mexican whiteboy

On the Goddamn Worth and Validity of YA Literature

Awhile ago an old English high school teacher of mine disparaged YA literature, in summary saying it wasn’t worthwhile putting these books in the hands of teenagers. Even if I disagree with the person, I often stay quiet on a topic if it’s someone I know. This time I didn’t stay quiet and posted back. And in light of another terrible article questioning the validity to YA lit, I decided to share that post today: 

It’s disappointing to see an English teacher of mine from high school, one I admired and looked up to, categorically dismiss an entire category of literature. Young Adult books are not one-dimensional. They aren’t rubbish. They don’t lack cohesion.

To say they don’t belong in high schools is an inane statement. To say they don’t provide high schools students with abstraction in order to advance in different ways of thinking is an inane statement.

First of all, to lump all books from the same category into a singular mass and judge them as one is simply ridiculous – all categories have some fantastic novels and some novels that fall short. Second of all, the higher literature you think belongs in high schools like To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye, and Lord of the Flies would be published through a children’s imprint today – they are Children’s & Young Adult literature. Third of all, there are many other fantastic contemporary Young Adult titles that should be and are being studied in schools today: Everybody Sees the Ants, Mexican WhiteBoy, and More Happy Than Not – just to name a handful of hundreds.

Fourth of all, a book doesn’t have to be a work of great literature to have a positive impact on a teenager’s life – reading is fantastic – why discourage teenagers from reading novels they love?

And lastly, the genre’s not for you.

105 MORE Diverse Books to Add to Your TBR!

1.     As I Descended by Robin Talley

2.     And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

3.     Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

4.     Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

5.     Am I Normal Yet by Holly Bourne

6.     Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin

7.     All Our Names by Dinaw Mengestu

8.     Salt by Nayyirah Waheed

9.     Into White by Randi Pink

10. The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

11. Swing Time by Zadie Smith

12. Talking to My Country by Stan Grant

13. Solanin by Inio Asano

14. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

15. The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

16. None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio

17. The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

18. Mexican Whiteboy by Matt de la Pena

19. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena

20. How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon

21. Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan

22. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

23. One Half from the East by Nadia Hashimi

24. A House Without Windows by Nadia Hashimi

25. Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Y. Dennis-Benn

26. Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

27. Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

28. Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai

29. All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

30. The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race by Jesmyn Ward

31. The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan

32. The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah

33. Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard

34. The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakruni

35. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

36. What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi

37. Who Will Catch Us As We Fall by Iman Verjee

38. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

39. This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz

40. Please by Jericho Brown

41. Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

42. The Corpse Exhibition: And Other Stories of Iraq by Hassan Blasim

43. Cam Girl by Leah Raeder

44. Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle

45. This Side of Home by Renee Watson

46. Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate

47. Dragonfish by Vu Tran

48. Sister Heart by Sally Morgan

49. Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland

50. Accidents of Nature by Harriet McBryde Johnson

51. The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko by Scott Stambach

52. In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom by Yeonmi Park

53. Dear Zari: The Secret Lives of the Women of Afghanistan by Zarghuna Kargar

54. The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie

55. Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

56. Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton

57. Boy Erased: A Memoir by Garrad Conley

58. Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge

59. The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

60. Among Strange Victims by Daniel Saldana Paris

61. Honor by Elif Shafak

62. Tracks by Louise Erdrich

63. The Round House by Louise Erdrich

64. Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez

65. In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje

66. Handwriting by Michael Ondaatje*

67. A Man of the People by Chinua Achebe

68. To This Day: For the Bullied and Beautiful by Shane Koyczan

69. Maud Martha by Gwendolyn Brooks

70. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

71. The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou

72. Mules and Men by Zora Neale Hurston

73. The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

74. Monstress by Marjorie M. Liu

75. Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie

76. The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan

77. Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia

78. The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano

79. The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis

80. Five Smooth Stones by Ann Fairbairn

81. The Big Green Tent by Lyudmila Ulitskaya

82. Empress of the World by Sara Ryan

83. A Tyranny of Petticoats edited by Jessica Spottswood

84. Unicorn Tracks by Julia Ember

85. The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie

86. It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas

87. Loose Woman by Sandra Cisneros

88. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys]

89. Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat

90. Green Grass, Running Water by Thomas King

91. Edge of Truth by Natasha Hanova

92. Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang

93. Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

94. A Cup of Water Under My Bed: A Memoir by Daisy Hernandez

95. Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina

96. The Lightning Dreamer by Margarita Engle

97. Proxy by Alex London

98. Pointe by Brandy Colbert

99. Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta

100.Confessions of a Mask by Yukio Mishima

101. Fish In A Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

102. Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik

103. The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi

104. The Posterchildren by Kitty Burroughs

105. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

I saw a request for Hispanic or Latin@ YA/Children’s books and I’d like to offer a few recommendations:

  • Mexican WhiteBoy by Matt de la Peña
  • How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents, and Finding Miracles by Julia Alvarez
  • Down to the Bone by Mayra Lazara Dole (though some of the depictions in this book are problematic, so be warned)
  • The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
  • Esperanza Rising, Becoming Naomi León, and The Dreamer by Pam Muñoz Ryan
  • Feels like Home by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo
  • Marisol (an American Girl novel), and The Afterlife by Gary Soto
  • Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida by Victor Martinez
  • Cuba 15 by Nancy Osa
  • Dreams of Significant Girls by Cristina Garcia
  • Drift by Manuel Luis Martinez
  • The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
  • The Brothers Torres by Coert Vorhees
  • Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina 

Certainly, the list could go on and on.  Now that I’m working towards a Masters degree in Latin@ literature, I’m finding more and more that the children’s/YA books that get the Latin@ or Hispanic stamp put on them are largely books about culture, written for insiders looking in.  You get a lot of food books (“Maria and her family eat tortillas for lunch!”), or holidays (“Jose and his family celebrate El Día de los Muertos.”).  These books are windows instead of doors.  And what I’ve realized given this campaign is that though books that are doors may be written, and even published, they’re not the ones that get the notoriety they deserve.  The books that allow outsiders to experience some campy caricature are more accessible and often less demanding for readers because they allow outsiders to perpetuate the idea of a single story of any given people.  They allow for generalizations to be made.  I encourage everyone in participating in this movement to look up Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED talk (No, not the one Beyoncé used in her song, sorry!) “The Danger of a Single Story”, though she talks about Africa in this TED talk, I think the message applies to all marginalized, or othered groups.  

—-thank you!!!

mashable.com
YA authors will take on Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Catwoman
DC's biggest names meet teenage drama and "coming-of-age romance."
By Aliza Weinberger

Random House has brought on a super league of writers to do the characters justice, all of them New York Times bestselling authors. There’s Leigh Bardugo (The Grisha Trilogy) on Wonder Woman, Marie Lu (The Young Elites) on Batman, Matt de la Peña (Mexican Whiteboy and The Living) on Superman, and Sarah J. Maas (The Thrones of Glass series) on Catwoman.

mashable.com
YA authors will take on Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Catwoman
DC's biggest names meet teenage drama and "coming-of-age romance."
By Aliza Weinberger

Random House has brought on a super league of writers to do the characters justice, all of themNew York Times bestselling authors. There’s Leigh Bardugo (The Grisha Trilogy) on Wonder Woman, Marie Lu (The Young Elites) on Batman, Matt de la Peña (Mexican Whiteboy and The Living) on Superman, and Sarah J. Maas (The Thrones of Glass series) on Catwoman.

illymarshmallow  asked:

Do you know any books where the main character is hispanic-latino?

Yes, yes, and yes!

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero

I Am J by Cris Beam

Mexican Whiteboy by Matt de la Pena

The Afterlife by Gary Soto

Simone Elkeles’ Perfect Chemistry series

Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy by Bil Wright

Mind you the recommendations above are a small sample of the books out there with Latino/a MCs and are of YA fiction.

You can also check the Pura Belpre Awards site for honorees and winners. Los Comadres does a book club. And also Latinos in Kidlit! Hope that helps!

JB