11 Books By Latinas Every Feminist Should Add To Their Collection

Just one way to practice intersectional feminism.

For decades, Latina authors have written empowering stories of women navigating family, culture and societal norms to find their true selves.

Books by Gabby Rivera and Alida Nugent have most recently helped paint a portrait of what it means to be a Latina feminist today. But even before these women put pen to paper, authors like Sandra Cisneros and Laura Esquivel were already paving the way with narratives centered on strong Latina women.

In the spirit of intersectional feminism, we compiled a list of 11 books by Latina authors that every feminist should read.

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera
Juliet Takes a Breath follows the story of Juliet Palante, a queer puertorriqueña who leaves the Bronx bustle (and her mami’s delicious arroz con maíz) for a summer in Portland, Oregon, where she interns for her fave feminist author Harlow Brisbane. During this time, the naïve, passionate and always hilarious Juliet comes out to her Latinx familia, gets some textbook and real-life instructions on feminism, queer terminology and radical politics, experiences the ups and downs of first romances and realizes that noisy subways, jam-packed dining rooms and speakers blasting Big Pun rhymes can actually be more serene than birds chirping on the West Coast." -- Raquel Reichard, Latina magazine
You Don't Have To Like Me: Essays on Growing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding Feminism by Alida Nugent
"In this series of entertaining essays, popular blogger and author Nugent (Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse) documents her journey to feminism while skewering misogynist tropes and delivering some painful truths. Using her own experiences to expand on larger issues, Nugent bravely confides the details of her battle with bulimia and society’s ever-shifting idea of the perfect body ... More jovial moments are dedicated to the power of female friendships ('the salted caramel ... of the relationship world'), the bacchanalia of girls’-night-out wine benders, and learning to love her looks with help from an unflattering $15 lipstick." -- Publishers Weekly
A Cup of Water Under My Bed by Daisy Hernández
"[Hernández] examines the warmth and pain she found in her relationships with her family, the varied reactions they had when she came out as bisexual, and the cognitive dissonance she experienced as she became upwardly mobile.

Throughout, she talks about the power of reshaping your experiences through narrative, of taking the past apart and putting it back together in a way that makes sense to you and makes it truly your own." -- Braden Goyette, The Huffington Post
Loose Woman by Sandra Cisneros
"In her second book of poems, Cisneros (My Wicked Wicked Ways) presents a street-smart, fearlessly liberated persona who raves, sometimes haphazardly, always with abandon, about the real thing: 'I am ... / The lust goddess without guilt. / The delicious debauchery. You bring out / the primordial exquisiteness in me.' As if breaking all the rules ('Because someone once / said Don't / do that! / you like to do it'), she delves with urgency into things carnal -- sequins, cigars, black lace bras and menstrual blood." -- Publishers Weekly
How to Be a Chicana Role Model by Michele Serros
"In her second book ... [Serros] refines her wicked humor and observations of being Chicana in the U.S. Billed as a book of fiction, Serros is clearly at the center of the 13 pieces in Role Model, identified by name in many of them. This hybridization of the personal essay and fiction will befuddle some readers. But the casual reader will ignore the labeling, and relish Serros' observations from a perspective steeped in the culture of her Mexican family, while saturated in the popular culture that both invites and alienates. How she traverses these two worlds is often the source of Serros' humor." -- Belinda Acosta, The Austin Chronicle
In The Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
"The butterflies [known in real-life as, Las Mariposas] are four smart and lovely Dominican sisters growing up during Trujillo's despotic regime. While her parents try desperately to cling to their imagined island of security in a swelling sea of fear and intimidation, Minerva Mirabal -- the sharpest and boldest of the daughters, born with a fierce will to fight injustice -- jumps headfirst into the revolutionary tide. Her sisters come upon their courage more gradually, through a passionate, protective love of family or through the sheer impossibility of closing their eyes to the horrors around them. Together, their bravery and determination meld into a seemingly insurmountable force, making Trujillo, for all his power, appear a puny adversary." -- Kirkus Review
Women with Big Eyes by Ángeles Mastretta
"Thirty-nine indomitable aunts are captured in a series of lyrical snapshots in this autobiographically inspired collection, a bestseller in the award-winning author's native Mexico. Mastretta (Lovesick) originally conceived these brief stories as a way of telling her daughter about her long line of powerful female ancestors; the resulting fictional series of portraits delivers charming lessons in life and love." -- Publishers Weekly
Bird of Paradise by Raquel Cepeda
"Bird of Paradise is [Cepeda's] story of redemption, of a her search to understand her identity in a society that told her over and over again that she did not matter ... As a memoir, it is not simply a story of herself, but of Latina women growing up in New York City (and the Dominican Republic) in the 1970s and 1980s. It is a story of migration and stagnation, love and sorrow. It is a story of blackness and whiteness; it is a tale of borderlands and isolation, race and ethnicity, struggle and perseverance." -- Dr. David J. Leanord, The Huffington Post
This Bridge Called My Back by Cherríe Moraga, Gloria Anzaldúa
"When it was published in 1981, This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color was a vermilion ink bloom on the crisp white wedding dress of the U.S. feminist movement. It was meant to be shocking. This anthology of prose and poetry by Black, Latina, Asian, and Native American women was the first to express loudly, clearly, bilingually that the 'sisterhood' could not be colorblind. Women of color are not the same as white women. They experience America differently." -- Nisha Agarwal, The Huffington Post
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
Set in turn-of-the-century Mexico, it tells the romantic tale of Tita De La Garza, the youngest of Mama Elena's three daughters, whose fate, dictated by family tradition, is to remain single so that she can take care of her mother in her old age ... As we witness the nurturing Tita's struggle to be true both to family tradition and to her own heart, we are steeped in elaborate recipes for dishes such as turkey mole with almonds and sesame seeds or quail with rose petals, in medicinal concoctions for ailments such as bad breath and gas, and in instructions on how to make ink or matches." -- Kirkus Reviews
Almost a Woman by Esmeralda Santiago
"Almost a Woman continues Esmeralda's saga as she proves herself bright enough to transfer to New York's Performing Arts High School and discovers how differently others can live. She writes of her blossoming physically, intellectually and artistically using her second language with lyricism and skill. And she writes poignantly of her inevitable loosening of family bonds and her growing independence.Santiago captures the chaos and warmth of barrio living as well as the struggle to both retain elements and move beyond.

She leaves the reader with a greater understanding of immigrant life through her use of detail and humor. These are good books for both the young and the mature woman." -- Judith Helburn, Story Circle Book Reviews

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