Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with these teen novels that use family secrets, friendships and first love to explore Hispanic culture while also examining bullying, discrimination and homelessness.
You may not recognize the author's name, but you may recognize her face, as Sonia Manzano has portrayed Maria on "Sesame Street" since its inception in 1969. The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano, her first teen novel, is set in Spanish Harlem during the late 1960s and is based on true events of "El Barrio."
Evelyn, who is starting a new job away from her Puerto Rican family’s grocery store, struggles with her identity. Throw in Abuela, her sassy grandmother, and Evelyn’s life as she knew it begins to evolve. Will she decide to risk all and join the Puerto Rican activist group, the Young Lords? This historical fiction book is a wonderful read set in 1969 in New York City.
Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass. That title gets right to the point. No doubt whatsoever what this book’s main theme is: bullying. But this book is so much more than that. Piddy Sanchez deals with real-life issues of her best friend moving away, first love, new friendships and unearthing family secrets.
I don’t think bullying is any more prevalent now than when I was growing up. It is just now out in the open and discussed as more kids are learning to speak up. However, we still hear of sad cases when bullying has catastrophic results. See how Piddy is able to find the courage to expose Yaqui Delgado and then move forward with her life once again. Meg Medina’s novel is a heart-wrenching read that reached down to the bottom of my soul in a way no book has in a long time.
“Teenagers need a second chance, a little hope, a little help, and someone to believe in them.”-- Sheryl Feinstein