This article was written as part of Latinitas Magazine Workshop, find out more information here.
I love reading many different book genres that carry a life lesson or just take you to another world to envision. As soon as I find the right book to read I will not put it down till I know what happens to each of the characters. So if you’re looking for book recommendations that will have you crying your eyes out, well I can help with that. These four books are about Hispanic and Latino characters who each go through their own struggles of life. Each of these books stood out to me because I noticed they all have one thing in common and that’s the desire for their voice to be heard by the world.
- Efren Divided by Ernesto Cisneros
This is about a boy named Efren who looks up to his Ama as “Souperwoman” or superwoman when she’s making delicious Mexican sopes. They live in a small apartment with Apa and two younger siblings Max and Mia. Both of his parents work hard to provide for them. Efren is American-born, but he still fears something can happen since both of his parents are undocumented. It becomes his reality when Ama doesn’t come back from work and learns that she’s been deported by ICE across the border to Tijuana Mexico. Now Efren must channel his inner Sober Boy to help take care of his sibling.
This book made me really bawl my eyes out for what Efren has to endure without his Ama. It shares awareness of how some children have to deal with their parents being taken away by the ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and not knowing when they can ever come home again. Showing us Efren’s struggles now having to step up to take care of his family and balance his school life. I recommend this book because it demonstrates how we have to have our hearts cry during the most challenging moments in our lives, but we must rise up to be there for the people we love.
2. Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna by Alda P. Dobbs
In 1913, twelve-year-old Petra Luna is having to face the rages of the Revolution in Mexico. Her mama died during it before her papa was taken away by the soldiers. Ever since that day, she vowed to her papa that she would protect Abuelita, her little sister Amelia, and her baby brother Luisitio. They flee after their home and town is burned, searching for a safe place in a world that’s broken. Every single night Petra still dreams of learning to read; not paying attention to Abuelita calling them “Barefoot Dreams”- not meant to go far. Throughout the rough and harsh journey, Petra is determined to protect her family at all costs and lead them to a better life across the United States border. Petra’s barefoot dreams can possibly be a reality.
I loved this book because the journey it takes you on is like nothing you could ever expect, along with the inspiration and history behind it. Petra’s story is based on the author Alda’s great-grandmother who lived through the Mexican Revolution and is based on real-life events during the 1910s. I didn’t even know what the Mexican Revolution was fully about, until reading through Petra’s view on what it was like for some children to face the harshness of war and the violence of it. I suggest this book to anyone looking for a character like Petra who is having to go through different obstacles but doesn’t let anyone’s words or the brutal world stop her.
3. The Other Side of the River by Alda P. Dobbs
This is the second book to Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna. The story continues with Petra and her family trying to build a new life after escaping the Mexican Revolution. Taking refuge in a smallpox-stricken camp on the Texas border to the city of San Antonio, where it’s a chance for them to find work opportunities. Even a chance for Petra to learn to read and write. Yet the attitudes of America are just like the ones she thought she left behind on the Rio Grande, people who look down on her mestizo skin and bare feet, thinking she doesn’t deserve more in life. Now Petra must use her strength and courage like never before to fight for herself, her family, and her dreams.
After reading the Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna I jumped right away to the second book to continue where they left off. I was glad that Alda resumed their journey now taking place in a refugee camp on the Texas border. Reading how Petra is now having her dream come true to be able to read and write made me really delighted for her. I realized from this that we sometimes take advantage of knowing how to read and write, but others just like Petra didn’t get this chance like we do. I recommend this book since it continues to show the growth of Petra and her family adjusting to their new lives. Along with possibly having all their dreams come true.
4. Each Of Us A Desert by Mark Oshiro
Xochitl is known as the “La Cuentista” destined to wander the desert alone, who speaks for the dreams and memories of the troubled village into the wind. Armed with only “the blessed stars above and enigmatic lines of poetry magically strewn across dusty dunes.” The only secret she desires is finding the courage to be honest and tell her own story just like the unknown poet. On the night she sets off to escape the villager’s burdens, her wish is granted in the form of Emilia, “the cold and beautiful daughter of the town’s murderous conqueror.” As the two set off on this unimaginable journey across the desert, they find their hearts could have the same desire…if they can survive the nightmares that emerge when the sun starts to set.
I enjoyed reading this book very much and the LGBT representation. I can somewhat resonate with Xochitl wanting her voice to be heard because sometimes I have trouble wanting to say my opinion, which anyone can relate to. I found it astonishing that people would put their burdens on Xochitl just because she’s “La Cuentista”, rather than finding a way to manage it themselves. Even the chemistry between Emilia and Xochitl both wanting to be free and have their wishes come true. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a journey that you won’t want to end soon.
“Which book do you want to read?”