Summer’s finally here and we all know what that means—time to finally read! Throughout the rest of the year, we might get so busy with our lives that we forget to take the time to slow down, crack open a book, and get transported to another world. Plus, this summer is the perfect season for easy, lighthearted reading by the beach or pool or wherever you like to relax. We should always be reading about the struggles our community faces every day, from racism to deportation to xenophobia. But it’s also important to read books where their Latinx characters are centered in positive, uplifting ways and live lives as regular people without the harder implications—going to school, traveling, falling in love.
This list is by no means exhaustive but hopefully will be a starting point as you put together your beach bag reads for the summer. We love that each book isn’t afraid to turn away from the lows of life but ultimately brings their stories to a satisfying happy ending. Read on to learn more about the 13 books you should be reading this summer that are inspiring, comforting, and swoon-worthy.
West Side Love Story by Priscilla Oliveras
Written by Puerto Rican-Mexican American author Priscilla Oliveras, West Side Love Story is the Romeo and Juliet retelling for fans of mariachi, sisterhood stories, and powerful Latina women. The novel follows the star-crossed love of Mariana Capuleta and Angelo Montero, who find themselves caught between their feuding families when both of their mariachi bands enter the same Battle of the Mariachi Bands competition. While the couple grows closer, fizzling out from enemies to passionate lovers, so do the stakes. Secrets, betrayals, rivalries, broken ties, sacrifices, misunderstandings, and, despite everything, attempts towards peace, abound in this moving, heart-wrenching story.
You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria
Telenovela fans, You Had Me at Hola by internationally best-selling author Alexis Daria is the read for you! This steamy romance novel follows Jasmine Lin Rodriguez, a telenovela starlet who undergoes a messy break-up that’s quickly splashed across every tabloid in the country. To repair her image, she returns to her NYC hometown to star in a new telenovela alongside leading man Ashton Suárez. While the two get off on the wrong foot during their first meeting, their on-screen chemistry slowly blossoms into a real-life romance. But not only is Jasmine’s career now at risk, but also Ashton’s deepest secret. Be sure to read the book before its sequel, A Lot Like Adiós, which was released last year!
A Proposal They Can’t Refuse by Natalie Caña
A Proposal They Can’t Refuse by Puerto Rican-Dominican author Natalie Caña is the first in an upcoming trilogy of Latinx romance novels centering on a Puerto Rican family in Humboldt Park, Chicago. In Caña’s debut, chef Kamilah Vega is determined to update her family’s Puerto Rican restaurant, even if that means surrendering to their neighborhood’s gentrification. Meanwhile, Liam Kane, an Irish-American whiskey distiller, hopes to enter his family’s distillery into a national competition. The problem? They will each only get what they want if they obey their respective grandfathers and marry each other. The idea is ludicrous, absurd even, so Kamilah and Liam decide to fake the engagement to get what they want and their grandfathers off their backs—only to realize that maybe what they also want is each other.
Ramón and Julieta by Alana Quintana Albertson
Written by Alana Quintana Albertson, the author of 30 novels (yes, 30!), Ramón and Julieta is the first in the “Love and Tacos” series. This Romeo and Juliet retelling follows the seemingly doomed love between celebrity chef and failing seafood taqueria Julieta Campos, and Ramón Montez, the sole heir to his father’s fast food empire. After the two hook up on Día de los Muertos without knowing each other’s true identities, chaos ensues between the pair, their feuding families, and their San Diego community. Loyalties are tested, peace disturbed, and love somehow still surviving above it all.
No Filter and Other Lies by Crystal Maldonado
In young adult author Crystal Maldonado‘s second novel No Filter and Other Lies, Puerto Rican-American teen Kat Sanchez is struggling with her life as a fat, brown girl in Bakersfield, California. Her passion for photography isn’t getting the Instagram clout she wants, her best friend Hari is stall harboring unrequited feelings for her, and her whole family dynamic is awkward and frustrating to navigate. But when she starts posting photos she took of one of her friends on a new IG account and going by the name Max, suddenly the follows, likes, comments, and attention from her new friend Elena are too addicting to walk away from. It’s only when Kat gets caught that she is forced to confront her own lies, her catfishing, and who she really is inside.
