Identity: Who Am I?

The protagonists in these stories are all facing the same central question of adolescence: who am I? From a girl whose mother has abandoned her to a young child who loses his language and connection to family when he gets sick, these stories capture the challenge and opportunity of exploring identity during the teenage years. Recommended for grades 7-12.

Becoming Naomi León

Age Level: 9-12

Naomi and her younger brother Owen have lived with their grandmother in a small trailer for many years, ever since they were abandoned by their mother. When Mom Terri Lynn suddenly returns, does she really have the kids' best interests at heart?

Estrella's Quinceañera

Age Level: 12-14

For as long as Estrella Alvarez can remember, her mother has been planning to throw her an elaborate quinceañera for her fifteenth birthday — complete with a mariachi band, cheesy decorations, and a hideous dress. Estrella has other things on her mind, like dating Speedy. Does it matter that her new friends — and her parents — would never approve of a guy from el barrio? Estrella is almost fifteen and wants to start making her own decisions. But is she ready to find out who she is — and who she really wants to be?

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.

Help Wanted: Stories

By: Gary Soto
Age Level: 12-14

"Working-class Latino teenagers cope with their families, hang out with offbeat friends and obnoxious acquaintances, yearn for dates, and deal with stray kisses in these 10 stories. The teens struggle to prove themselves, establish their own identities, and maintain self-respect in the midst of dilapidated schools, grimy neighborhoods, and hard-pressed single-parent households. The stories are sometimes funny, often poignant, and occasionally provocative." — Booklist

Just Like Us

Age Level: 16-18

Product Description: Just Like Us tells the story of four high school students whose parents entered this country illegally from Mexico. We meet the girls on the eve of their senior prom in Denver, Colorado. All four of the girls have grown up in the United States, and all four want to live the American dream, but only two have documents. Just Like Us is a coming-of-age story about girlhood, friendship, and identity — what it means to steal an identity, what it means to have a public identity, what it means to inherit an identity from parents.

Lost in the System

Age Level: 14-16

A foster child from the age of two, Charlotte Lopez bounced around foster homes until she went to live in a home that she expected to be permanent. But her foster parents wouldn't adopt her, and after eleven years of waiting, Charlotte moved to an emergency shelter for children in crisis. Charlotte kept up her grades, participated in sports and school activities, and even entered the Miss Vermont Teen USA pageant. In August 1992, she was crowned Miss Teen USA. It wasn't until she was legally adopted at age 17, however, that she finally found a place to call home.

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

Parrot in the Oven: Mi vida

Age Level: 12-14

"It's not easy for Manuel Hernandez to discover his place in the world, especially when he is constantly bombarded with the hardships of his poor and woefully dysfunctional family. Their tiny sheetrock house in the projects is the scene of angry arguments — even of threats at rifle point…But as the months pass and some of his wounds heal, Manny slowly begins to understand the sense of self that he can derive from his role within this difficult household." — Publishers Weekly

Secret of the Andes

Age Level: 9-12

"Cusi, a modern-day Native American boy, and his guardian, Chuto, tend a herd of prized llamas in Hidden Valley, an isolated valley high in the Andes Mountains. Cusi is unaware that he is a direct descendant of the ruler of the ancient Incas. During the course of the story he is instructed by his guardian in the religion and history of his ancient people, and goes in search of his true identity." — BookRags Newbery Winner.

Ten Mile River

Age Level: 12-14

Product Description: Best friends Ray and Jose are not your typical thirteen-year-olds. They've escaped foster care and juvenile detention centers to live on their own together in an abandoned building located near Manhattan Park called Ten Mile River. With no use for school or families, street-smart Jose and bookish, introspective Ray have everything they need in each other. They are closer than brothers until they meet Trini. She's smart, beautiful, and confident, and they both fall for her immediately.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Age Level: 16-18

"Ghetto nerd," outcast, and anime-loving Oscar Wao is the latest in a long line of doomed generations to suffer the dreaded fuku curse of his native Dominican Republic. With humor and talent as his weapons, he perseveres, knowing "you can never run away. Not ever. The only way out is in."

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 House of the Scorpion

Age Level: 14-16

Product Description: Matteo Alacrán was not born; he was harvested. His DNA came from El Patrón, lord of a country called Opium — a strip of poppy fields lying between the United States and what was once called Mexico. He is a boy now, but most consider him a monster — except for El Patrón. El Patrón loves Matt as he loves himself, because Matt is himself. As Matt struggles to understand his existence, he is threatened by a sinister cast of characters. Escape is the only chance Matt has to survive.

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.

Thoughts without Cigarettes: A Memoir

Age Level: 16-18

Product Description: Born in Manhattan's Morningside Heights to Cuban immigrants in 1951, Hijuelos introduces readers to the colorful circumstances of his upbringing. During a sojourn in pre-Castro Cuba with his mother, he catches a disease that sends him into a Dickensian home for terminally ill children. The yearlong stay estranges him from the very language and people he had so loved.

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.