Looking for some great summer reading for your middle schooler? Here are two wonderful new works of middle grade Latino fiction that you won’t want to miss! Both are coming of age novels that cast light on the Cuban-American experience today and yesterday as well as touching on universal themes of family, community, and finding your own voice. Don’t miss the giveaway of one of these books below!
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
New Middle Grade Latino Fiction
I love coming of age novels because they are all about helping children navigate that difficult terrain between childhood and adulthood, between learning from others and beginning to trust your own instincts. Both of the novels below invite us into the world of a young person discovering their own strength in part through coming to terms with their own fallibility. As they learn to accept their own weaknesses, they lose their fear and begin to blossom into extraordinary young adults.
These books are wonderful to pair together, as they both feature Cuban-American main characters but at different time periods and locations. It would be interesting to read them together and discuss how life for Cuban immigrants was different in New York City in the 1960s versus Miami in the present day, yet how themes of family and culture remained the same.
They also pair well together because each main character discovers their own voice through the arts: one through poetry and the other through literature and painting. Why not read them together alongside some wonderful books of poetry or art projects? Truly wonderful middle grade Latino fiction to share with your young readers!
The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora bubbles over with all the energy and curiosity of a 13 year old boy. Arturo Zamora is looking forward to a laid back summer working in the kitchen of his Abuela’s restaurant and spending time with the cute girl who just moved into his apartment complex. Yet when a land developer enters the picture and threatens to change Arturo’s Miami neighborhood forever, he and his family must find a way to save their restaurant and their community. I love how this book is very contemporary with its references and language, without seeming like a grown up trying too hard to be hip. It also a wonderful portrait of a close extended family, with all of its quirky characters, complicated relationships, and unconditional love. Arturo blossoms inside this atmosphere of Sunday dinners and family group texts, especially through the gentle guidance of his grandparents, who show him to always trust his feelings and the power of poetry.
Lucky Broken Girl is a remarkable new book based on the author’s own experiences of being confined to her bed in a body cast after a car accident. Ruth Behar, a Cuban-Jewish girl, is the hopscotch queen of her 1960s New York City neighborhood with dreams of getting her own pair of go-go boots, when a terrible accident changes her life forever. As her outside world constricts, her inner world deepens. At first Ruth sinks into despair, but through writing and painting she learns of the healing power of forgiveness and the ability of art to transform the most dreary surroundings. This beautifully written novel gives a wonderfully nuanced look at relationships and how confusing people’s reactions to tragedy can be, whether it’s a mother forced to deal with her own resentment over caring for her injured daughter 24-7 or a girl whose sorrow over her friend’s injury makes her seem standoffish and uncaring. It also encourages introspection – what would you do if you were forced to lie on your back for nearly a year?- and sheds light on working through depression, anger, and anxiety to discover forgiveness and grace.
Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora Giveaway
And now for a giveaway of one of these amazing new works of middle grade Latino fiction! Enter for a chance to win one (1) of five (5) copies of The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya (ARV: $16.99 each).
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on May 15, 2017 and 12:00 AM on May 29, 2017. Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about June 2, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.