finalist for the William C. Morris Debut Award. Her second novel, When the Moon was Ours, was longlisted for the National Book Award in Young People’s Literature, and was a 2017 Stonewall Honor Book.
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, published March 2018
We follow Afro-Latina, Xiomara Batista, a young girl from Harlem, discovering her voice through slam poetry. Acevedo tells the story through prose, which makes the experience of this story such an impactful one. We are able to see Xiomara find her power among dealing with an absent father, religious mother, and slut-shaming. There is also queer representation, although it is not through the main character. Words influence this Xiomara and we see how words at their core can really change our perspective of the world.
Acevedo is the youngest child and only daughter of Dominican immigrants. With over fourteen years of performance poetry experience, Acevedo is a National Poetry Slam Champion, Cave Canem Fellow, CantoMundo Fellow, and participant of the Callaloo Writer’s Workshop. The Poet X is her debut novel. She lives with her partner in Washington, DC.
Bruja Born by Zoraida Córdova, published June 2018
Bruja Born is the second installment in the Brooklyn Brujas series. The first being Labyrinth Lost. To avoid spoilers, this series overall follows the Mortiz family, specifically Alex – the most powerful witch of her generation who happens to also hate her magic. At the core this book is about is about Latina women discovering their power aside from magic. It is a beautiful portrayal of Latinx culture. The world building is fantastical and is inspired loosely on Alice in Wonderland. For those who are fans of Charmed, this paranormal Latinx bruja novel will sweep you off your feet. There is also a healthy portrayal of bisexuality in this series which is executed very well done. The sequel Bruja Born follows Alex’s sister Lula as she navigates feeling overshadowed by Alex and the aftermath of a deadly bus crash while finding strength in her own powers.
Córdova was born in Ecuador and raised in Queens, New York. She is the author of The Vicious Deep trilogy and Brooklyn Brujas series. Labyrinth Lost, won an International Latino Book award and was named a Best Book of 2016 by Paste Magazine.