10 of the Best Latinx Young Adult Books of 2019


With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

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This has been an emotional ass week and for the first time I saw a copy of WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH. This is the story of Emoni Santiago, a teen mom who wants to be a chef but isn’t sure if following that dream is best for her family. This character arrived to me fully formed and whispering in my ear and on May 7th she will be in the world. To be honest, THE POET X has done so well that I’m scared anything I make after won’t be good enough…but part of being a storyteller and writer is stretching myself to tell new stories and believing in my talent enough not to give into the fear. So, I’m not going to psych myself out of joy and I’m going to trust the instinct that led me to write this in the first place. I can’t wait for you all to read this. 🌺

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Food is huge in Latinx culture and for this follow-up to the mega-successful debut The Poet X, Dominican author Elizabeth Acevedo takes a cue from the beloved novel Like Water for Chocolate showcasing a teen’s love affair with food. With the Fire on High tells the story of Afro Emoni Santiago, a single mom on her senior year of high school balancing motherhood, school, family, a budding romance and her passion for culinary arts. The dishes reflect both her African American and Puerto Rican roots and through her cooking she learns about her heritage but also makes each dish her own, letting her personality shine through.  “I hope young Latinx readers, particularly if they are Afro-Latinx, see that they are allowed to be the heroes, they are allowed to live loudly and colorfully and with their whole selves,” Acevedo told HipLatina earlier this year.

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