Coming of Age: Big Changes

Adolescence is full of ups and downs and twists and turns. The young people featured in these stories face big changes such as moving to a new neighborhood or adjusting to the loss of a loved one. Recommended for grades 7-12.

Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx

Age Level: 16-18

Set in the 1950s in the Bronx, the story of Emmy award-winning actress and writer Sonia Manzano ("Maria" from Sesame Street) plunges us into the daily lives of a Latino family that is loving and troubled. When readers meet young Sonia, she is a child living amidst the squalor of a boisterous home that is filled with noisy relatives and nosy neighbors. Each day she is glued to the TV screen that blots out the painful realities of her existence and also illuminates the possibilities that lie ahead.

Burn Baby Burn

Nora Lopez is seventeen during the infamous New York summer of 1977, when the city is besieged by arson, a massive blackout, and a serial killer named Son of Sam who shoots young women on the streets. Nora’s family life isn’t going so well either: her bullying brother, Hector, is growing more threatening by the day, her mother is helpless and falling behind on the rent, and her father calls only on holidays. All Nora wants is to turn eighteen and be on her own.

Downtown Boy

Age Level: 12-14

"In 1950s California, 10-year-old Juanito is tired of moving with his migrant-worker parents and staying in relatives' homes in San Francisco's Mission District. He aches for his often-absent father. Finally, Papi returns, and home becomes San Diego, where Juanito settles into a deeper sense of place and faces family secrets and hardship." — Booklist

Dreams of Significant Girls

Age Level: 14-16

Product Description: Brought together each summer at a boarding school in Switzerland, three girls learn a lot more than just French and European culture. Shirin, an Iranian princess; Ingrid, a German-Canadian eccentric; and Vivien, a Cuban-Jewish New Yorker culinary phenom, are thrown into each other's lives when they become roommates. This is a story of 3 paths slowly beginning to cross and merge as they spend the summers together and form an unbreakable bond.

Echo: A Novel

Age Level: 9-12

Product Description: Pam Muñoz Ryan weaves together three stories of young people living through a tumultuous period in the 20th century: 12-year-old Friedrich Schmidt in 1933 Germany, as the Nazi Party gains momentum; orphaned 11-year-old Mike Flannery in 1935 Philadelphia during the Depression; and Ivy Maria Lopez living in Southern California in 1942 as World War II rages. Their stories revolve around a single Hohner Marine Band harmonica and are framed by a tale of a lost boy, three sisters, and a witch's curse. Newbery Honor Book.

Facts of Life: Stories

By: Gary Soto
Age Level: 12-14

"Pivotal moments in the lives of California Latino teens and tweens provide the starting points for Soto's collection of 10 new stories. For Letty, it's the realization that her boyfriend loves her money more than he does her; for Hector, it's the announcement of his parents' plan to divorce; for Laurita, a Chicana, it's the discovery that she's illegal; and for Lisa, it's the experience of a moment of beauty in her otherwise drab life." — Booklist

Habibi

Illustrated by: Raúl Colón
Age Level: 12-14

The day after Liyana got her first real kiss, her life changed forever. Not because of the kiss, but because it was the day her father announced that the family was moving from St. Louis all the way to Palestine. Though her father grew up there, Liyana knows very little about her family's Arab heritage. Her grandmother and the rest of her relatives who live in the West Bank are strangers, and speak a language she can't understand. It isn't until she meets Omer that her homesickness fades. But Omer is Jewish, and their friendship is silently forbidden in this land.

I Lived on Butterfly Hill

Illustrated by: Lee White
Age Level: 9-12

Product Description: Celeste Marconi is a dreamer. She lives peacefully among friends and neighbors and family in the idyllic town of Valparaiso, Chile — until the time comes when even Celeste, with her head in the clouds, can't deny the political unrest that is sweeping through the country and is eventually sent by her parents to Maine. Accented with interior artwork, steeped in the history of Pinochet's catastrophic takeover of Chile, and based on many true events, this multicultural ode to the power of revolution, words, and love is both indelibly brave and heartwrenchingly graceful.

I Wanna Be Your Shoebox

Age Level: 12-14

Product Description: Because Yumi Ruíz-Hirsch has grandparents from Japan, Cuba, and Brooklyn, her mother calls her a poster child for the twenty-first century. Yumi would laugh if only her life wasn't getting as complicated as her heritage. Yumi wishes everything could stay the same. But as she listens to her grandfather tell his story, she learns that nobody ever asks you if you're ready for life to happen.

