Coming of Age: Important Choices

The choices made when you are a teenager can affect the rest of your life. These young Latinos face important choices about their friends, family, and the futures, whether they are facing their inner demons or deciding what success really means. Recommended for grades 7-12.

Bait

Age Level: 12-14

Product Description: Diego has gotten into trouble because of his temper before. But when he punches out a guy in school who was looking at him funny, he finds himself in juvenile court, facing the possibility of probation, or worse — juvenile jail. It's only when Diego starts to open up to his probation officer that he begins to understand that the source of his anger is buried in his past — and to move beyond it, he needs to stop running from his personal demons.

Buried Onions

By: Gary Soto
Age Level: 14-16

Product Description: Eddie's father, two uncles, and best friend are all dead, and it's a struggle for him not to end up the same way. Violence makes Fresno wallow in tears, as if a huge onion were buried beneath the city. Making an effort to walk a straight line despite constant temptations and frustrations, Eddie searches for answers — and discovers that his closest friends may actually be his worst enemies.

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.

Dark Dude

Age Level: 12-14

Product Description: In Wisconsin, Rico could blend in. His light hair and lighter skin wouldn't make him the "dark dude" or the punching bag for the whole neighborhood. Trading Harlem for Wisconsin, though, means giving up on a big part of his identity. And when Rico no longer has to prove that he's Latino, he almost stops being one — except there are some things that can't be left behind.

Honey Blonde Chica

Age Level: 14-16

"At her privileged prep school, sophomore Evie Gomez hangs out with her fellow Mexican American 'Flojos' and steers clear of the 'Sangros,' a snobbish clique of girls from Mexico. When her former best friend, Dee Dee, returns from four years in Mexico and connects with the Sangros, Evie faces critical decisions. Should she restore her friendship with Dee Dee and become a Sangro, or remain loyal to the Flojos?

Jesse

By: Gary Soto
Age Level: 14-16

Product Description: In this new edition of his first young adult novel, Gary Soto paints a moving portrait of seventeen-year-old Jesse, who has left his parents' home to live with his older brother. These Mexican American brothers hope junior college will help them escape their heritage of tedious physical labor. Their struggles are humorous, true to life, and deeply affecting. Young adults will sympathize with the brothers as they come to terms with what is possible for each of them in an imperfect world.

Muchacho: A Novel

Age Level: 14-16

Product Description: Eddie Corazon is angry. He's also very smart. But he's working pretty hard at being a juvenile delinquent. He blows off school, even though he's a secret reader. He hangs with his cousins, who will always back him up — when they aren't in jail. Then along comes Lupe, who makes his blood race. She sees something in Eddie he doesn't even see in himself. A heart, and a mind, and something more: a poet. But in Eddie's world, it's a thin line between tragedy and glory.

Out of Darkness

Age Level: 14-16

New London, Texas. 1937. Naomi Vargas and Wash Fuller know about the lines in East Texas as well as anyone. They know the signs that mark them. They know the people who enforce them. But sometimes the attraction between two people is so powerful it breaks through even the most entrenched color lines. And the consequences can be explosive. Ashley Hope Pérez takes the facts of the deadly 1937 New London school explosion as a backdrop for a riveting novel about segregation, love, family, and the forces that destroy people. Michael L. Printz Honor Book Award.

Red Glass

Age Level: 9-12

Product Description: One night Sophie and her parents are called to a hospital where Pedro, a six-year-old Mexican boy, is recovering from his trip across the border. Pedro comes to live with Sophie, her parents, and Sophie's Aunt Dika, a refugee of the war in Bosnia. Sophie loves Pedro — her Principito, or Little Prince. But after a year, Pedro's surviving family in Mexico makes contact, and Sophie must travel with Pedro to his hometown so that he can make a heartwrenching decision. An Américas Award Honor Book.

Sofi Mendoza's Guide to Getting Lost in Mexico

Age Level: 14-16

Product Description: Even though Sofi Mendoza was born in Mexico, she's spent most of her life in California. But when Sofi and her friends sneak off for a weekend in Tijuana, she gets in real trouble. To Sofi's shock, the border patrol says that her green card is counterfeit. Until her parents can sort out the paperwork and legal issues, Sofi is stuck in Mexico. In the meantime, Sofi's parents arrange for her to stay with long-lost relatives in rural Baja. Through the unexpected crash course in her heritage, Sofi comes to appreciate that she has a home on both sides of the border.

The Brothers Torres

Age Level: 14-16

Product Description: Frankie Towers has always looked up to his older brother, Steve. Although Frankie has some reservations, he doesn't spend much time thinking about about Steve's crusade to win the respect of the local cholos. Then Frankie gets into a fistfight with John Dalton — longtime nemesis of Steve's, and the richest, preppiest kid in their New Mexican high school. After another incident with Dalton, Steve is bent on retaliating. Frankie starts to think that his brother is taking this respect thing too far.

