Check out this wonderful article by Christina Miranda for LatinxSpaces.com. Has anyone read any of these books? Comment below! I can say that Everyone Knows You Go Home is excellent and pairs beautifully with Oscar Cásares Where We Come From.


With summer officially here, there’s now plenty of time do some light (or heavy) reading, depending on your liking. Whether you are taking a vacation, a road trip, or working but squeezing in some reading in throughout the workday, we have compiled a summer reading list of Latinx books that are sure to entertain, inform, and inspire you throughout the hot few months ahead.



Sylvester’s second novel tells the story of an unexpected family reunion. Following Isabel and Martin’s wedding, Omar, Martin’s father, appears unexpectedly as a spirit visible only to Isabel. Still unwelcome after abandoning his family, Martin admits his being unaware of Omar’s passing. Every year after, on their wedding anniversary, Omar visits Isabel in order to redeem himself by offering her his story, and revealing parts of her new family and husband. Everyone Knows You Go Home offers a story embedded in the harsh, emotional reality of new lives in a new country, how it takes a brutal toll on one family’s future, and the uphill journey towards redemption in life and death.



As a Filipino immigrant, Jose Antonio Vargas lets the reader know right from the beginning that “this book is not about immigration at all.” Instead, Vargas takes a different approach to describing his new life in America through his immediate immersion in its culture, his fascination with it, and the discomfort experienced in not belonging to it or his Filipino culture. Dear America is about wandering for an identity not just during a fresh start but for the many years that follow, and the weight one bears in finding a home.



We are witnessing a new racial and social movement, and Chicana Movidas serves as the perfect companion to the new Chicana revolution. Containing multiple contributions from Chicana activists and scholars, the book traces the early stages of the early Chicana movement up into the new century. Focusing on multiple subjects, from race to gender and sexuality, this anthology serves as a refreshing contribution to social activism and identity equality.



Peña’s debut novel introduces us to Uli and his brother, Cuauhtémoc. After taking a joy ride on a crop duster plane over the U.S.-Mexico border, the two crash land in Mexico, leaving them injured and immediately separated. Uli finds himself in a hospital, while Cuauhtémoc wakes up as a hostage to a drug cartel. In between these narratives lies their mother, Araceli, who makes the difficult decision to cross back to Mexico in search of her sons. Throughout the narrative, the three characters navigate the normalized dangers of living in Mexico and illuminate the personal experiences of Mexicans caught in the middle of a drug war.



Sandra Cisneros offers a truly special piece of literature in her new chapbook, Puro Amor, presented in English and Spanish side-by-side along with illustrations by Cisneros herself. Artists Mister and Missus Rivera surround themselves with a great number of animals, to the point that neighbors believe they’re running a farm. Cisneros provides her animals, ranging from cats and dogs to a fawn and iguana, with a regal, spiritual quality. As the two maneuver through the complications of their marriage, the animals are what give her life and the love she desires.



Set in a South Texas dystopian future where multiple border walls have been erected, all narcotics have been legalized and cartels have begun to enter the biological black market, resurrecting and mutating extinct animal species for consumption and shrinking indigenous heads for the wealthy. Esteban Bellacosa is submerged in a dark underground world, coming across relics of the ancient past, including the lost Aranaña Tribe and their dirty Trufflepig, which possessed mystical powers. Flores’ debut novel is fascinating and sprinkled perfectly with dark humor and psychedelic imagery that pulls you deep into Bellacosa’s universe.



Set in the 19th century, Swedish immigrant Håkan Söderström sets out east from California in search of his brother Linus, who was separated from him during their voyage to America. Through his journey he encounters the brutality and struggle of the people migrating west as he himself attempts to understand the violent and confusing world around him as a non-English speaker. As Diaz’s first novel (a Pulitzer Prize finalist to boot), In the Distance is an appealing new take on the modern western novel, countering the traditionally masculinist and violent narrative through Håkan’s own criticisms against it, and the shame it brings him as he becomes pulled into the frontier it creates.



Paloma Martinez-Cruz makes a gastronomic analysis of the way Chicanx food has evolved and is currently evolving in order to create a clearer understanding of its appropriation and exploitation. From the treatment of farm workers in multiple countries who grow and harvest the foods that supply its industry, to the way that traditional Latinx and Chicanx foods have been appropriated by an Anglo luxury market, this culinary critique brings light to the issues that surround one of the most important cultural components of Latinx communities. Cruz successfully helps food consumers understand what is currently wrong with the way we produce food, and pushes us to act to improve the quality of the products we purchase and the lives of the individuals who produce them.


