Celebrating Women’s History Month

Amplify Your Library with Women Centric Writings


Chola Salvation

by Estella Gonzalez

Estella Gonzalez
Photo credit Kathleen Dreier

In the title story of this collection, Isabela is minding her family’s restaurant, drinking her dad’s beer, when Frida Kahlo and the Virgen de Guadalupe walk in. Even though they’re dressed like cholas, the girl immediately recognizes

Frida’s uni-brow and La Virgen’s crown. They want to give her advice about the quinceañera her parents are forcing on her. In fact, their lecture (don’t get pregnant, go to school, be proud of your indigenous roots) helps Isabela to escape her parents’ physical and sexual abuse. But can she really run away from the self-hatred they’ve created?

These inter-related stories, mostly set in East Los Angeles, uncover the lives of a conflicted Mexican-American community. In “Sábado Gigante,” Bernardo drinks himself into a stupor every Saturday night. “Aquí no es mi tierra,” he cries, as he tries to ease the sorrow of a life lived far from home. Meanwhile, his son Gustavo struggles with his emerging gay identity and Maritza, the oldest daughter, is expected to cook and clean for her brother, even though they live in East LA, not Guadalajara or Chihuahua. In “Powder Puff,” Mireya spends hours every day applying her make-up, making sure to rub the foundation all the way down her neck so it looks like her natural color. But no matter how much she rubs and rubs, her skin is no lighter.

Estella Gonzalez vividly captures her native East LA in these affecting stories about a marginalized people dealing with racism, machismo and poverty. In painful and sometimes humorous scenes, young people try to escape the traditional expectations of their family. Other characters struggle with anger and resentment, often finding innovative ways to exact revenge for slights both real and imagined.  Throughout, music—traditional and contemporary—accompanies them in the search for love and acceptance.

Chances in Disguise

by Diana J. Noble

Diana J. Noble

In this sequel to Evangelina Takes Flight, the young girl who left her home during the Mexican Revolution to start over in a small Texas border town is now seventeen. She has had several years of medical training with her mentor, Doc Taylor, but when a doctor from a neighboring town finds her helping an Anglo woman in labor, he is enraged. He calls her a dirty Mexican and kicks her out. The next day, Evangelina is arrested for murder.

The racist sheriff and many of the townspeople believe Mexicans are inferior and that Evangelina must be guilty of using witchcraft to kill the pregnant woman. But she isn’t all alone. Doc Taylor believes in her innocence, as does Cora Cavanaugh, the spirited daughter of a wealthy businessman. And there’s Selim Njaim, a young Muslim with whom she has a forbidden relationship. Soon La Liga Protectora Mexicana assigns someone to represent her, but will Joaquín Castañeda be able to convince the jury that Evangelina is not a murderer?

Set in Texas in 1915, this eye-opening historical novel for young adults reveals the racial inequity in the justice system, the discrimination experienced by Mexicans and other non-whites and the limitations placed on women. Teens will relate to the theme of finding confidence and bravery in times of uncertainty, while learning about the harassment, torture and killing of innocent Mexicans and Tejanos in the early part of the twentieth century.

Reservations Required

by Estela Bernal

Estela Bernal

Seventeen-year-old Lucy Sánchez’s world is turned upside down when her grandmother dies. Nana was instrumental in teaching her how to cook and encouraging her dream to become a chef. More importantly, her kitchen was a safe haven from the dysfunction at home.

When Lucy becomes the target of her father’s physical abuse, she is forced to escape sooner than she’d planned. “I’m going to be a chef,” she keeps telling herself while on a bus headed to Los Angeles. Her life changes forever, though, when she sees a help-wanted sign in a restaurant window and impulsively gets off the bus in a small Arizona town.

Lucy is thrilled to get the job, even though she’ll start as a dishwasher, working for room and board. When the owners of La Cocina discover her cooking skills, they promote her to assistant chef. Before long, word about her culinary talents begins to spread. But conflict with a jealous waitress and her sleazy boyfriend escalates as they harasses Lucy at every opportunity. Is it too much to ask to cook, take classes at the local community college and get to know the cute guy she met there?

Josefina’s Habichuelas/ Las habichuelas de Josefina

by Jasminne Mendez
Illustrations by Flor de Vita
Spanish translation by Adnaloy Espinosa

The 2021 winner of the Salinas De Alba Award

Jasminne Mendez

Like all kids, Josefina loves to eat sweets. She loves warm chocolate chip cookies right out of the oven, cupcakes and candy! One night, while eating a piece of flan, Mami asks her to consider giving up sweets for Lent, the 40 days leading up to Easter. “That’s impossible!” Josefina says. When Mami promises to teach her how to make her favorite dessert, habichuelas con dulce, she agrees to give it a try.

