As someone who is Latinx, I always am happy to see complex and interesting portrayals of Latinx characters in my favorite novels. It makes me feel seen and included in so many different types of genres and narratives, and representation matters. Below are some of my favorite books that either: feature a Latinx main character or cast, have been written by an author who identifies as Latinx, or both!
7 Books With Latinx Characters You’ll Love
1. Barely Missing Everything by Matt Mendez
Matt Mendez’s debut novel is beautifully written and explores how difficult it is to make it in life when you—your life, brown lives—don’t matter. Juan and JD both have plans. Juan is going to get out of El Paso, Texas, on a basketball scholarship and JD is going to be a filmmaker. Fabi doesn’t have a plan anymore, not since getting pregnant at sixteen. When Juan and JD embark on road trip to visit Juan’s dad on death row (someone Fabi always said was dead), we find out there are some things you just can’t plan for…
2. Dealing in Dreams by Lilliam Rivera
I loved Lilliam Rivera’s first book The Education of Margot Sanchez and I was so excited for her new book to come out! Set in the distant future, sixteen year old Nalah leads the fiercest all-girl crew in Mega City but she quickly grows weary of her questionable lifestyle and dreams of living in the Mega Towers. To make it there, Nalah must prove her loyalty to the city’s benevolent founder and cross the border in search of the mysterious gang the Ashè Riders. The closer she gets to her goal the more she loses sight of everything – and everyone – she cares about.
3. The Universal Laws of Marco by Carmen Rodrigues
In the summer before eighth grade, Marco Suarez kissed his best friend Sally Blake. This was his first spark. And then, at the end of that year, she disappeared, leaving without even saying why. And now in their senior year, Sally unexpectedly returns and Marco is shaken. Still, he holds tightly to his carefully choreographed life. A life that is full of reasons why first sparks don’t matter, the main reason? He has a girlfriend. I sometimes wonder what would happen if I met my first love again years later and if you feel the same way, then this book is perfect!
4. The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera
Margot Sanchez is someone that I relate to deeply; having grown up in the South Bronx and straddling the environment of home and her private school life, it is definitely a good read for laughs and the emotions behind finding one’s place in the world when you feel like you don’t exactly fit in anywhere.
After “borrowing” her father’s credit card to finance a more stylish wardrobe, Margot Sanchez suddenly finds herself grounded. And by grounded, she means working as an indentured servant in her family’s struggling grocery store to pay off her debts.
5. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
I absolutely love Aristotle and Dante. Watching their friendship blossom and grow and how they complement each other so well with what the other lacks, paired with Sáenz’s writing makes it for a heartbreaking but ultimately uplifting journey of love and discovery.
Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison.
Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world.
When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.
6. The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun David Hutchinson
Ask anyone on the Riveted board what my favorite book is, and 9/10 will say: The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza. It’s weird in a good way, the best parts of sci-fi, and such complex characters! While Shaun David Hutchinson isn’t Latinx, he put a lot of effort in creating a cast of Latinx characters that are multi-dimensional and do not rely on stereotypes we often see, which means so much to me, personally.
Sixteen-year-old Elena Mendoza is the product of a virgin birth.
This can be scientifically explained (it’s called parthenogenesis), but what can’t be explained is how Elena is able to heal Freddie, the girl she’s had a crush on for years, from a gunshot wound in a Starbucks parking lot. Or why the boy who shot Freddie, David Combs, disappeared from the same parking lot minutes later after getting sucked up into the clouds. What also can’t be explained are the talking girl on the front of a tampon box, or the reasons that David Combs shot Freddie in the first place.
7. Analee, in Real Life by Janelle Milanes
Analee, also known as Kiri in her favorite online game, has trouble expressing herself outside of the game she pours hours into. Trying to bring her online persona to her real-life self while navigating high school drama is a lot, but following both her identities is such a great journey and one I can relate to heavily. Also, it has one of my favorite romance tropes: Fake Dating! This book was made for me, clearly.
“Ever since her mom died three years ago, Analee Echevarria has had trouble saying out loud the weird thoughts that sit in her head. With a best friend who hates her and a dad who’s marrying a yogi she can’t stand, Analee spends most of her time avoiding reality and role-playing as Kiri, the night elf hunter at the center of her favorite online game.
Also check out Janelle Milanes’ other book, The Victoria in My Head!