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*CCPL Staff picks are chosen by CCPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We’d love to hear your ideas too, so write to us and tell us what you’d recommend!*

What are Own Voices books?

Starting as a social media hashtag, Own Voices is a descriptor used to label books that feature protagonists from marginalized communities written by authors from those communities. This movement was created to remark on the distinction between having diverse representation in books and having those characters actually written by members of those communities. #OwnVoices was specifically created to address this issue amongst kid literature by Young Adult author Corrine Duyvis and has evolved into a marker across all demographics of readership.

For further explanation, here are two resources you can read through:

Own Voices: Latin America

According to Britannica, Latin America is generally considered to consist of all the countries in South America, Central America, and the islands of the Caribbean who speak a Romance language (such as Spanish and Portuguese). This month, we have put together a list of books by authors of Latin American heritage. 

The Book of Lost Saints by Daniel José Older

Marisol vanished during the Cuban Revolution, disappearing with hardly a trace. Now, shaped by atrocities long-forgotten, her tenacious spirit visits her nephew, Ramón, in modern-day New Jersey. Her hope: that her presence will prompt him to unearth their painful family history. Ramón launches a haphazard investigation into the story of his ancestor, unaware of the forces driving him on his search. Along the way, he falls in love, faces a run-in with a murderous gangster, and uncovers the lives of the lost saints who helped Marisol during her imprisonment. – From Cosmos

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Carlota Moreau: A young woman growing up on a distant and luxuriant estate, safe from the conflict and strife of the Yucatán peninsula. The only daughter of a researcher who is either a genius or a madman.

Montgomery Laughton: A melancholic overseer with a tragic past and a propensity for alcohol. An outcast who assists Dr. Moreau with his experiments, which are financed by the Lizaldes, owners of magnificent haciendas and plentiful coffers.

The hybrids: The fruits of the doctor’s labor, destined to blindly obey their creator and remain in the shadows. A motley group of part human, part animal monstrosities.

All of them live in a perfectly balanced and static world, which is jolted by the abrupt arrival of Eduardo Lizalde, the charming and careless son of Dr. Moreau’s patron, who will unwittingly begin a dangerous chain reaction.

For Moreau keeps secrets, Carlota has questions, and, in the sweltering heat of the jungle, passions may ignite.

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau is both a dazzling historical novel and a daring science fiction journey. – From Publisher

Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras

Seven-year-old Chula lives a carefree life in her gated community in Bogotá, but the threat of kidnappings, car bombs, and assassinations hover just outside her walls, where the godlike drug lord Pablo Escobar reigns, capturing the attention of the nation.

When her mother hires Petrona, a live-in-maid from the city’s guerrilla-occupied slum, Chula makes it her mission to understand Petrona’s mysterious ways. Petrona is a young woman crumbling under the burden of providing for her family as the rip tide of first love pulls her in the opposite direction. As both girls’ families scramble to maintain stability amidst the rapidly escalating conflict, Petrona and Chula find themselves entangled in a web of secrecy.

Inspired by the author’s own life, Fruit of the Drunken Tree is a powerful testament to the impossible choices women are often forced to make in the face of violence and the unexpected connections that can blossom out of desperation. – From Publisher

¡Hola Papi! : How to come out in a Walmart parking lot and other life lessons by John Paul Brammer

The popular LGBTQ advice columnist and writer presents a memoir-in-essays chronicling his journey growing up as a queer, mixed-race kid in America’s heartland to becoming the “Chicano Carrie Bradshaw” of his generation. The first time someone called Brammer “Papi” was on the gay hookup app Grindr. At first he took this as white-guy speak for “hey, handsome.” What started as a racialized moniker given to him on the hookup app soon became the inspiration for his now wildly popular advice column. Here Brammer shares his story of growing up biracial and in the closet in America’s heartland, while attempting to answer some of life’s toughest questions. This book is for anyone– gay, straight, and everything in between– who has ever taken stock of their unique place in the world. – From Cosmos

The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Córdova

The Montoyas are used to a life without explanations. They know better than to ask why the pantry never seems to run low, or why their matriarch won’t ever leave their home in Four Rivers—not for graduations, weddings, or baptisms. But when Orquídea Divina invites them to her funeral and to collect their inheritance, they hope to learn the secrets that she has held onto so tightly their whole lives. Instead, Orquídea is transformed into a ceiba tree, leaving them with more questions than answers.

