Coming of Age: Big Changes

Adolescence is full of ups and downs and twists and turns. The young people featured in these stories face big changes such as moving to a new neighborhood or adjusting to the loss of a loved one. Recommended for grades 7-12.

Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx

A photo of young Sonia Manzano coming down the stairs

Set in the 1950s in the Bronx, the story of Emmy award-winning actress and writer Sonia Manzano ("Maria" from Sesame Street) plunges us into the daily lives of a Latino family that is loving and troubled. When readers meet young Sonia, she is a child living amidst the squalor of a boisterous home that is filled with noisy relatives and nosy neighbors. Each day she is glued to the TV screen that blots out the painful realities of her existence and also illuminates the possibilities that lie ahead.

Burn Baby Burn

Nora Lopez is seventeen during the infamous New York summer of 1977, when the city is besieged by arson, a massive blackout, and a serial killer named Son of Sam who shoots young women on the streets. Nora’s family life isn’t going so well either: her bullying brother, Hector, is growing more threatening by the day, her mother is helpless and falling behind on the rent, and her father calls only on holidays. All Nora wants is to turn eighteen and be on her own.

Coming Up Cuban

Four young Cubans in different scenes
Language: Spanish

Fifteen-time Emmy Award winner and Pura Belpré honoree Sonia Manzano examines the impact of the 1959 Cuban Revolution on four children from very different walks of life. In the wake of a new regime in Cuba, Ana, Miguel, Zulema, and Juan learn to find a place for themselves in a world forever changed. In a tumultuous moment of history, we see the lasting effects of a revolution in Havana, the countryside, Miami, and New York. Through these snapshot stories, we are reminded that regardless of any tumultuous times, we are all forever connected in our humanity.

Downtown Boy

"In 1950s California, 10-year-old Juanito is tired of moving with his migrant-worker parents and staying in relatives' homes in San Francisco's Mission District. He aches for his often-absent father. Finally, Papi returns, and home becomes San Diego, where Juanito settles into a deeper sense of place and faces family secrets and hardship." — Booklist

Dreams of Significant Girls

Product Description: Brought together each summer at a boarding school in Switzerland, three girls learn a lot more than just French and European culture. Shirin, an Iranian princess; Ingrid, a German-Canadian eccentric; and Vivien, a Cuban-Jewish New Yorker culinary phenom, are thrown into each other's lives when they become roommates. This is a story of 3 paths slowly beginning to cross and merge as they spend the summers together and form an unbreakable bond.

Echo: A Novel

Illustration of children in a forest
Age Level: Middle Grade (9-14)
Language: Spanish

Product Description: Pam Muñoz Ryan weaves together three stories of young people living through a tumultuous period in the 20th century: 12-year-old Friedrich Schmidt in 1933 Germany, as the Nazi Party gains momentum; orphaned 11-year-old Mike Flannery in 1935 Philadelphia during the Depression; and Ivy Maria Lopez living in Southern California in 1942 as World War II rages. Their stories revolve around a single Hohner Marine Band harmonica and are framed by a tale of a lost boy, three sisters, and a witch's curse. Newbery Honor Book.

Facts of Life: Stories

"Pivotal moments in the lives of California Latino teens and tweens provide the starting points for Soto's collection of 10 new stories. For Letty, it's the realization that her boyfriend loves her money more than he does her; for Hector, it's the announcement of his parents' plan to divorce; for Laurita, a Chicana, it's the discovery that she's illegal; and for Lisa, it's the experience of a moment of beauty in her otherwise drab life." — Booklist

Himawari House

Three teenagers on balcony

Living in a new country is no walk in the park ― Nao, Hyejung, and Tina can all attest to that. The three of them became fast friends through living together in the Himawari House in Tokyo and attending the same Japanese cram school. Nao came to Japan to reconnect with her Japanese heritage, while Hyejung and Tina came to find freedom and their own paths. Though each of them has her own motivations and challenges, they all deal with language barriers, being a fish out of water, self discovery, love, and family.

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

Picture of a young woman's braid

Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family. But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role. Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. But it’s not long before Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as perfect as everyone thought.

I Lived on Butterfly Hill

Girl Sitting on Rooftop
Illustrated by: Lee White
Language: English, Spanish vocabulary featured

Product Description: Celeste Marconi is a dreamer. She lives peacefully among friends and neighbors and family in the idyllic town of Valparaiso, Chile — until the time comes when even Celeste, with her head in the clouds, can't deny the political unrest that is sweeping through the country and is eventually sent by her parents to Maine. Accented with interior artwork, steeped in the history of Pinochet's catastrophic takeover of Chile, and based on many true events, this multicultural ode to the power of revolution, words, and love is both indelibly brave and heartwrenchingly graceful.

