National Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15th to October 15th each year, in accordance with the anniversary of independence for many Latin American countries. It began as a commemorative week in 1968 and was signed into law as a full month of celebration in 1988. Broadly, it is a time to honor the “histories, cultures, and contributions” of Hispanic Americans and reflect on the power of the Nation’s diverse immigrant roots. This year’s particular theme is “Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation.”
To kickstart Bookstr’s observance of Hispanic Heritage Month, here are three impactful reads that showcase the power and beauty of celebrating one’s cultural identity. From a candid discussion on fighting assimilation to a sweeping coming-of-age tale, these are truly vibrant expositions on social diversity (and progress) told by inspiring, candid, and perseverent female voices.
by Isabel Allende
Violeta Del Valle has lived a long and extraordinary life. Born in 1920, Violeta was the first girl in the family, succeeding her five older brothers. Through her youth, she navigated through various events of historical weight – from the aftershocks of the Spanish flu to tyrannical politicians and the revolutionary fight for women’s rights. Her life of both joy and tumult leads readers to the present day, where an aged Violeta bears witness to the COVID-19 pandemic, rounding out her breathtaking coming-of-age tale.
Isabel Allende certainly needs no introduction. She has penned a multitude of bestsellers over the decades, cementing her as one of the most widely read Spanish-language authors worldwide. In her newest release, she provides us with a beautifully crafted story centered around one remarkable woman. Violeta’s journey is one of determination through loss and love, using humor through the hardships. If you want to connect deeply with a passionate and inspiring character, Violeta is an essential read.
Coffee Shop Read
by Julissa Arce
Drawing from her experience moving to Texas from Mexico as a child, Julissa Arce weaves together an essential cultural commentary piece about assimilation. Specifically, she implores the necessary fight against assimilation, reminding readers that being an American does not mean having to cut ties with your culture. Her well-crafted rebuttal to the assimilation myth as a path to success and belonging for immigrants powerfully envisions an America united around celebrating our diversity.
This half memoir, half social justice book is perhaps the most on-the-nose for this year’s theme for Hispanic Heritage Month. If you’re looking to explore inclusivity in earnest, Julissa Arce’s historical insight and personal reflections are a perfect place to start. On the whole, Arce’s inspiring testimony is an ever-necessary reminder to share our cultural roots with others and embrace the beauty in diversity.
by Angie Cruz
During the Great Recession, Cara Romero loses her longstanding job at a factory. Forced to contend with the chaotic and sparse job market in her mid-50s, Cara is feeling knocked down by life. After being set up with a job counselor, she recounts her life story. Over a total of twelve sessions, readers get to learn about the sum of life’s ups and downs through her fierce and funny narration. From her deepest secrets to her string of love affairs to her struggle with debt, Cara unabashedly shines despite tough circumstances.
Debuting on September 13th, this new release by Angie Cruz, author of Dominicana, brings forth a remarkable heroine that is sure to latch onto the hearts and minds of readers. If you like novels that take on a unique structure for storytelling, check out this compassionate and striking read that gives a first-hand account of the immigrant experience. Getting to know Cara is like sitting down with an old friend and talking openly about life.
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