Seven years later, her gifts have manifested in different ways for Marimar, Rey, and Rhiannon, granting them unexpected blessings and powers. But soon, a hidden figure begins to tear through their family tree, picking them off one by one as it seeks to destroy Orquídea’s line. Determined to save what’s left of their family and uncover the truth behind their inheritance, her descendants travel to Ecuador—to the place where Orquídea buried her secrets and broken promises and never looked back.

Alternating between Orquídea’s past and her descendants’ present, The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina is a “spellbinding tale, both timeless and fresh, that will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page. Prepare to fall in love” (Kim Liggett, New York Times bestselling author). – From Publisher

Mango, Mambo, and Murder by Raquel V. Reyes

Food anthropologist Miriam Quiñones-Smith’s move from New York to Coral Shores, Miami, puts her academic career on hold to stay at home with her young son. Adding to her funk is an opinionated mother-in-law and a husband rekindling a friendship with his ex. Gracias to her best friend, Alma, she gets a short-term job as a Caribbean cooking expert on a Spanish-language morning TV show. But when the newly minted star attends a Women’s Club luncheon, a socialite sitting at her table suddenly falls face-first into the chicken salad, never to nibble again. When a second woman dies soon after, suspicions coalesce around a controversial Cuban herbalist, Dr. Fuentes–especially after the morning show’s host collapses while interviewing him. Detective Pullman is not happy to find Miriam at every turn. After he catches her breaking into the doctor’s apothecary, he enlists her help as eyes and ears to the places he can’t access, namely the Spanish-speaking community and the tawny Coral Shores social scene. As the ingredients to the deadly scheme begin blending together, Miriam is on the verge of learning how and why the women died. But her snooping may turn out to be a recipe for her own murder. – From Cosmos

Neruda on the Park by Cleyvis Natera

The Guerreros have lived in Nothar Park, a predominantly Dominican part of New York City, for twenty years. When demolition begins on a neighboring tenement, Eusebia, an elder of the community, takes matters into her own hands by devising an increasingly dangerous series of schemes to stop construction of the luxury condos. Meanwhile, Eusebia’s daughter, Luz, a rising associate at a top Manhattan law firm who strives to live the bougie lifestyle her parents worked hard to give her, becomes distracted by a sweltering romance with the handsome white developer at the company her mother so vehemently opposes.

As Luz’s father, Vladimir, secretly designs their retirement home in the Dominican Republic, mother and daughter collide, ramping up tensions in Nothar Park, racing toward a near-fatal climax.

A beautifully layered portrait of family, friendship, and ambition, Neruda on the Park weaves a rich and vivid tapestry of community as well as the sacrifices we make to protect what we love most, announcing Cleyvis Natera as an electrifying new voice. – From Publisher

Violeta by Isabel Allende

Violeta comes into the world on a stormy day in 1920, the first girl in a family of five boisterous sons. The ripples of the Great War are still being felt, even as the Spanish flu arrives on the shores of her South American homeland almost at the moment of her birth. As the Great Depression transforms the genteel city life she has known, Violeta’s family loses all and is forced to retreat to a wild and beautiful but remote part of the country. She tells her story in the form of a letter to someone she loves above all others, recounting devastating heartbreak and passionate affairs, times of both poverty and wealth, terrible loss and immense joy. Her life will be shaped by some of the most important events of history: the fight for women’s rights, the rise and fall of tyrants, and, ultimately, not one but two pandemics. – From Cosmos