The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind

Age Level: 14-16

Sixteen-year-old Sonia Ocampo was born on the night of the worst storm Tres Montes had ever seen. And when the winds mercifully stopped, an unshakable belief in the girl’s protective powers began. Sonia knows she has no special powers, but how can she disappoint those who look to her for solace? When she gets a chance to travel to the city and work in the home of a wealthy woman, she seizes it. But when news arrives that her beloved brother has disappeared while looking for work, she learns to her sorrow that she can never truly leave the past or her family behind.

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors

Age Level: 14-16

Product Description: When Pancho arrives at St. Anthony's Home, he knows his time there will be short: If his plans succeed, he'll soon be arrested for the murder of his sister's killer. But then he's assigned to help D.Q., whose brain cancer has slowed neither his spirit nor his mouth. D.Q. tells Pancho all about his "Death Warrior's Manifesto," which will help him to live out his last days fully — ideally, he says, with the love of the beautiful Marisol. As Pancho tracks down his sister's murderer, he finds himself falling under the influence of D.Q. and Marisol, who is everything D.Q.

The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba's Greatest Abolitionist

Age Level: 12-14

Opposing slavery in Cuba in the nineteenth century was dangerous. The most daring abolitionists were poets who veiled their work in metaphor. Of these, the boldest was Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, nicknamed Tula. In passionate, accessible free verse, Engle evokes the voice of this book-loving feminist and abolitionist who bravely resisted an arranged marriage at the age of fourteen and was ultimately courageous enough to fight against injustice. Historical notes, excerpts, and source notes round out this exceptional tribute.

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 Revolution of Evelyn Serrano

Age Level: 12-14

There are two secrets Evelyn Serrano is keeping from her Mami and Papi: her true feelings about growing up in her Spanish Harlem neighborhood, and her attitude about Abuela, her sassy grandmother who's come from Puerto Rico to live with them. Then, like an urgent ticking clock, events erupt that change everything. The Young Lords, a Puerto Rican activist group, dump garbage in the street and set it on fire, igniting a powerful protest. When Abuela steps in to take charge, Evelyn is thrust into the action. Tempers flare, loyalties are tested.

The Whole Sky Full of Stars

Age Level: 12-14

Product Description: Barry can punch anyone hard enough to make them see a whole sky full of stars, though that's not really his style. Barry and Alby have been friends since the first grade. They've always protected one another. When Barry's pop dies, times are tough and the only thing Barry has of value is his dad's 1964 Ford Galaxie. Meanwhile Alby's got himself into big trouble with a cardshark. So he hatches a plan to make money for himself and Barry. The problem is, Barry could get hurt, and it just might cost Alby their friendship. How much can you ask of a friend?

Trino's Choice

Age Level: 12-14

Product Description: When Rosca, an older teen with a vicious streak, invites Trino to start hanging out with his crowd — and maybe make some quick money, too — the younger boy doesn't know what to think. Trino's angry that he and his younger stepbrother are barely getting by even though their mother works two jobs. And he'd do anything to make an impression on Lisana, a smart neighborhood girl who happens to be one of those "school types." With little help from any adults, it's up to Trino to decide which choices will impress his friends and which choices are the best for him.

Two Badges: The Lives of Mona Ruiz

Age Level: 16-18

Product Description: This engrossing memoir charts Mona Ruiz's journey toward self-identity, tracing the tortuous path of her life — a life in which Ruiz assumed contradictory roles: gang chola, high school drop-out, disowned daughter, battered wife, welfare mother, student, and policewoman. At each step in the journey, Ruiz faces violence, ridicule, and skepticism. Nevertheless, she prevails in exchanging her badge of social defiance for one of protecting her community.

What Can't Wait

Age Level: 14-16

Product Description: Marisa's parents came to Houston from Mexico. They work hard, and they expect Marisa to help her familia. Marisa hears something else from her calc teacher. She should study harder, ace the AP test, and get into engineering school in Austin. Caught between the expectations of two different worlds, Marisa isn't sure what she wants — other than a life where she doesn't end each day thanking God it's over.

When the Stars Go Blue: A Novel

Age Level: 14-16

"In a risky career move, ballerina Soledad refuses an offer to join a dance company in order to play the role of Carmen with a Miami-based competitive all-male drum and bugle corp. Although the role and its opportunities are seductive, spending the summer with her new boyfriend, bugle-playing Jonathan, and exploring their fresh, exciting love is equally compelling.

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.