Josefina can’t wait to end her fast and eat the delicious sweet cream beans, her family’s traditional Easter dessert. While she and her mom, tías and abuela prepare the dish, they dance to merengue music and tell stories about life back in the Dominican Republic. The kitchen fills with the aromatic smells of cinnamon and sugar, but it’s the feelings of love and happiness Josefina will never forget. On Easter Sunday, when the family eats the special dessert she prepared, the girl’s grandmother proclaims, “It’s the best pot of habichuelas con dulce I’ve tasted in my life!”

This heart-warming, bilingual picture book for children shares a universal story all kids can relate to—learning about one’s culture through food, music and family stories—while focusing on a cultural tradition specific to the Dominican Republic. As a bonus, the book includes the recipe for this special dessert—in both English and Spanish!

Broken Butterfly Wings / Alas de mariposa rotas

by Raquel M. Ortiz

Illustrations by Carrie Salazar

Raquel M. Ortiz

Gabriela is super excited when her gift from Titi Sylvia finally arrives. She loves the colorful, glittery butterfly wings! She stands in the middle of her room and flaps and flaps her new wings, but nothing happens. She jumps off her bed, vigorously moving the wings up and down, but again, nada. She hops down the hallway and the stairs, but she still can’t fly!

Disappointed, Gabriela goes to the garage, digs into her father’s toolbox and sets about trying to fix the broken butterfly wings. Maybe she can add a battery or an engine. Her father has a better idea, though, and encourages her to close her eyes and think about where she would like to fly. Soon she is envisioning El Yunque, a rainforest on the island of Puerto Rico that is full of tall green trees, humming waterfalls and chattering birds. She can even hear the coquí, a tiny tree frog that lives only on the island, singing its special song: coquí-coquí.

Demonstrating the joy found in using one’s imagination, this bilingual picture book depicts a young girl drawing on her senses—smell, hearing, sight—to return to a beloved place. Kids will appreciate the beauty of the rainforest’s birds, frogs and other natural wonders while admiring a strong girl willing to create solutions to problems.

“El feminismo no es nuevo”: Las crónicas de Clotilde Betances Jaeger

by Clotilde Betances Jaeger

 Edited by María Teresa Vera-Rojas 

María Teresa Vera-Rojas

“Every woman who gets accustomed to the yoke of marriage remains a slave,” Clotilde Betances Jaeger wrote in an article published in 1929. This revolutionary idea, which scandalized society at the time of its publication, reflects her passionate ideas in this collection of essays and articles that shines a light on the women’s movement in the first half of the twentieth century in New York’s Hispanic community. 

Clotilde Betances Jaeger was a Puerto Rican feminist, writer and intellectual who, in addition to championing women’s rights, advocated for racial equality, education rights and Puerto Rican independence. She questioned the role of the church, reflected on marriage and highlighted women’s roles in education, the economy and politics. Her writing was a call to arms, encouraging women to fight for their emancipation: “Woman, mother, wife, daughter, alone you have no impact. But join the other women that suffer the same trials and you will see how your efforts multiply, you will see how you crush your enemies.”  

Edited by scholar María Teresa Vera-Rojas, this volume contains Betances Jaeger’s pieces that appeared between 1920 and 1940 in Spanish-language publications in New York, including GráficoArtes y Letras and La Prensa. It also includes some articles printed in Puerto Rico and the Spanish anarchist press.  This is a fundamental text that brings to light the historic role of Latinas in the fight for equal rights, and Betances Jaeger’s writing remains as important today as when first published.


by Anna Garcia Schaper

Anna Garcia Schaper.   

Pilar’s mother has been extra vigilant about her fifteen-year-old daughter’s diet after she came home from school in tears. The truth is, Pilar wouldn’t mind losing some weight. She dreams of becoming an actor and wants to try out for the school production of “Our Town,” but she’s reminded constantly that she’s too ugly, too fat, too Mexican. 

With the encouragement of some new friends and her feisty grandmother who thinks she’s perfect just the way she is, Pilar works up the nerve to try out for the play—in spite of continued harassment by Becca Barlowe and her posse. But when a handsome high school jock plays a mean trick on her that becomes a social media sensation, Pilar once again finds herself using food to anesthetize her pain.   

This appealing novel for mature teens juxtaposes Pilar’s story with her grandmother’s when she was married to a male chauvinist years earlier in Laredo, Texas. Both women must struggle to find their own voice in a world where others insist on defining them as “less than.”  Capturing the heartache of seeking—and accepting—one’s true self, Anna Garcia Schaper movingly explores the strength of family bonds and their importance in overcoming difficult and sometimes tragic circumstances.  

Cecilia’s Magical Mission

by Viola Canales

Viola Canales

Everyone in fourteen-year-old Cecilia’s Mexican-American community has a don—a special gift or talent. Her father, who’s named after St. Anthony, helps people find things, or parts of themselves, that they’ve lost. Paco, the janitor in the building where she lives, can tell fortunes. Cecilia can’t figure out hers, and she really needs to since her confirmation is coming up.   

