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Reading Latinas by Elizabeth Gonzalez James

So many amazing audiobooks - both fiction and nonfiction - have come out in the last few years by Latina authors. The titles I've chosen are among my favorites, and represent authors from many countries and many viewpoints, but all with luminous, indelible voices rising out of the Latinx experience.

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Clap When You Land

By Elizabeth Acevedo
Narrated by: Elizabeth Acevedo & Melania-Luisa Marte
Length: 5 hours 32 minutes

Clap When You Land

“Through Acevedo’s transcendent poetry, the tragic crash of AA587 becomes a song to family in all of its complexities and a tribute to the power of Latinas. Camino and Yahaira Rios are sisters unaware of each other’s existence until their beloved Papi dies in a plane crash. His death ushers in new realities for both girls, Camino in the Dominican Republic and Yahaira in New York City, and each must struggle with the meaning of family. Truth? This book is incredible and makes me yearn to gather my sisters around me, grab a machete, and destroy the ugliness in this world. Acevedo is one of the brilliant, bright lights in literature and listening to her read it on Libro.fm is soul nourishing. ”

Cellar Door Books image Linda, Cellar Door Books
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Fruit of the Drunken Tree

A Novel

By Ingrid Rojas Contreras
Narrated by: Marisol Ramirez, Almarie Guerra & Ingrid Rojas Contreras
Length: 12 hours 25 minutes

Fruit of the Drunken Tree

Fruit of the Drunken Tree made me cry at the airport. I was impressed by the small kingdom of women Contreras builds, with violence always threatening to creep in, all seen through the eyes of Chula, the youngest daughter. Contreras made her perspective believably cloistered while masterfully writing all the people around Chula in ways that made them feel real. Also masterful was the way Contreras used Petrona’s narrative throughout and the restraint she showed in dipping into her thoughts; she always left me wanting more. What Contreras chooses not to write has as big an effect as what she does. This novel is a dynamic exploration of what is known and, sometimes willfully, what is left unknown.”

Literati Bookstore image Lillian Li, Literati Bookstore
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Tell Me How It Ends

An Essay in 40 Questions

By Valeria Luiselli
Narrated by: Laurence Bouvard
Length: 2 hours 33 minutes

A damning confrontation between the American dream and the reality of undocumented children seeking a new life in the US.

Structured around the forty questions Luiselli translates and asks undocumented Latin American children facing deportation, Tell Me How It Ends (an expansion of her 2016 Freeman's essay of the same name) humanizes these young... Read more »

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Cantoras

A novel

By Carolina De Robertis
Narrated by: Carolina De Robertis
Length: 13 hours 37 minutes

"Cantoras is a stunning lullaby to revolution—and each woman in this novel sings it with a deep ferocity. Again and again, I was lifted, then gently set down again—either through tears, rage, or laughter. Days later, I am still inside this song of a story." —Jacqueline Woodson, National Book Award–winning author

From the highly acclaimed,...
Read more »

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Mexican Gothic

By Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Narrated by: Frankie Corzo
Length: 10 hours 39 minutes

Mexican Gothic

“Although Mexican Gothic begins in an unassuming Gothic way, with a psychotic cousin and a haunted house, the book slowly turns until you are completely snatched from reality and cannot put the book down. Until the end, I couldn’t figure out which of the creepy characters were trustworthy or even which scenes were reality. The atmosphere and setting of this book were remarkably vibrant; I could picture High Place and each of its residents in full disgusting detail. While the book may begin slowly, and some readers may be tempted to put it down after the first 50 pages, this one was worth sticking it out for me and many others.

This is definitely a horror novel, and some readers may need content warnings for sexual assault, suicide, domestic abuse, incest, hallucinations, murder and gore, cannibalism, eugenics, death of a parent and other family members, miscarriages, and racism. It is difficult to provide a full review of this book without delving into spoilers, but it is certainly more than just a haunted house. Readers of fast-paced action-filled horror and readers of beautiful yet devastating prose will find something to enjoy in this story. Despite the plethora of content warnings, I would recommend this book to young adults as well as adults that enjoy horror.”

Beausoleil Books image Endya, Beausoleil Books
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The Dangers of Smoking in Bed

Stories

By Mariana Enriquez
Narrated by: Rebecca Soler
Length: 5 hours 47 minutes

If you enjoyed Things We Lost in the Fire, then you’ll love The Dangers of Smoking in Bed.

