Growing Up Along the Border: Stories for Young Adults

These short stories and novels capture the unique perspective of kids growing up along the border, as well as the lives of people living on both the U.S. and Mexican sides. Recommended for grades 7-12.

A Good Long Way

Age Level: 14-16

"At 2 a.m., Roelito wakes up to a furious quarrel between his older brother, Beto, 18, and Dad over a broken curfew. When Dad tells Beto to leave, he does, and his best friend, Jessy, helps him find shelter for the night. She knows about running away; she flees the house whenever her drunken father and her mother scream and fight. Can she wait out the two months to graduation and make it to college?

Crazy Loco

Age Level: 12-14

Product Description: Meet Loco, a dog with a passion for firecrackers. And Pedro, an altar boy forced to learn a hard lesson from two of the toughest, oldest men ever to serve the Lord. Jordan and Todd are two boys from California who don't know what they're in for when they push their Texas cousins a little too far. Loosely based on the author's own childhood in south Texas, this story collection is a moving whirlwind of humor and insight-brash, tender, and full of the unexpected.

Finding Our Way

Age Level: 12-14

"Saldaña's collection of short stories and one brief novella offers snapshots of teens' lives. The outsider, or an unusual character, appears in a number of ways — as the new kid, as a drama teacher trying to instill in his students his own love of the theater, and as a boy making his way into the adult world. With a deft touch, the author creates a clear, concise picture of time and place (along the Texas border or Georgia) with characters who sound and think like today's teens." — School Library Journal

My Land Sings: Stories from the Río Grande

Illustrated by: Amy Cordova
Age Level: 9-12

"This collection of stories has elements of both Mexican and Native American folklore. Anaya has included five of his own stories and retold and enhanced five traditional tales. Filled with ghosts, devils, and tricksters, these cuentos are suffused with the beliefs of the peoples in the Río Grande region…Anaya champions the reading of a good book or listening to a folktale as an opportunity to insert one's own experiences into the story and, hence, to nurture the imagination. " — School Library Journal

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.

Summer of the Mariposas

Age Level: 12-14

Product Description: When Odilia and her four sisters find a dead body in the swimming hole, they embark on a hero's journey to return the dead man to his family in Mexico. But returning home to Texas turns into an odyssey that would rival Homer's original tale. With the supernatural aid of ghostly La Llorona, Odilia and her little sisters travel a road of tribulation to their long-lost grandmother's house. Along the way, they must outsmart a witch and her Evil Trinity.

The Boy Kings of Texas: A Memoir

Age Level: 16-18

Product Description: A lyrical and authentic book that recounts the story of a border-town family in Brownsville, Texas in the 1980's, as each member of the family desperately tries to assimilate and escape life on the border to become "real" Americans, even at the expense of their shared family history. This is really un-mined territory in the memoir genre that gives in-depth insight into a previously unexplored corner of America. 2012 National Book Award Finalist.

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 Holy Tortilla and a Pot of Beans

Age Level: 16-18

"Readers will be rewarded by the wisdom, wit, and hope in these 16 short stories. The selections range from the mystical appearance of the Virgin of Guadalupe in 'The Holy Tortilla' to the haunting yet empowering story of a victim in 'The Stuff to Scream With.' …What all of these stories have in common is the optimism that comes from taking emotional risks and forming relationships with family, friends, and community.

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 Smoking Mirror (The Garza Twins, vol. 1)

Age Level: 9-12

Carol and Johnny Garza are 12-year-old twins whose lives in a small Texas town are forever changed by their mother's unexplained disappearance. Shipped off to relatives in Mexico by their grieving father, the twins soon learn that their mother is a nagual, a shapeshifter, and that they have inherited her powers. In order to rescue her, they will have to descend into the Aztec underworld and face the dangers that await them. Winner Pura Belpré Author Honor Award.

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.

Under the Mesquite

Age Level: 12-14

The oldest of eight siblings in her Mexican American family, Lupita is a talented actress and gifted writer. As she wonders what world she belongs in — across the border, taking her dying mother's place, or building a life of her own — she tells her story in verse, offering intimate access to the daily lives and conversation of family and friends and an outpouring of her innermost thoughts as she tries to find and establish her own identity. 2012 Pura Belpré Award Winner.