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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

I don’t know about you, but one of the things that gets me through the fall is a good list of books. With the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month in full swing, there’s no better way to celebrate than by picking up a book by an author who has helped shape today’s culture through their voice and story. 

A multicultural reading palette helps create smarter and more empathetic readers while creating space for all voices to be heard in the literature realm. Also, many of these stories are just flat-out entertaining. So, while your To Be Read (TBR) list is probably already way too long, you’re going to want to run to your local library to grab one of these titles.

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

This title may already be familiar to you. Long considered a staple of classical conversations, Cisneros’ novel has become a time-honored story. Cisneros is Mexican-American and crafts a powerful narrative centering around Esperanza Cordero, a 12-year-old Chicana girl who is coming of age in Chicago’s Hispanic quarter. Cisneros bases Esperanza’s journey at least in part on her own experiences as a Chicana, and the story is better for it. Esperanza must navigate the last days of her adolescence as she begins to mature and grapple with the realities of being a woman in a community that is both poor and patriarchal. 

With themes of race, social class, identity, and gender all woven into the backbone of the novel, combined with the author’s depiction of Mexican-American culture, this book is a standout that has something for everyone. It also touches on several serious topics such as domestic violence, sexual harassment, and racism.

Considered a foundational text of Chicano literature, this book truly gives the culture of Mexican-Americans a chance to shine. Over the years since its release, which was in 1984 (now you know it’s a classic), it has garnered acclaim from the Hispanic and Latinx community due to its realistic and complex portrayals of the Hispanic and Latinx experience in the United States.

If all that wasn’t enough already, The House on Mango Street has won several major literary awards that help pad its book resumé, including the American Book Award. Yet despite the overwhelming praise, the book has been consistently included on lists of books banned due to its sensitive subject matter. In 2012, after being removed from the curriculum of a middle school in Oregon, intense public backlash mounted, and a campaign to “save Mango Street” was launched. After one former student wrote a letter to the school, the board voted to retain the book in its curriculum. 

Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales

This book is just perfect for fall. Written by another Mexican-American author, Gonzales tackles the high school experience with the story of Darcy, a girl who runs an anonymous relationship advice service out of her locker. When Darcy is caught collecting letters from her locker by a boy she hates, she agrees to help him win his ex back while fighting feelings for her best friend Brooke. 

Loved for its sweet story and relatable characters (we get some chaotic bisexual representation) by fans, Perfect on Paper does not shy away from the experience of young people coming to terms with their culture and sexuality. If you’re looking for a positive example of LGBTQIA+ representation, this one is for you. Darcy is bisexual and caught between the boy she thought she hated and the girl who’s always been her best friend. Bisexuality is already underrepresented in YA literature, not to mention the adolescent Mexican-American experience, so this book succeeds on two fronts.

The book also allows Darcy the freedom to make mistakes. We were all in high school once and can remember what it’s like to not know what we’re doing when it comes to relationships (unless you were the one person who had it all figured out back then, in which case, I’d like to meet you and ask how you did it). But Gonzales allows Darcy to grow and change over the course of a single book, and it’s a beautiful arc to witness. If you’re like me and need romance in your life, all the boxes are being checked here. 

Perfect Days by Raphael Montes

Though this book may also have “perfect” in its title, that’s about the only thing this story has in common with the previous novel. Written by Brazilian crime novelist Raphael Montes, Perfect Days is a book written in Spanish that has been translated and distributed to over 14 countries. It has some… dark material in it. But with fall upon us, a suspenseful thriller might be the shock to the system you need to power through the cold months.

Our story starts with a loner named Teo Avelar, a man living with his mother in Rio de Janeiro who finds better company in medical school cadavers than real people. That is until he meets Clarice, a girl who brings color and excitement to his life. Teo takes things a little too far and abducts her, beginning their wild journey across Brazil (don’t you just hate it when that happens?).

If you like a psychological thriller and setting that makes you feel like you’re there with the characters, definitely check this one out. And if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be inside the mind of a psychopath, or what we lovingly also refer to as an “antihero,” this tale of one man’s trek across the country with a girl captive for the ride is a harrowing and insightful story that will leave you thinking long after it’s over.

If you have a chance, read these stories. There are many more Hispanic and Latinx authors who have written incredible novels that help contribute to the culture of today with their inclusive and unique voices. Even when Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month is over, these stories are still worth reading.

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Havilah Sciabbarrasi is a senior at Florida State University and working toward a degree in Editing, Writing, and Media (AKA English). She is the current editor-in-chief of The Kudzu Review, an undergraduate literary magazine that takes submissions in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and visual art from students all over the country. When she's not busy writing her hot takes on all things campus, entertainment, and books, she can usually be found romanticizing New York, ranting on Goodreads, or rooting through the bins at her local Goodwill.