1) Young Pistolero – Robert J. Alvarado
At the age of seventeen, Rafael Ortega shoots the haciendero who raped his younger sister. This incident changes his life in a direction he never thought possible. He then steals the haciendero’s Appaloosa stallion and heads north into the United States. The time is 1866. He finds a new life full of various dangers and with it comes a promise of a different life.
2) Battle for a Soul – Manuel A Melendez
This story is about a mother, two boys, and three daughters trying to survive in New York after having moved from Puerto Rico. With the encouragement of the husband, who has moved to the U.S. mainland first, the family follows looking for a better way of life only to find much despair and horror. The family noticeably begins to battle a curse from the past that comes in the form of an evil spirit. The spirit, named Eduardo, once loved the mother from a distance and will stop at nothing to possess her. The evil spirit is determined to possess the mother, destroy her family, and take the youngest son’s soul.
3) You Must Fight Them – Maceo Montoya
This book is comprised of six short stories that will keep you wishing each was a full length book. Each of the stories is so captivating that you hate it when they end. This is a testament to the writer’s talent. For example, in one of his stories a student must fight three brothers in order to date their sister. Although all the characters in the story are Latino, he and the brothers come from different worlds; the main character is an intellect, the brothers are not. The story takes an interesting turn and Mr. Montoya captures perfectly the thoughts of how the protagonist will navigate through this trial and tribulation to get his prize. All the stories are memorable and just good writing.
4)Geographies Of Home – Loida Maritza Perez
When Iliana, a first-generation Dominican American woman, returns home to Brooklyn from college she finds her family on the brink of collapse – they are falling apart. Her sister is on the brink of mental shutdown, another sister lives in an abusive situation, and the third sister has disappeared. This book captures much of the anger, desperation, and contradictions that come with these scenarios, yet it also manages to detail the superstitions and joys that come in a destructive family unit. IIiana is caught between two cultures and this book offers insight into this as well as the true meaning of personal identity and home. This book excellently captures Latino culture and traditions in the raw.
5) The Water of Life Remains in the Dead – Maria Nieto
This is a great suspense novel that includes murder and intrigue and an ugly underground movement. The author has done an excellent job of using forensic science to help solve the murders and to capture the true criminals. The story includes many twists and turns that you won’t expect.
6) The Book of Unknown Americans – Cristina Henríquez
When Alma and Arturo Rivera’s daughter, Maribel, suffers a tragic accident, the family uproots their middle-class Mexican existence and move to Delaware to seek help and better opportunities for their daughter. This move takes the family on a journey they hadn’t bargained for as Maribel meets Mayor Toro at a Dollar Tree store and both fall in love. This leads to a friendship between the families and much intrigue.
7) The God Box – Alex Sanchez
This is a Lambda Literary Award winning author that has written a story which tackles the exploration of what it means to be both gay and religious. He has done this through a story depicting adolescents and how they deal with this issue. A very thought provoking book that will make you question your moral code one way or another. This is an excellent read.
8) Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida – Victor Martinez
An oldie but goodie! Fourteen year old Manny Hernandez’ father categorizes everyone by money; dollar bills and coins. Manny wants to be more than a penny and wants to be respected. He has some challenges as his father is also abusive and his mother tries to wash away her troubles through constantly cleaning. Manny’s home base is besieged by gangs and this also presents another problem; should he join or not.
9) Across the Border: Interview With a Refugee – I.C. Rivera
This is an excellent narrative of the life of refugees and could take place anywhere, but is especially relevant today. The story revolves around a Latina girl, Isabel Alvarez, who goes to the Netherlands on a whim. As Isabel navigates through this multicultural society she meets an Assyrian individual named Samir who is a refugee in that country. Her class assignment is to interview a refugee so she chooses him. This leads to an internal transition for herself and I will bet for many readers as well. The story is magically told detailing the lives of Assyrians; a persecuted and forgotten people of the world. This is a great humanitarian story.
10)Negras: Stories of Puerto Rican Slave Women – Yolanda Arroyo Puzarro
The slave trade is nothing short of a holocaust. Many people’s lives were stolen, uprooted, and destroyed for the greed of the more ‘civilized’ white man. Though, when it comes to slavery in general, we often think about Africans taken from West Africa and brought directly to Europe or America; particularly the South. In fact, the term slavery conjures up many images such as plantations, cotton picking, ships, whippings, death, injustice, etc. I could list so many more images of this dark time of slavery in our history and this saddens me; however, these raw and thought provoking things are what make this book stand out because it captures the atrocities of slavery overall.The Trilogy, Negras: Stories of Puerto Rican Slave Women is a small book comprised of three narrative stories. The three stories are fictional; however, they are powerful. These stories are masterfully written and will leave you touched, enlightened, and at the same time will make you question humanity.