In celebration of this year’s National Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re recommending 12 titles released this year that we think you’ll love! This list is packed with a diverse range of stories about family, loss, addiction, identity — stories filled with school reunions, competitive trials, complicated politics, looming gentrification, dangerous romances, remixes on classic stories, hurricanes, and ravenous maybe-guardian angels. Looking for more? Check out our resource page for displays, lists, and essays.
Honestly, are high school reunions ever not a nightmare? When Andres, a gay Latinx man, returns to his hometown for his school’s 20th reunion, he’s forced to reckon with a number of relationships: with his father, his bully, his first love, his dead brother. All while confronting what it meant to have grown up in a town where “Gay was a death sentence. Gay was a target.” I didn’t realize until I was most of the way through that this book was Alejandro Varela’s debut; his writing is confident and deft, heartbreaking and beautiful. I’m already looking forward to Varela’s next book. — Moses M.
Olga, a high-powered wedding planner, works to keep her life as controlled as she can — until she meets a man in a bar. If this sounds like a rom-com set-up, it is, but Olga Dies Dreaming refuses to fall into formula. Trump-era American politics won’t allow for a limited perspective. — Keith M.
Portland author Aiden Thomas (Lost in the Never Woods, Cemetery Boys) is bringing all my favorite YA things in this duology opener: rich mythology, perilous competitive trials, teen drama, witty banter, found family, joyful queerness, and dazzling worldbuilding. Plus, if that wasn’t enough, there are so many fun birds. More YA books should have fun birds. — Sarah R.
Aiden Thomas will be in conversation with Adam Silvera at Powell's Books at Cedar Hills Crossing on October 10 to celebrate the release of Silvera's The First to Die at the End.
Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s debut novel is a vibrant tale of the West, and what connects — and divides — families across generations. Each character is infused with perspective and rich detail, resulting in a canvas so saturated that the novel teems with life and love. — Keith M.
For more on Keith M.'s appreciation of Woman of Light, check out his Powell's Picks Spotlight.
Honestly, in this not-yet-post-pandemic world of injustice and strife, can't we all identify as "the hurting kind" — "too sensitive, a weeper/ from a long line of weepers"? These beautifully crafted poems speak to the pandemic experience with its loss of loved ones, but also to the deep joy we encounter in observing animals and the natural world. Even a garden-thieving groundhog is regarded with love in this tender collection that speaks to the heart quietly: "a groundhog slippery and waddle-thieving my tomatoes, still green in the morning’s shade. I watched her munch and stand on her haunches, taking such pleasure in the watery bites. Why am I not allowed delight?" — Marianne T.
A devastating hurricane, a missing father, and a daughter, returned to Puerto Rico, determined to find him. After the Hurricane is a mystery wrapped around a deep, compelling story about a woman who, while looking for her father, must come to terms with her place in the world and her relationship to Puerto Rico. This is a book worth savoring. — Lucinda G.
I’ve had my eye on Silvia Moreno-Garcia ever since reading her lush, eerie Mexican Gothic, so when I heard about this one — a fresh take on H. G. Wells’s classic The Island of Doctor Moreau — I knew it was a book I’d have to check out. I love when an author clearly loves playing with genre. We’ve seen Moreno-Garcia work with horror, noir, sci-fi… Here, she’s playing with fantasy, romance, and adventure. There are mad scientists, lab-created “hybrids,” legacy-threatening affairs, and more. The Daughter of Doctor Moreau is a great time. — Kelsey F.
Zoraida Córdova’s first adult fantasy manages to be a family saga, a mystery, and a lush work of magical realism, all in one. Set in Ecuador and the US, the novel follows the Montoya family when they’re summoned back to the family home when the family’s matriarch, the titular Orquídea Divina, passes away (the best type of set up, in my opinion). Secrets and threats, protective magic and trouble on the horizon. A book rich with legend and folklore, The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina is enchanting. — Lucinda G.
I love a short story collection that goes as hard as Valleyesque does: absurd, funny, strange, delightful. In Valleyesque, you’ll find hungry angels, magical cloths, a dying Frédéric Chopin, psychedelic journeys, and a young, musical Lee Harvey Oswold. Flores knows how to walk the line between the surreal and the real. Valleyesque is a fun, unpredictable ride (the best kind!). — Kelsey F.
When an abstract artist meets a journalist, a complicated romance unfolds. The romance brings so much about their lives to the surface: language, emigration, exile, art, love, justice. This novel is introspective, thought-provoking, and deftly written and doesn’t shy away from the difficult questions. — Moses M.
In this debut novel from David Sanchez, we follow along on his narrator’s addiction journey as things in his life goes from bad to worse to… increasingly worse. The writing is often as harrowing as the story is, which is incredible to see work on the page. The journey isn’t an easy one, but it is more than worthwhile to watch the narrator try to find his way home. — Sarah R.
Neruda on the Park is the beautiful story of a Dominican family living in a New York City faced with encroaching gentrification. The family members choose their own, different approaches to the threat of high-end condominiums to their neighborhood. This book is riveting and lovely, dramatic and heart-rending, complex and nuance. You won’t be able to put it down. — Moses M.