Debut novel captures Chicano youth’s struggle

David Steinberg back at it again for ABQ Journal with another solid book review. This time for Barely Missing Everything by Matt Mendez.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — There are a lot of painful “ifs” in the rocky life of Juan Ramos, a high school senior who lives in an El Paso, Texas, barrio. Maybe too many for Juan to juggle.

If he can stay away from a street gang, he’ll survive another day.

If he can avoid a jail sentence after getting busted fleeing a party, then he might aright himself.

If he can pass algebra, he’ll graduate.

If his rolled ankle heals – he injured it while running from the cops – Juan may have a shot at a college basketball scholarship.

If he could only meet a man named Armando on death row he believes is his father, then it would put him at ease. Juan’s mother, Fabi, has long delayed an explanation of her son’s paternity.

Juan is the protagonist in Matt Mendez’s absorbing debut novel “Barely Missing Everything” that produces anguish and loss.

Fabi and Juan’s longtime best friend JD Sanchez are additional principal characters. JD is also on the basketball team, but he dreams of being a filmmaker. As a sign of interest, he buys a pocket-sized video camera from a thrift store for $20. He also owns a collection of bootleg movies on DVD.

Fabi is a flashy, self-centered presence. She’s currently with Ruben, the owner of a used car dealership and the latest in a string of boyfriends.

At her son’s high school basketball game, Fabi embarrasses Juan, shouting “¡Mijo! ¡Oyes, Juan! ¡Mijo! We’re going to meet you outside. … Novio wants a cigarito. This game’s over anyways.”

Juan abhors his mother’s novios, “recognizing them for what they were: cheap nobodies

The book captures the struggles of several Chicano families, some who live in the central El Paso barrio, and of one upwardly mobile family who lives in another neighborhood.

“It’s a stretch to call the novel autobiographical but I drew on experiences I had growing up. I grew up in that exact same neighborhood (as Juan did),” Mendez said in a phone interview from Tucson, Ariz., where he lives.

“It’s a tough neighborhood to be from. There aren’t a lot of jobs. People work long hours.”

The author also wanted his characters use the language that is actually spoken in the barrio in order to convey the real flavor of the community. The book is chock full of Spanish street slang but not so much that it would slow English-only readers. However, the dialogue is spiked with obscenities.

Mendez injects his own creative metaphors, sometimes humorously, in the narration. In this passage, for example, Juan and JD are trying to figure out what car they’ll “borrow” to drive to see Juan’s assumed biological father in prison. Juan suddenly changes gears, first needing to know if he passed his algebra test. That upsets his buddy: “JD stopped short and looked ready to fight, his whole body tense. Like a really pissed-off giraffe.”

Though the novel is aimed at young adults (ages 14-18), it should be of interest to readers of all ages.

Mendez’s first work of fiction was “Twitching Heart,” a collection of short stories released in 2012. A review of the collection described Mendez as “one of the new stars in the next generation of Chicano literature.”

By day, Mendez is an aircraft maintenance superintendent with the Arizona Air National Guard.

Reading & Signing: Cabañuelas by Norma Elia Cantú on 6/9/19 in Austin

Come join us at Bookwoman for a reading of Norma Elia Cantú’s second novel, Cabañuelas!


Nena leaves Laredo, Texas, and moves to Madrid, Spain, to research the historical roots of traditional fiestas in Laredo. Immersing herself in post-Franco Spain and its rich history, its food, music, and fiestas, Nena finds herself falling for Paco, a Spaniard who works in publishing. Nena’s research and experiences teach her about who she is, where she comes from, and what is important to her, but as her work comes to a close, Nena must decide where she can best be true to her entire self: in Spain with Paco or in Laredo, her home, where her job and family await her return.

Norma Elia Cantú is the Norine R. and T. Frank Murchison Endowed Professor of Humanities at Trinity University. Her earlier works include Transcendental Train Yard: A Collaborative Suite of SerigraphsCanícula: Snapshots of a Girlhood en la Frontera, Updated Edition (UNM Press), and the coedited anthology Entre Guadalupe y Malinche: Tejanas in Literature and Art.