Leaving Glorytown: One Boy's Struggle Under Castro

Age Level: 12-14

"This is a rare look at Cuban life from 1959 to 1969, when Calcines' family managed to emigrate. The author was born into an exuberant extended family whose enjoyable lives changed abruptly after the revolution. Food became scarce, jobs disappeared, and harsh restrictions were imposed. Eventually, Calcines' parents made the difficult choice to apply for a visa to America. From then on, life became a daily nightmare…Calcines' book will captivate readers and open a door to a subject seldom written about for teens." — Booklist

Marcelo In The Real World

Age Level: 14-16

Marcelo Sandoval, a 17-year-old with an Asperger's-like condition, has arranged a job caring for ponies at his special school's therapeutic-riding stables. But he is forced to exit his comfort zone when his high-powered father steers Marcelo to work in his law firm's mailroom…Readers enter his private world as he navigates the unfamiliar realm of menial tasks and office politics with the ingenuity of a child, his voice never straying from authenticity even as the summer strips away some of his differences. — Publishers Weekly

Milagros: Girl from Away

Age Level: 9-12

Milagros de le Torre hasn’t had an easy life: ever since her father sailed away with pirates she’s been teased at school, and her family struggles to make ends meet. Still, Milagros loves her small island in the Caribbean, and she finds comfort in those who recognize her special gifts. But everything changes when marauders destroy Milagros’s island and with it, most of the inhabitants. Milagros manages to escape in a rowboat where she drifts out to sea with no direction, save for the mysterious manta rays that guide her to land.

Poe Park

Age Level: 12-14

"The day after Enoch Morales graduates from elementary school, his mother throws him a surprise eleventh-birthday party, and his best friend, Spencer, gives him an iguana. The following day, the two boys are playing outside when Spencer is shot and killed. Over the summer, Enoch tries to cope with his shock and anger, his growing certainty that Spencer had become involved in a gang, and his mixed feelings about his older half brother, who has moved from Puerto Rico to New York City to live with Enoch and his mother.

Return to Sender

Age Level: 9-12

When Tyler's father is injured in a tractor accident, the family decides to hire a family of Mexican migrant workers. For Tyler, the workers' presence on the farm — as well as that of the three young daughters — is shrouded in mystery. As he develops a friendship with Mari, the eldest, he begins to wonder about the family's immigration status and what it means to be patriotic. In the meantime, Mari struggles with her own complicated feelings and worries about her mother, who is missing.

Sylvia & Aki

Age Level: 9-12

Product Description: Sylvia Mendez never expected to be at the center of a landmark legal battle; all she wanted was to enroll in school. Aki Munemitsu never expected to be relocated to a Japanese internment camp in the Arizona desert; all she wanted was to stay on her family farm and finish the school year. The two girls certainly never expected to know each other, until their lives intersected in Southern California during a time when their country changed forever. Based on a true story.

The Color of My Words

Age Level: 9-12

Product Description: Twelve-year-old Ana Rosa is a blossoming writer growing up in the Dominican Republic, a country where words are feared. Yet there is so much inspiration all around her — watching her brother search for a future, learning to dance and to love, and finding out what it means to be part of a community — that Ana Rosa must write it all down. As she struggles to find her own voice and a way to make it heard, Ana Rosa realizes the power of her words to transform the world around her — and to transcend the most unthinkable of tragedies.

The Jumping Tree

Age Level: 9-12

Product Description: These lively stories follow Rey Castaneda from sixth through eighth grade in Nuevo Penitas, Texas. As Rey begins to cross the border from childhood into manhood, he turns from jokes and games to sense the meaning of work, love, poverty, and grief, and what it means to be a proud Chicano — moments that sometimes propel him to show feelings un hombre should never express. It's a new territory where Rey longs to follow the example his hardworking, loving father has set for him.

The Pregnancy Project: A Memoir

Age Level: 14-16

Product Description: Growing up, Gaby Rodriguez was often told she would end up a teen mom. Gaby had ambitions that didn't include teen motherhood. But she wondered: how would she be treated if she "lived down" to others' expectations? These questions sparked Gaby's school project: faking her own pregnancy as a high school senior to see how her family, friends, and community would react. What she learned changed her life forever, and made international headlines in the process.

The Tequila Worm

Age Level: 12-14

Sofia is a Mexican-American living in Texas. When she is accepted to a prestigious, predominantly white boarding school, she learns how to meld her Mexican-American roots with her new life. The author includes lots of detail about Mexican culture and heritage.

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass

Age Level: 14-16

One morning before school, some girl tells Piddy Sanchez that Yaqui Delgado hates her and wants to kick her ass. Piddy doesn’t even know who Yaqui is, never mind what she’s done to get her attention. But as the harassment escalates, avoiding Yaqui and her gang starts to take over Piddy’s life. Is there any way for Piddy to survive without closing herself off or running away? In an all-too-realistic novel dealing head-on with bullying, Meg Medina draws upon her own experiences to portray a sympathetic heroine who is forced to decide who she really is. Winner Pura Belpré award.