June is Caribbean-American Heritage Month and we're celebrating by highlighting books with Caribbean-American characters.
Touching Snow by M. Sindy Felin. Haitian-American Karina is struggling with school--she's too busy trying to deal with her abusive step-father at home. When he beats her sister up badly enough, social services is called, but Karina's family wants her to take the blame for her sister's injuries.
Dark Dude by Oscar Hijuelos. Set in the late '60s, Cuban-American Rico's sick of being beat up for his white skin and poor Spanish (the result of a lengthy hospital stay as a child). When his friend Jimmy becomes a serious junky, Rico decides it's time to take a cue from Huck Finn, and runs away to a buddy's farm in Wisconsin. He blends in there, but it's still not the escape he thought it would be.
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez. Starting in their adulthood and working backwards, this novel-in-stories captures the Garcia sisters and how they fled the Dominican Republic in 1960 for New York, and were caught between worlds. For those who want more information about what was happening and why they escaped, read Alvarez's Before We Were Free, which tells the story of one of their cousins, whose family stayed.
Stormwitch by Susan Vaught. After her parents die in 1969, Ruba moves from Haiti to Mississippi. There, her grandmother doesn't approve of Ruba's religion, seeing it as witchcraft. There Ruba must quickly learn the ways and codes of the American South during the Civil Rights struggle, but when Hurricane Camille comes, it's Ruba's skills that just might save them.
Stir It Up by Ramin Ganeshram. Trinidadian-Indian-American Anjali loves helping in her parents' restaurant and taking cooking classes with her grandmother. Her parents don't understand how deep her passion for food really is though, until she enters a contest to get her own show on the Food Network.
The Trouble with Half a Moon by Danette Vigilante. Dellie's family is shattered by the death of her little brother, and in an attempt to keep her safe, Dellie is no longer allowed outside the house. Then new people move into her projects, making them rougher and less safe, and she befriends a young boy who is neglected and abused by his mother. There are many Caribbean-Americans in this novel from many different Caribbean countries.
The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano. In 1969, The Young Lords create in uprising in Evelyn's Spanish Harlem neighborhood. The fight spills into her own home, as Evelyn's grandmother supports the Puerto-Rican Young Lords, but her mother does not, with Evelyn caught in the middle. (Also, Manzano is probably BEST known as Maria from Sesame Street.)
Gold Dust by Chris Lynch. When a new kid, the Dominican immigrant, Napoleon, starts at his school, baseball obsessed Richard wants to turn him from a cricket player into a baseball player, thinking it will help them get through everything, including the racism that Napoleon encounters at the school.
Fresh Girl by Jaira Placide. Mardi was born in New York, but grew up in Haiti with her grandmother while her parents worked. After a coup, she and her sister flee back to the US where they have try to fit in while navigating their parents strict rules in a too-tiny apartment and try to deal with what happened in their last few days in Haiti.
What are your favorite books with Caribbean-Americans?
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