With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
Elizabeth Acevedo‘s YA novel With the Fire on High follows Emoni Santiago, a teen mother struggling to balance her responsibilities for her young daughter and grandmother with school, a social life, and dreams of being a world-renowned chef—even while she believes it’s impossible. The novel, while structurally different from Acevedo’s previous best-selling novels in verse The Poet X and Clap When You Land, is still full of gorgeous language, relatable characters, and powerful, heart-wrenching moments.
The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Best known for her best-selling novel Mexican Gothic, Mexican Canadian novelist Silvia Moreno-Garcia has blessed readers with her most recently published work The Beautiful Ones. Set in the fictional world of Loisail, this magical romance follows Nina and her hopes to join the coveted ranks of The Beautiful Ones, the country’s most notable socialites, and her romance with entertainer Hector Auvray. They grow close when they discover each other’s telekinetic abilities but just as romance seems to be on the cards, Hector reveals a secret that may threaten her reputation and their courtship. For both long-time fans and newcomers to Moreno-Garcia’s work, this is the perfect read to check out before the release of her next novel, The Daughter of Doctor Moreau, out July 19, 2022!
Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez
Furia by Argentian American author Yamile Saied Méndez is the story of Camila Hassan, both the dutiful daughter of strict parents and a fierce, unbeatable player on the soccer field. When her soccer team is eligible to play in a South American tournament, she sees a chance to prove her talents and win a scholarship to a university in North America. The problem is, she needs her parents’ permission to go and, because of their culture, they would never allow a girl to play fútbol. Not to mention that Camila’s old flame and international soccer star Diego is back in town, testing her loyalties, secrets, dreams, and hopes for the future. Following its original release in 2020, Furia was a Reese’s YA Book Club selection and the 2021 Inaugural Pura Belpré Young Adult Gold Medalist!
Once Upon a Quinceñera by Monica Gomez-Hira
The daughter of Colombian immigrants, Monica Gomez-Hira made her literary debut earlier this month with the laugh-out-loud rom-com Once Upon a Quinceañera. Its protagonist Carmen Aguilar is struggling to be happy with her summer, thanks to her unpaid summer internship, a spoiled cousin, a still-attractive ex, and a quinceañera she doesn’t want. Will she get the happily ever after she knows she deserves, or will her summer be nothing but broken hearts, telenovela-worthy twists, and a disaster of a fifteenth birthday?
Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet by Laeken Zea Kemp
Before reading Laeken Zea Kemp’s newest novel Heartbreak Symphony, be sure to catch her award-winning debut novel Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet! This romance centers Penelope Prado, who longs to open a pastelería next to her father’s restaurant against her parents’ wishes, and Xander Amaro, who hopes to finally settle down while finding the father who abandoned him. After a chance meeting where Xander starts working at Penelope’s father’s restaurant, both Xander’s immigrant status and the restaurant are threatened, testing the true strength of his and Penelope’s new love. As the story unfolds, they are also forced to navigate found families, the power of food, their Chicanx identities, and where they each call home.
A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey
Selected as a Reese’s YA Book Club pick, The Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey follows Lila Reyes, a Miami girl who dreams of inheriting her abuela’s panadería, moving in with her best friend after graduation, and living the happily ever after life after graduation. But those dreams suddenly fall apart, along with Lila, whose parents quickly ship her off to Winchester, England for rest and relaxation. It’s not until she meets and finds unexpected romance with Orion Maxwell, a charming teashop clerk, that she begins to dream of a different life for herself, even if that means leaving behind everything she’s ever known, wanted, and loved.
How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love With the Universe by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland
Winner of the Pura Belpré Award, How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love With the Universe by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland is the story of Mexican-American teen Moon Fuentez, the ugly, unwanted sister and camerawoman to her famous social media influencer twin. But her fate slowly begins to change when she takes on a summer job as her sister’s “merch girl,” joins her tour bus on a cross-country social media tour, and meets Santiago Phillips. While at first immediate enemies, the pair slowly come to question their feelings for each other, their knowledge of the universe, and their beliefs about themselves.
Crying in the Bathroom by Erika L. Sanchez
Best known for her best-selling debut novel I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter (soon to be a feature film directed by America Ferrera!), Erika L. Sanchez is enchanting readers with her new memoir Crying in the Bathroom! Told in a series of essays, Sanchez details her life growing up as the foul-mouthed daughter of Mexican immigrants in Chicago, not to mention a pariah, misfit, disappointment, and rabble-rouser. Throughout the book, she also covers her greatest passions and frustrations including sex, white feminism, and depression—all with unflinching insightfulness, boldness, wit, and brutal honesty.