I Wanna Be Your Shoebox

Product Description: Because Yumi Ruíz-Hirsch has grandparents from Japan, Cuba, and Brooklyn, her mother calls her a poster child for the twenty-first century. Yumi would laugh if only her life wasn't getting as complicated as her heritage. Yumi wishes everything could stay the same. But as she listens to her grandfather tell his story, she learns that nobody ever asks you if you're ready for life to happen.

Leaving Glorytown: One Boy's Struggle Under Castro

"This is a rare look at Cuban life from 1959 to 1969, when Calcines' family managed to emigrate. The author was born into an exuberant extended family whose enjoyable lives changed abruptly after the revolution. Food became scarce, jobs disappeared, and harsh restrictions were imposed. Eventually, Calcines' parents made the difficult choice to apply for a visa to America. From then on, life became a daily nightmare…Calcines' book will captivate readers and open a door to a subject seldom written about for teens." — Booklist

Lucky Broken Girl

New York city-scape with flowers
Language: English, Spanish vocabulary featured

In this multicultural coming-of-age narrative — based on the author’s childhood in the 1960s — a young Cuban-Jewish immigrant girl is adjusting to her new life in New York City when her American dream is suddenly derailed. Ruthie’s plight will intrigue readers, and her powerful story of strength and resilience, full of color, light, and poignancy, will stay with them for a long time.

Marcelo In The Real World

Marcelo Sandoval, a 17-year-old with an Asperger's-like condition, has arranged a job caring for ponies at his special school's therapeutic-riding stables. But he is forced to exit his comfort zone when his high-powered father steers Marcelo to work in his law firm's mailroom…Readers enter his private world as he navigates the unfamiliar realm of menial tasks and office politics with the ingenuity of a child, his voice never straying from authenticity even as the summer strips away some of his differences. — Publishers Weekly

Mexikid: A Graphic Memoir

Young boy near a Winnebago
Age Level: Middle Grade (9-14)
Language: Spanish vocabulary featured

Pedro Martín has grown up hearing stories about his abuelito — his legendary crime-fighting, grandfather who was once a part of the Mexican Revolution! 

But that doesn't mean Pedro is excited at the news that Abuelito is coming to live with their family. After all, Pedro has 8 brothers and sisters and the house is crowded enough!

Milagros: Girl from Away

Milagros de le Torre hasn’t had an easy life: ever since her father sailed away with pirates she’s been teased at school, and her family struggles to make ends meet. Still, Milagros loves her small island in the Caribbean, and she finds comfort in those who recognize her special gifts. But everything changes when marauders destroy Milagros’s island and with it, most of the inhabitants. Milagros manages to escape in a rowboat where she drifts out to sea with no direction, save for the mysterious manta rays that guide her to land.

New from Here

Young boy sits on the curb

When the coronavirus hits Hong Kong, ten-year-old Knox Wei-Evans’s mom makes the last-minute decision to move him and his siblings back to California, where they think they will be safe. Suddenly, Knox has two days to prepare for an international move — and for leaving his dad, who has to stay for work. At his new school in California, Knox struggles with being the new kid. His classmates think that because he’s from Asia, he must have brought over the virus.

Poe Park

"The day after Enoch Morales graduates from elementary school, his mother throws him a surprise eleventh-birthday party, and his best friend, Spencer, gives him an iguana. The following day, the two boys are playing outside when Spencer is shot and killed. Over the summer, Enoch tries to cope with his shock and anger, his growing certainty that Spencer had become involved in a gang, and his mixed feelings about his older half brother, who has moved from Puerto Rico to New York City to live with Enoch and his mother.

Return to Sender

When Tyler's father is injured in a tractor accident, the family decides to hire a family of Mexican migrant workers. For Tyler, the workers' presence on the farm — as well as that of the three young daughters — is shrouded in mystery. As he develops a friendship with Mari, the eldest, he begins to wonder about the family's immigration status and what it means to be patriotic. In the meantime, Mari struggles with her own complicated feelings and worries about her mother, who is missing.

Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers

Illustrations that look like scout badges, the center one showing a group of girls.

When three very different girls find a mysterious invitation to a lavish mansion, the promise of adventure and mischief is too intriguing to pass up. Ofelia Castillo (a budding journalist), Aster Douglas (a bookish foodie), and Cat Garcia (a rule-abiding birdwatcher) meet the kid behind the invite, Lane DiSanti, and it isn't love at first sight. But they soon bond over a shared mission to get the Floras, their local Scouts, to ditch an outdated tradition.

