1) A House of My Own: Stories from My Life – Sandra Cisneros
Ms. Cisneros has once again given us a great read; a delightful memoir. She does a fantastic job of weaving her memories of her life from 1984 through 2014 and nicely blends her family stories of her time in Chicago and Mexico detailing the rich Latino culture. Very charming indeed!
2) Burro Genius – Victor Villasenor
This is true story of Victor Villasenor as he is growing up in the 1940s envisioning the life of cowboy like he has seen in western movies and learned from his father. Quickly, however, he finds himself in an all American school system where he doesn’t fit it and due to his undiagnosed dyslexia and limited English, it becomes rather daunting for him. He writes about his experience as a young boy providing chilling childhood experiences, but yet the reader will find humor throughout this spirited memoir. This book will go down as one of the classics of old time along with his best seller novel Rain of Gold.
3) Taking Hold: From Migrant Childhood to Columbia University – Francisco Jimenez
This book is part of a continuing series of memoirs. It is well written and a great compelling story of this author’s journey from a Migrant worker to attaining a Ph.D. The book provides insight into the life of a migrant worker, his courtship and romance of his wife, his academia life, and how he manages to survive in this environment. With the influence of one of his professors, he moves in the direction of exploring the plight of the Mexican Indians which takes him on a whole new journey. This whole experience will continue to be an integral part of his identity and his outlook of life.
4) Along the Way – Martin Sheen & Emilio Estevez
This is a dual memoir by father and son. This book provides the reader with an in-depth look into their lives and how they navigate the Hollywood scene. As a bonus, the book details many behind-the-scenes stories provided by other notable actors and directors. This is a really good insight into the Hollywood world and their personal lives.
5) A Place to Stand – Jimmy Santiago Baca
This memoir, details Mr. Baca’s life before, during, and immediately after the years he spent in a maximum-security prison. This book has received much critical acclaim and also won the prestigious 2001 International Prize. Mr. Baca overcame many obstacles such as being illiterate at the age of twenty-one and eventually facing five to ten years behind bars for selling drugs, yet he became known as one of America’s best poets. This book is the story of how he emerged from prison, much of it spent in isolation, and yet he learned to read and love poetry. It is a story that portrays the affirmation of a human soul to overcome the odds and find his place in society. This is quite a book and a must have on your list to read.
6)The Cruel Country – Judith Ortiz Cofer
“I am learning the alchemy of grief—how it must be carefully measured and doled out, inflicted—but I have not yet mastered this art,” writes Judith Ortiz Cofer in The Cruel Country. This moving memoir centers on Cofer’s return to her native Puerto Rico after her mother has been diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer. She arrives at her mother’s bedside as a daughter overcome by grief, but she navigates this cruel country as a writer still an observer of detail and a relentless and insistent questioner.
7) Staying Strong: 365 Days of the Year – Demi Lovato
This self-help book took the number one spot on the ‘Advice, How-To & Miscellaneous’ section of the New York Times Best Sellers List. This book is full of insight and is truly inspirational to young adults embarking on difficult paths. This is a great book for many teenagers.
8) Cancerlandia! – Juan Alvarado Valdivia
Although this memoir is about the author’s struggle when being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, it is written with such candor that you will find it thought provoking. The author goes into detail with his thoughts, weaknesses, and struggle in dealing with this life and death situation. You can’t help but wonder what you would do in his place if you had been given this unfortunate news.
9) Excavation – Wendy C. Ortiz
This book is about an insecure girl living with alcoholic parents in the San Fernando Valley, California during the late 1980s and early 1990s. It is the story or her relationship with a teacher fifteen years her senior who appears to provide her the kind of power that teenagers may want. Her teacher, currently a registered sex offender, makes her promise not to disclose their dangerous sexual relationship. This conflicted relationship will change her life forever. In this book you will find that not all is black and white, but rather gives way to unsettling shades of gray. A powerful story.
10) Bendicion: The Complete Poetry of Tato Laviera
His writing reflects his bilingual Nuyorican experience. He was born in Puerto Rico but was raised in New York City. Unfortunately he died in 2013; however, his book of poetry includes much of the person he was and his experiences. His style of writing is beautiful and melodic at times, but then it also can become serious as it captures life in the raw. With his poetic writing he explores identity, urban life, and oppression all with expressive words placed in beautiful fashion. What a talented writer he was!