Lost Children Archive
Published earlier this year, the critically acclaimed Lost Children Archive follows a blended family on a cross-country trip from New York City to the Arizona-Mexico border. As they drive, the father tells stories of Apache legend, and they listen to news reports of the border crisis, of lost children and broken families trying to piece themselves together. Then the unthinkable happens to the road-tripping family—the two children get lost, and they must rely on the stories they heard to find their way home.
With Sudden Death, Enrigue imagines a tennis match between Baroque painter Caravaggio and Spanish poet Quevedo, using the centuries-old sport as a backdrop to explore history, language, reality, and art. It’s genre-bending and bizarre, packed with historical context and self-referential—but it’s also unexpectedly funny and loads of fun to read. You don’t want to miss out on this novel, which Salman Rushdie (very accurately) called “brilliantly original.”
Swift as Desire
Júbilo has always had the ability to read and understand people, to hear their inner thoughts and desires. Yet, at the end of his life, he is completely estranged from his wife, unable to communicate with her. In his final days, Júbilo and Lucha’s daughter sets out to figure out what went wrong in her parents’ love story, what caused their rift, and if there’s any hope for them to reconcile their past. A simultaneously drama-filled and compassionate tale from the author of Like Water for Chocolate.
Castillo’s The Guardians is a heartrending, realistic portrayal of life on the border for a family straddling cultures and countries. In a New Mexican town near the border, Tía Regina is caring for her 16-year-old nephew, Gabo, while his father, Rafa, attempts to cross illegally into the United States. When Rafa goes missing, Regina and Gabo set out on a dangerous mission to track him down, relying on their own will and strength, as well as help from those in their community, to find him.
Across the Wire
This nonfiction title from 1993 explores the lands just south of the United States–Mexico border, what Urrea calls the Borderlands. Urrea was born in Tijuana, but it wasn’t until he worked for a missionary in the Borderlands in the 1970s and ’80s that he saw the full extent of corruption and poverty in the area. Across the Wire offers glimpses of what he witnessed: the cruelty and misery of a life of poverty, and the many people who are forced to survive in it.
Pick up The Underdogs, published over a hundred years ago, and you’ll find yourself transported to the heart of the Mexican Revolution, in which Azuela himself served, in the early twentieth century. When a peasant named Demetrio Macías has a violent run-in with a group of federal soldiers, he decides to leave his family and join the rebels’ cause. As he climbs the ranks of Pancho Villa’s army, the movement begins to splinter from within and Demetrio realizes that he’s no longer sure what he’s fighting for.
Sure, you know Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street, but have you read Caramelo? Told in a series of vignette-like sections, Caramelo is a beautiful, multi-generational story about family history and storytelling. Lala has never loved her family’s annual trip from their home in the US to her grandparents’ house in Mexico City, and she certainly doesn’t love spending time with Awful Grandmother Soledad. But as Lala dives unravels her family’s history, she finally starts to understand how her relatives’ experiences shaped who they are, including the story of how her grandmother and Little Grandfather met and married.
The Book of Lamentations
Originally published in 1962 and inspired by real-life rebellions, The Book of Lamentations offers a fictionalized account of Mayan uprisings of 1712 and 1868 and sets them in 1930s Chiapas, Mexico. The story chronicles the events leading up to an indigenous community’s rebellion against the wealthy ranchers, who are resisting recent land reforms. Castellanos builds a memorable cast of characters, honing in on each of their motives and actions, and doesn’t shy away from the complexity and violence of cultural, political, and religious conflicts.
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
Erika L. Sánchez
For readers seeking out a young adult option, look no further than this National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestseller. Fifteen-year-old Julia has never been a “perfect” Mexican daughter like her older sister, Olga. Julia’s parents think Julia is impulsive and rebellious; Julia thinks her parents are overbearing and judgmental. When Olga dies in a tragic accident, Julia finds herself revisiting her cultural roots, searching for traces of Olga, and uncovering unexpected details about her sister’s life.
The Inexplicable Logic of My Life
Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Sáenz is a proven expert at approaching tough topics in YA with a delicate hand. In this coming-of-age tale, Sal is feeling the pressure as college approaches: He’s worried about his best friend’s health, he’s sick of hearing homophobic remarks about his adoptive dad, and he’s been feeling an anger deep inside that scares him. While he adores his dad, he can’t help but wonder if learning about his birth father would help him understand himself. The Inexplicable Logic of My Life is an honest, hopeful, compassionate, and beautifully written story about what it means to love and be a family.
Celebrate Mexican history and culture with these fantastic books by Mexican writers that journey into the homes of Mexican-American families and into the heart of Mexico itself. From imaginative new novels to must-read classics to contemporary YA stories, here are some of our favorite fiction and nonfiction titles by Mexican and Chicano authors.