“"The Dangers of Smoking in Bed" by Argentine writer Mariana Enriquez, translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell, revisits themes found in her 2017 collection "Things We Lost in the Fire." Her disquieting stories, populated by ghosts, disappeared adults and exploited children, examine economic pain, social unrest and violence through the lens of literary horror. Characters observing the slow burn of a society in decay find themselves asking, as the titular story does, "Why not just let the fire keep going and do its job?" Supernatural elements become compelling metaphors for societal breakdown. In ""The Cart,"" a poor neighborhood experiences bad luck after a homeless man--worse off than the people there--is driven away. ""There had to be an accumulation of misfortune for the neighborhood to feel like something strange was going on,"" says the narrator. Jobs are lost, utilities turned off and food is hard to come by, causing people to turn feral to survive. The only family left untouched by bad luck, one that offered some comfort to the homeless man, is forced to flee before neighbors turn on them. ""We were scared, but fear doesn't look the same as desperation,"" the son in this family knows. Child exploitation is represented as an actual haunting of society. In ""Rambla Triste,"" abused children wander the streets of Barcelona, leaving a stench and creating havoc for everyone. In ""Kids Who Come Back,"" children in Buenos Aires who were lost or disappeared begin to reappear, unchanged, at the same time. People have ""no idea what was happening and couldn't explain it; they only knew that they were very afraid."" Josefina, in ""The Well,"" discovers her paralyzing fears result from trusted adults who used a sorceress to rid themselves of fear and pass it to her when she was only a child. ""They said they would take care of you. But they didn't take care of you,"" she is told. Adults do not save the children in these stories. It's impossible to miss the fear that permeates The Dangers of Smoking in Bed. Young girls are afraid to leave their homes, a ghost baby is afraid to be alone and young men are afraid to stay in the cities. Throughout, Enriquez skillfully uses the tropes of horror to expose the everyday atrocities that occur in societies that abandon the fight against corruption. Even as these stories provide chills, they elicit a deep feeling of sadness for innocence lost. -reviewed for Shelf Awareness 11-17-20"”

The River's End Bookstore image Cindy, The River's End Bookstore
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Finding Latinx

In Search of the Voices Redefining Latino Identity

By Paola Ramos
Narrated by: Paola Ramos
Length: 7 hours 34 minutes

Young Latinos across the United States are redefining their identities, pushing boundaries, and awakening politically in powerful and surprising ways. Many of them—Afrolatino, indigenous, Muslim, queer and undocumented, living in large cities and small towns—are voices who have been chronically overlooked in how the diverse population of almost... Read more »

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Dominicana

A Novel

By Angie Cruz
Narrated by: Coral Peña
Length: 10 hours 12 minutes

Dominicana

“This is a book that will stay with you. It’s a story about a 15 Year old Dominican girl, who is married off to a man twice her age bc he can bring her to the United States. Ana, has no control over her situation, and comes to the US, speaking no English, knowing nothing about her new country. Isolated in their apartment, missing her siblings and pressured by her mother to send home money, Ana struggles to find her way. She’s torn between family loyalty and finding her own happiness. Ultimately, it’s Ana who has to determine her own agency. What makes this especially interesting is that it’s set in Washington Heights in the 1960s, with the civil rights movement in the background. Yet, that’s all the impact it has, momentous occasions are just background and Ana’s experience is front and center.”

Belmont Books image Audrey, Belmont Books
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Of Women and Salt

A Novel

By Gabriela Garcia
Narrated by: Frankie Corzo
Length: 7 hours 7 minutes

Of Women and Salt

“This is a story about women—mothers, daughters and how history shapes a life. Gabriella Garcia, a Cuban American, tells two immigration stories—one from Cuba, and the other from El Salvador—and how the past impacts decisions in their own lives. Garcia’s sentences and word choice ring with purpose when you listen to the story as an audiobook. I would recommend this story, and be on the lookout for more from Garcia.”

Birch Tree Books image Leah, Birch Tree Books
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Furia

By Yamile Saied Méndez
Narrated by: Sol Madariaga
Length: 8 hours 51 minutes

A powerful, #ownvoices contemporary YA for fans of The Poet X and I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter set in Argentina, about a rising soccer star who must put everything on the line—even her blooming love story—to follow her dreams.

In Rosario, Argentina, Camila Hassan lives a double life.

At home, she is a careful daughter, living within her...

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Lost Children Archive

A novel

By Valeria Luiselli
Narrated by: Valeria Luiselli, Kivlighan de Montebello, William DeMeritt & Maia Enrigue Luiselli
Length: 11 hours 16 minutes

Lost Children Archive

“Really incredible fiction takes you on a journey, and somewhere along the way you realize how much of it reflects your own reality. In Lost Children Archive, Valeria Luiselli’s narrator is highly observant of her inner life and the world around her. She unravels a story that’s about family and how walls between people and nations are built — and what they damage. In reading this book, I felt like I was in the car on the family’s road trip — feeling all the conflicting emotions that Luiselli’s narrator is feeling as a partner, mother, and resident in today’s United States.”

Books Are Magic image Zoey Cole, Books Are Magic
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The Undocumented Americans

By Karla Cornejo Villavicencio
Narrated by: Karla Cornejo Villavicencio
Length: 4 hours 53 minutes

NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST • One of the first undocumented immigrants to graduate from Harvard reveals the hidden lives of her fellow undocumented Americans in this deeply personal and groundbreaking portrait of a nation.

“Karla’s book sheds light on people’s personal experiences and allows their stories to be told and their voices to be... Read more »

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Mona at Sea

By Elizabeth Gonzalez James
Narrated by: Aida Reluzco
Length: 8 hours 1 minutes

Mona Mireles is a quintessential overachiever: a former spelling-bee champion and valedictorian of her college class, she has a sterling résumé and a wall of plaques and medals in her bedroom that stretches floor to ceiling. She's also broke, unemployed, back at home with her parents, and completely adrift in life and love. Seven months out of... Read more »

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