Sunny G's Series of Rash Decisions

Young man dancing and riding a motorcycle

Sunny G's brother left him one thing when he died: His notebook, which Sunny is determined to fill up with a series of rash decisions. Decision number one was a big one: He stopped wearing his turban, cut off his hair, and shaved his beard. He doesn't look like a Sikh anymore. He doesn't look like himself anymore. Even his cosplay doesn't look right without his beard. Sunny debuts his new look at prom, which he's stuck going to alone.

Sylvia & Aki

Sylvia & Aki

Product Description: Sylvia Mendez never expected to be at the center of a landmark legal battle; all she wanted was to enroll in school. Aki Munemitsu never expected to be relocated to a Japanese internment camp in the Arizona desert; all she wanted was to stay on her family farm and finish the school year. The two girls certainly never expected to know each other, until their lives intersected in Southern California during a time when their country changed forever. Based on a true story.

The Color of My Words

Coming of age girl through poetry and prose

Product Description: Twelve-year-old Ana Rosa is a blossoming writer growing up in the Dominican Republic, a country where words are feared. Yet there is so much inspiration all around her — watching her brother search for a future, learning to dance and to love, and finding out what it means to be part of a community — that Ana Rosa must write it all down. As she struggles to find her own voice and a way to make it heard, Ana Rosa realizes the power of her words to transform the world around her — and to transcend the most unthinkable of tragedies.

The Jumping Tree

Product Description: These lively stories follow Rey Castaneda from sixth through eighth grade in Nuevo Penitas, Texas. As Rey begins to cross the border from childhood into manhood, he turns from jokes and games to sense the meaning of work, love, poverty, and grief, and what it means to be a proud Chicano — moments that sometimes propel him to show feelings un hombre should never express. It's a new territory where Rey longs to follow the example his hardworking, loving father has set for him.

The Moon Within

Illustration of girl in red dress dancing in front of the moon wearing a heart necklace.

Celi Rivera's life swirls with questions. About her changing body. Her first attraction to a boy. And her best friend's exploration of what it means to be genderfluid.

But most of all, her mother's insistence she have a moon ceremony when her first period arrives. It's an ancestral Mexica ritual that Mima and her community have reclaimed, but Celi promises she will NOT be participating. Can she find the power within herself to take a stand for who she wants to be?

The Pregnancy Project: A Memoir

Product Description: Growing up, Gaby Rodriguez was often told she would end up a teen mom. Gaby had ambitions that didn't include teen motherhood. But she wondered: how would she be treated if she "lived down" to others' expectations? These questions sparked Gaby's school project: faking her own pregnancy as a high school senior to see how her family, friends, and community would react. What she learned changed her life forever, and made international headlines in the process.

The Tequila Worm

Sofia is a Mexican-American living in Texas. When she is accepted to a prestigious, predominantly white boarding school, she learns how to meld her Mexican-American roots with her new life. The author includes lots of detail about Mexican culture and heritage.

Wanting Mor

Afghan girl with head scarf

Jameela lives with her mother and father in Afghanistan. Despite the fact that there is no school in their poor, war-torn village, and though Jameela lives with a birth defect that has left her with a cleft lip, she feels relatively secure, sustained by her unwavering faith and the strength of her beloved mother, Mor. But when Mor suddenly dies, Jameela’s father impulsively decides to seek a new life in Kabul.

With a Star in My Hand: Rubén Darío, Poetry Hero

Figure holding star

As a little boy, Rubén Darío loved to listen to his great uncle, a man who told tall tales in a booming, larger-than-life voice. Rubén quickly learned the magic of storytelling, and discovered the rapture and beauty of verse. He began to improvise his own poetic forms so he could capture the entire world in his words.

Written in the Stars

Young girl looking at archway

Naila's conservative immigrant parents have always said the same thing: She may choose what to study, how to wear her hair, and what to be when she grows up — but they will choose her husband. Following their cultural tradition, they will plan an arranged marriage for her. And until then, dating — even friendship with a boy — is forbidden. When Naila breaks their rule by falling in love with Saif, her parents are livid. Convinced she has forgotten who she truly is, they travel to Pakistan to visit relatives and explore their roots.

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass

blue locker
Age Level: Young adult (14-18)
Language: English, Spanish vocabulary featured

One morning before school, some girl tells Piddy Sanchez that Yaqui Delgado hates her and wants to kick her ass. Piddy doesn’t even know who Yaqui is, never mind what she’s done to get her attention. But as the harassment escalates, avoiding Yaqui and her gang starts to take over Piddy’s life. Is there any way for Piddy to survive without closing herself off or running away? In an all-too-realistic novel dealing head-on with bullying, Meg Medina draws upon her own experiences to portray a sympathetic heroine who is forced to decide who she really is. Winner Pura Belpré award.