Event date:
Sunday, June 9, 2019 – 3:00pm to 4:30pm
Event address:
5501 North Lamar #A-105
AustinTX 78751


In my previous post about Latina Authors From the Texas-Mexico Border You Should Know, I highlighted three amazing authors whose contributions to literature cannot and should not be ignored. Their works emphasize life along the border and their experiences as individuals of a marginalized and diverse group. I wish I could have highlighted more amazing Latinas, but I had neither the time nor the space on that last piece. This is why I have chosen to write a follow-up to that first piece.

I wish to highlight three more amazing Latina authors that you should know because they are fucking fantastic! If you have not read their works yet, now is the time to do just that. In no particular order, they are as follows:


Diana Noble grew up in Laredo, Texas on the north bank of the mighty Rio Grande, across from Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico. Her young adult novel Evangelina Takes Flight is truly a remarkable read that is worth your time. The book has received numerous honors and awards that include the Spirit of Texas Reading Program Selection, Texas Institute of Letters Best Young Adult Fiction 2018 (runner-up), June Franklin Naylor Award for Best Children’s Book 2018, National Association for Chicano & Chicana Studies, Tejas Foco Award for Best Young Adult Fiction 2018, Southwest Young Adult Book of the Year, Tomás Rivera Award Finalist, and Skipping Stones Multicultural Book Award 2018. The book was a massive achievement, and I am here to let you know that is it one hell of a read! Quickly, Evangelina Takes Flight is an incredible story loosely based on Diana Noble’s paternal grandmother’s life. The book is set in northern Mexico in 1911 during the Mexican Revolution, which began the year before, and provides a concise overview of the difficult decision many Mexican families had to make during the revolution: Do we stay or do we go? In this story, Evangelina’s family decides to leave their home and make their way north to a small border town on the U.S. side. But they quickly learn that many Americans are rude, nasty, unforgiving, and vehemently racist. Evangelina and her family begin to wonder if the locals will ever allow them to live their lives peacefully. This is truly a great book that you should read now.


Born in Lima, Peru, Natalia came to the U.S. at the age of four and grew up in Florida and the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. Her work has appeared in Bustle, CatapultElectric LiteratureLatina Magazine, McSweeney’s Publishing, and the Austin American-Statesman. Natalia’s first novel, Chasing the Sun, was named the Best Debut Book of 2014 by Latinidad. Her latest novel, Everyone Knows You Go Home, won an International Latino Book Award, the 2018 Jesse H. Jones Award for Best Work of Fiction from the Texas Institute of Letters, and was named a Best Book of 2018 by Real Simple magazine. It is a remarkable read that touches on a plethora of issues that include immigration, borders, death, love, loss, tragedy, and redemption. Its blend of magical realism and surrealism are sure to entertain and satisfy. Latino Book Review accurately stated: “No character feels pigeonholed by stereotypes. Also, the book’s detailed accounts of undocumented immigration, such as a stash house that feels more like a prison, unflinchingly portray the reality of dangers faced by immigrants in a way that humanizes suffering.” I highly recommend this timely novel. Natalia’s debut YA Novel, Running, is forthcoming in 2020.


Guadalupe Garcia McCall is a legend and absolute badass. Her books have won numerous awards and she has received the highest honor and praise from readers and critics alike. She was born in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico. She immigrated with her family to the United States when she was 6 years old and grew up in Eagle Pass, Texas. Her book Under the Mesquite received the prestigious Pura Belpre Author Award, was a William C. Morris Finalist, received the Lee Bennett Hopkins/International Literacy Promising Poet Award, the Tomas Rivera Children’s Book Award, and was included in Kirkus Review’s Best Teen Books of 2011, among many other accolades. Summer of the Mariposas won a Westchester Young Adult Fiction award, was a finalist for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy, was included in the 2013 Amelia Bloomer Project List, the Texas Lone Star Reading List, and the 2012 School Library Journal’s Best Books of the Year. Her books will hit you right in the feels and are excellent for readers of all ages. I highly recommend all of her books.

There is not much more I can say to add to the scholarship of these one-of-a-kind Latina authors. Their works are special and deserve to be read. Do yourself a favor and read them as soon as possible.

