RED Hearts: Read Three Hispanic-American Books

RED Hearts are guest posts on I Heart Daily from the authors of RED: Teenage girls in America write on what fires up their lives today. Today’s RED Hearts post is from RED author Zulay Regalado, 23, in Miami, who shares three favorite books just in time for Banned Books Week and Hispanic Heritage Month:

One of my favorite months growing up was always September 15 to October 15 -- an intriguing mid-month to mid-month period to honor the many traditions and personalities of the Hispanic and Latin-American community during Hispanic Heritage Month. As a child, it was the one time of the year (besides Halloween, of course) that I could get away with parading around school in my native Cuban ruffled flamenco-style dress. It was also a month filled with all the yummy empanadas and tamales that I could get my hands on, and books -- a lot of books.

Each day was a new opportunity to learn about iconic writers such as Pablo Neruda and Isabel Allende and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who paved the road for many Latin-American authors. While I am not currently parading around my college campus in said ruffled flamenco dress, my love for Latin-American literature carries on.

Here are some of my favorite reads for one of my favorite months of the year:

 Call Me Maria by Judith Ortiz-Cofer. Fifteen-year-old Maria is a native Puerto Rican living on the island with her mother. When she makes the decision leave her home and move to the barrio of New York with her father, Maria struggles to balance the two layers of her culture. While she’s trying to adjust to completely foreign surroundings, she finds an original and life-changing solace in poetry.

 Graffiti Girl by Kelly Parra. Angel Rodriguez is an independent young woman who lives in a struggling neighborhood. In an effort to overcome her surroundings, she focuses on making a name for herself in the art world through her painting. The road is longer than Angel imagined (of course it is), and she must eventually choose between two graffiti artists who are vying for her talent and her heart.

 Estrella’s Quinceañera by Malin Alegria. While it is tradition in Hispanic culture for a girl’s fifteenth birthday to be nothing short of a huge celebration, Estrella wants no part of the cheesy hype. Her mother, however, insists on throwing her the biggest party possible, complete with a mariachi band and an enormous dress. It’s a trying time for Estrella as she tries to fight off her mother’s dead-set ways, grow into her own person and, most importantly, date a boy who she knows would never be accepted into her family. She’s got to grow up someday, no?

Grab an empanada and enjoy!

RED Hearts guest poster Zulay Regalado is an author of RED: Teenage girls in America write on what fires up their lives today, which is out in paperback.