Back to Blog

Caribbean Heritage Month is celebrated in the month of June. It honors the contributions of Caribbean Americans to our society. We want to encourage you to learn more about Caribbean and Caribbean-American culture with this reading list of books by authors of Caribbean heritage. 

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

(From Hoopla)In a novel-in-verse that brims with grief and love, National Book Award-winning and New York Times-bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo writes about the devastation of loss, the difficulty of forgiveness, and the bittersweet bonds that shape our lives.

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.

And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.

American Street by Ibi Zoboi

(From Overdrive) In this stunning debut novel, Pushcart-nominated author Ibi Zoboi draws on her own experience as a young Haitian immigrant, infusing this lyrical exploration of America with magical realism and vodou culture. On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie-a good life. But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own. Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?

 

The Art of White Roses by Viviana Prado-Núñez

(From Overdrive) It is 1957 in Marianao, a suburb of Havana. Adela Santiago is 13 years old and lives in a small blue house with her mother, father, brother, and grandfather. And yet something is amiss. The students on her street are disappearing. Not only that but her parents’ marriage seems to be disintegrating and her cousin is caught up in a bombing at the Hotel Nacional. Welcome to a world where a revolution is brewing. Welcome to Cuba. An insight into what it is like to be young when bad things happen and it is not your fault.

Becoming Maria: Love And Chaos In The South Bronx by Sonia Manzano

(From Hoopla) The Pura Belpré Honor winner for The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano and one of America’s most influential Hispanics–Maria on Sesame Street–delivers a beautifully wrought coming-of-age memoir. Set in the 1970s in the Bronx, this is the story of a girl with a dream. Emmy Award-winning actress and writer Sonia Manzano plunges us into the daily lives of a Latino family that is loving–and troubled. This is Sonia’s own story rendered with an unforgettable narrative power. 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. But–click!–when the TV goes off, Sonia is taken back to real life–the cramped, colorful world of her neighborhood and an alcoholic father. But it is Sonia’s dream of becoming an actress that keeps her afloat among the turbulence of her life and times. Spiced with culture, heartache, and humor, this memoir paints a lasting portrait of a girl’s resilience as she grows up to become an inspiration to millions.

Antes de ser Libres by Julia Alvarez

(From Overdrive) Anita de la Torre never questioned her freedom living in the Dominican Republic. But by her 12th birthday in 1960, most of her relatives had emigrated to the United States, her Tío Toni had disappeared without a trace, and the government’s secret police terrorized her remaining family because of their suspected opposition to el Trujillo’s dictatorship.

Using the strength and courage of her family, Anita must overcome her fears and fly to freedom, leaving all that she once knew behind.

From renowned author Julia Alvarez, comes an unforgettable story about adolescence, perseverance, and one girl’s struggle to be free.

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite

(From Overdrive) Alaine Beauparlant has heard about Haiti all her life…

But the stories were always passed down from her dad—and her mom, when she wasn’t too busy with her high-profile newscaster gig. But when Alaine’s life goes a bit sideways, it’s time to finally visit Haiti herself.

What she learns about Haiti’s proud history as the world’s first black republic (with its even prouder people) is one thing, but what she learns about her own family is another. Suddenly, the secrets Alaine’s mom has been keeping, including a family curse that has spanned generations, can no longer be avoided.

It’s a lot to handle, without even mentioning that Alaine is also working for her aunt’s nonprofit, which sends underprivileged kids to school and boasts one annoyingly charming intern.

But if anyone can do it all…it’s Alaine.

The Education Of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera

(From Hoopla) John Hughes’ Pretty in Pink comes to the South Bronx. 

Things/People Margot Hates: 

  • Mami, for destroying her social life
  • Papi, for allowing Junior to become a Neanderthal
  • Junior, for becoming a Neanderthal
  • The supermarket
  • Everyone else

After “borrowing” her father’s credit card to finance a more stylish wardrobe, Margot Sanchez suddenly finds herself grounded. And by grounded, she means working as an indentured servant in her family’s struggling grocery store to pay off her debts. With each order of deli meat she slices, Margot can feel her carefully cultivated prep school reputation slipping through her fingers, and she’s willing to do anything to get out of this punishment. Lie, cheat, and maybe even steal. Margot’s invitation to the ultimate beach party is within reach and she has no intention of letting her family’s drama or Moises — the admittedly good looking but outspoken boy from the neighborhood — keep her from her goal.