New Book: Cabañuelas by Norma Elia Cantú

Nena leaves Laredo, Texas, and moves to Madrid, Spain, to research the historical roots of traditional fiestas in Laredo. Immersing herself in post-Franco Spain and its rich history, its food, music, and fiestas, Nena finds herself falling for Paco, a Spaniard who works in publishing. Nena’s research and experiences teach her about who she is, where she comes from, and what is important to her, but as her work comes to a close, Nena must decide where she can best be true to her entire self: in Spain with Paco or in Laredo, her home, where her job and family await her return.Norma Elia Cantú is the Norine R. and T. Frank Murchison Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Trinity University. Her recent works include Transcendental Train Yard: A Collaborative Suite of SerigraphsCanícula: Snapshots of a Girlhood en la Frontera, Updated Edition (UNM Press), and the coedited anthology Entre Guadalupe y Malinche: Tejanas in Literature and Art.



New Book: Ballad of a Slopsucker by Juan Alvarado Valdivia

Check out this new book from UNM press!

A young widower visits Chichén Itzá to honor his wife; family dynamics unravel at a child’s birthday party; the lead singer of a high school metal band faces his dreaded tenth reunion; a serial killer believes he’s been blessed by God to murder bicycle thieves—Alvarado Valdivia’s debut collection of short stories ranges from dark to light and is written with a storyteller’s skill and compassion. Based in Northern California and examining a variety of themes, including love, family, and masculinity, these stories offer an important new perspective on the experiences of Latinos and Latinas in the United States and complicate ideas of nationhood, identity, and the definition of home.


Juan Alvarado Valdivia was born to Peruvian parents and raised in Fremont, California. He is the author of ¡Cancerlandia!: A Memoir (UNM Press).

Alicia Gaspar de Alba in Austin on May 2nd

https://events.attend.com/f/1383788945#/reg/0/   RSVP here – seats are limited!


“This is about resistance:” The Feminist Revisions of Alicia Gaspar de Alba

Thursday, May 2, 2019, 4:00pm – 6:00pm

The University of Texas Libraries, The Center for Mexican American Studies, the Center for Women and Gender Studies, and LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections invite you to commemorate the acquisition of the Alicia Gaspar de Alba papers. The multifaceted Chicana queer feminist scholar will be reading from her works and discussing her career with MALS lecturer and community organizer Lilia Rosas. Archival viewing and reception to follow remarks. 

9 queer Latinx books you have to read before you die

Check out the original article by Vania Castilla for Borderzine here: http://borderzine.com/2019/03/9-queer-latinx-books-you-have-to-read-before-you-die/?fbclid=IwAR1Ajzi4cxJ5JPfUrQMrY-UzaUDDcvhiHmjiAb-MqrLeRq4BTF9VE-koVOg

Last summer I had the opportunity to work alongside filmmakers Angie Tures and Henry Alberto as a production assistant on a project that brought the work of noted poet and author Benjamin Alire Sáenz to life on film.

Sáenz and I spent most of the day together talking about film, poetry, and really just about how funny life can be. He gave me a copy of his book, “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.” I opened the book and didn’t put it back down until the last page. I laughed, cried, found love, lost love. I had never experienced reading a book whose story was so similar to my own.

Knowing that there were books like this, I set out on a quest to find other books written about the queer Latinx experience. Knowing there must be others looking for similar books, I’m going to make life a little easier for you. Here’s my list of essential reading of queer Latinx books you have to read before you die.

1. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Queer 1.jpg

At the top of any queer reading list, you’ll find “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe”. One of the many reasons it’s at the top of mine is the book is written by El Pasoan and award-winning author Benjamin Alire Sáenz. The coming-of-age story is set in El Paso and follows the lives of two Mexican-American boys and their unique friendship. The book is currently being adapted for the screen and being directed by Latinx filmmaker Henry Alberto.

2. Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza by Gloria E. Anzaldúa


Gloria E. Anzaldúa is one of the most prolific and influential theorists in Chicano Studies. Redefining the Chicanx experience by giving a voice to its women, she spent her life documenting the Chicana experience. In her semi-autobiographic book, she writes about her experience growing up brown, queer and a woman in Texas. The book is written in both Spanish and English – many times living in the in-between of both languages.

3. Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera


If finding representation of the queer identity in literature is difficult, finding a character like Juliet is as close to a miracle as it gets. Juliet is getting ready to leave the Bronx and head to Oregon to pursue an internship with her favorite writer. Afraid of how her family might react to her being queer, she decides that because she’s leaving it’s the perfect time to come out to her family. One of the biggest takeaways is how the book tackles white feminism and the need for women of color to have a voice.

4. We the Animals by Justin Torres


There are few books that can capture what it’s like to grow up in an abusive home. Three brothers form a formidable bond as they navigate through their childhood. The narrator must follow a different path as he discovers his queerness. The dark and fragile story was recently released as a film last year and directed by Jeremiah Zagar.

5. America Vol. 1: The Life and Times of America Chavez by Gabby Rivera


Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s an openly queer superhero! This is the “book” for people who don’t like to read. Gabby Rivera does it again but this time partnering with Illustrator Joe Quinones and bringing America Chavez to life. America Chavez is the latest superhero to join the Marvel Universe. She’s not your average superhero and this isn’t your average comic.

6. Chulito by Carlos Rico-Gonzalez


Chulito is a 16-year-old boy growing up in the South Bronx who starts realizing he might have more than just friendly feelings towards his best friend Carlos. When Carlos is ostracized by the neighborhood for being gay, Chulito has to decide between his community and his best friend. “Chulito” is a work that challenges the idea of gender norms and what it means to be a “man.”

7. The Rain God by Arturo Islas


Another author El Paso can be proud to claim as their own is Arturo Islas. He was one of the first Chicanos to be signed by a major publishing house. The Rain God is one of only two books completed by the author before he died in 1999, due to complications brought on by AIDS. The book tells the story of a Mexican family struggling to adapt to the “American” and the immigrant experience.

8. More Happy than Not by Adam Silvera


Aaron Soto, a 16-year-old Puerto Rican kid from the Bronx struggles to find happiness. Aaron hears of the Leteo Institute – a company that promises to erase painful memories so people can move forward – and decides it would be best if he could forget he’s gay. What follows is an honest portrayal of struggling with depression and mental illness.

9. Gulf Dreams by Emma Perez


Published in 1996, “Gulf Dreams” is considered one of the first Chicana lesbian pieces of literature to be print. It tells the story of a young girl growing up in a rural and racist town in Texas. The narrator telling a gripping and heartbreaking story of her childhood and of the first girl she ever loved.


Meg Medina on Winning the Newbery Medal

Meg Medina has gotten “the call” before. It came on a Sunday night in January 2014 when the chairperson of the American Library Association’s Pura Belpré committee telephoned to say that her YA novel, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass (Candlewick), had won its gold medal for narrative. That award goes to a writer whose work best portrays the Latinx cultural experience in a work of literature for children or teens.

“They called about 10 at night, so when the phone didn’t ring this time, I thought, ‘Oh well, that’s it,’” Medina said. She went to bed and rose early to go to the YMCA for her cardio class. But Merci Suárez Changes Gears(Candlewick) had received five starred reviews. Medina was right to think her middle-grade novel about an irrepressible Cuban-American girl might have been on the radar of one of ALA’s many award committees. “Psychologically, you fight expectation, but there is this tiny seed of hope that you’ve won something, that one of these awards will have your name on it, but you’re afraid to hope too much.”

And as it turned out, the phone did ring at 10 at Medina’s home in Richmond, Va., but this time it was 10 a.m., which was 7 a.m. in Seattle where the Newbery committee members had assembled to make their calls. Medina was back from the gym and getting into the shower when she saw an unfamiliar number on her phone’s and answered by saying, “Who is this?”

“When she [chairperson Ellen Riordan] said it was the Newbery committee and I had won the medal, all of the emotion I had been holding back, not only for this day, but over the entire course of my career as a writer, just came crashing forward and I sank to the floor of my bathroom and had a big messy cry,” Medina said. “Those poor people. I have no idea what I even said to them but I’m so grateful that they loved Merci and the Suárez family.”


Merci Suarez is Medina’s seventh book but only her second middle grade novel. She also won recognition from the Pura Belpré committee in 2016 for Mango, Abuela, and Me, a picture book. Other than her first novel, Milagros: Girl from Away (Holt, 2008), all of her books have been edited by Candlewick’s Kate Fletcher.

“And she doesn’t speak a word of Spanish!” Medina said. “I am working on her, though.”

The novel, which stars 11-year-old Merci but prominently features her extended Cuban-American family, began as a short story Medina contributed to Flying Lessons and Other Stories, an anthology edited by Ellen Oh (Crown), and produced in cooperation with We Need Diverse Books. The collection included short stories by Matt de la Peña, Jacqueline Woodson, Kwame Alexander and others. “All the heavyweights and me,” Medina said. Medina gave Merci her own childhood love of bike-riding and her birthplace, setting the story in South Florida, where Medina’s parents emigrated to when they left Cuba in 1960. Medina was the first of her family to be born in America.

She found that even after turning in the story for the anthology, Merci had a lot more to say. “I wasn’t finished with her, or she wasn’t finished with me,” Medina said. “You know how Merci is. She keeps coming at you.”

Medina also felt strongly that the moment was right for a story about the particularities of the immigrant experience and the universal truths about growing up.

“I worry for children right now, especially in Latino families, around the issue of immigration,” she said. “These children are not deaf. They are hearing all of this political talk. We need books that sound and look the way we as Americans look, books that get into the corners of children’s experiences.” And though her Pura Belpré Awards are cherished achievements—“It’s the award of your language, of your home, of your parents,” she said—the Newbery will bring a much wider audience to Merci’s story. “That sticker is like a magic portal,” she said.

There is also this: the Newbery conveys on a book something close to immortality, and on its author membership in a very exclusive club. “Just to join the amazing authors who have already won, that my name is going to be part of that list, that is why my knees buckled, why I wept,” Medina said. “One day, my grandchild will walk into a library and see the title of my book as a Newbery winner and say, ‘My abuela wrote that.’”

Not that she is an abuela, yet, mind you. “No, right, don’t make me a grandmother yet,” she said. “Someday in the future, my grandchild will say that.”

Elizabeth Acevedo and ‘The Poet X’ Add Printz, Pura Belpré to Awards Collection

Elizabeth Acevedo, whose debut novel won over the publishing world, critics, and award committees in 2018, continued her streak into the new year as The Poet Xnabbed the 2019 Michael L. Printz Award and the Pura Belpré Author Award at the Youth Media Awardsceremony at the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting in Seattle on Monday.

“I was shaking when I got the call for the Printz; I was shaking when I got the call for the Pura Belpré,” says Acevedo. “Then, when I actually watched them announce my name, my heart was pounding. I knew it was coming but still, it was like, ‘This cannot be real.’”

The Pura Belpré Author Award shocked Acevedo—who says the recognition of a Latinx writer whose work best “best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience” wasn’t on her radar as an award she might win.

“To get that honor is so special,” she says. “There were so many good books this year written by the Latinx community. I was really honored. That one caught me by surprise.”

The Poet X , which also won an Odyssey Honor for its audiobook version on Monday, had already won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Best Fiction. Acevedo can’t and won’t rank the honors. The most important thing is each different honor affirms that the story spoke to a different group of people, she says. The Printz commitee saw a unique combination of attributes in Acevedo’s work.

“It’s that rare combination of kick-ass literary novel and resonant, readable story,” said committee chair Rachel Fryd.

Winning the Printz will likely bring the title to an even wider audience, as librarians, educators, and parents often look for the award winners when selecting books.

“I hope so,” says Acevedo. “I hope that while my book was written so specifically and with so much of my heart directed at a particular community that allowing other folks into that heart will make them realize how connected we all are. That’s the exciting part of this, realizing this kind of story can have such a wide reach behind who I ever imagined would read it.”

When Acevedo thinks about the recognition, the many awards, she feels a pride that she makes clear is “not pride as a creator, but pride as in God, I wish as a reader I had seen this kind of story and this kind of life and this kind of protagonist being told, ‘You deserve to be celebrated,’ because it would have changed my life.”

And she has reaction she describes as, “Heck yeah, a story like this deserves to be on the same shelves as so many other stories. Yes, this girl. Yes, a novel in verse. Yes, this community. It’s about time, right?”

Then there are those final thoughts she can’t shake.

“None of it makes sense to me,” Acevedo says, with a laugh. “I keep waiting for folks to be like, ‘Eh it’s not that good. There’s a lot of hype.’”

Now working on her third book, she hopes people will love her new characters and stories as much as they did her first novel. But if readers always want to talk to her about Xiomara and The Poet X, Acevedo knows that’s OK. She was “lucky” enough to talk to Speak author Laurie Halse Anderson, who told her sometimes a first book has such an impact on readers, they will always want to come back to it.

“‘It’s ok to let people have whatever experience they want to have with whatever books you put out and you just keep working toward the next thing,'” Acevedo remembered Halse saying. “‘That doesn’t stop you from working on your craft, that doesn’t stop you from writing better books.’..So that’s really what I’m trying to zoom in on.”