The truth is, Cecilia doesn’t really believe people have celestial gifts. Her opinion begins to change when she gets apprenticed to Doña Faustina, who has a magic way with coffee. Soon Cecilia realizes that her apprenticeship involves something more sinister than a mystical brew! And on a trip back to the special Mexican village of Santa Cecilia, she and her friends Julie and Lebna learn something about friendship, community and the powers of good and evil. 

Award-winning author Viola Canales returns with an appealing novel for teens that highlights a Mexican-American immigrant community and the conflict first-generation young adults experience caught between contemporary American life and their parents’ traditional ways. 

The Moths and Other Stories / Las palomillas de la noche y otros relatos

by Helena María Viramontes

Helena Maria Viramontes

The adolescent protagonist of the title story, like other girls in this pioneering collection, rebels against her father, refusing to go to Mass. Instead, dressed in her black Easter shoes and carrying her missal and veil, she goes to her abuelita’s house. Her grandmother has always accepted her for who she is and has provided a safe refuge from the anger and violence at home.

The eight haunting stories included in this collection explore the social, economic and cultural impositions that shape women’s lives. Girls on the threshold of puberty rebel against their fathers, struggle to understand their sexuality and, in two stories, deal with the ramifications of pregnancy. Other women struggle against the limitations of marriage and the Catholic religion, which seek to keep them subservient to the men in their lives. Prejudice and the social and economic status of Chicanos often form the backdrop as women fight—with varying degrees of success—to break free from oppression.

Shedding light on the complex lives and experiences of Mexican-American girls and women, this bilingual edition containing the first-ever Spanish translation of Viramontes’ debut collection, The Moths and Other Stories, will make this landmark work available to a wider audience.

El baile de octavo y otros recuerdos /  The Eighth Grade Dance and Other Memories 

by Ada De Jesús

Ada De Jesús, Photo by Carlos Alvarado Photography

Eleven-year-old Ada De Jesús was on the cusp of her teens when she moved to the United States from Puerto Rico. Hurricane Hugo had just decimated the island and her father couldn’t find a job.

In Chicago, the white dress she arrived in didn’t protect her from the snow and frigid temperatures! Constantly exposed to new things, she developed a resilience that served her well.  “From one place to another, like riding a bike, if you keep pedaling, you won’t fall.”

Ada discovered that students in the United States were frequently disrespectful to their teachers. At school she often felt like a two-year-old as she grappled with a completely new language. In addition to navigating a different culture, she had to deal with all the issues familiar to teenage girls: the growth of body hair, pimples, menstruation and of course boys! Her memories of first intimate encounters, fending off unwanted advances and fear of pregnancy will strike a chord with readers.

In these short vignettes recollecting her middle-school years, Ada De Jesús shares her poignant and often funny experiences as a newcomer and an adolescent. Young readers will relate to—and laugh at—her experiences; some may take heart that they too will overcome the difficulties common at this age.

Secrets of the Casa Rosada

by Alex Temblador

Alex Temblador

Sixteen-year-old Martha and her mother move constantly, never staying anywhere for long. So she knows better than to ask if they’ve been evicted again when her mom says they’re going on a “vacation” to Laredo, Texas, to meet the grandmother Martha didn’t know existed. At her Abuela’s pink house, Martha’s shocked and hurt when her mom abandons her, even though a part of her had been expecting it.

Suddenly, Martha must deal with a lifestyle that is completely foreign. And it turns out that her grandmother is revered as a healer, or curandera. Meanwhile, at Martha’s new school, she can’t be anonymous because everyone knows she’s Doña González’s granddaughter, and a girl named Marcella has it out for her. As Martha struggles to adjust to her new life, she can’t help but wonder why her mother left Laredo. No one is willing to discuss it, so she’ll have to unravel the secrets herself.

The Curse of the Gypsy: Ten Stories and a Novella

by Alicia Gaspar De Alba

Alicia Gaspar de Alba

In the first story of this absorbing collection, Margarita—sixteen and married to a soldier who has gone off to fight in the first great war—meets and falls in love with Federico García Lorca. When he refuses to marry the widowed gypsy girl after a tryst at the river leaves her pregnant, her mother curses both Lorca and his offspring: “May they all die before they see the light of day.” And so Lorca is killed by fascists and his child dies in Margarita’s womb, where it remains—petrified—for 80 years.

Mysteries and furtive desires pervade the enthralling stories in this group of ten the author calls a “deconstructed novel.” Expertly weaving poetry, historical events, myth and legend into intriguing short fiction, Alicia Gaspar de Alba confirms her place as one of the leading contemporary Latinx voices.

Evangelina Takes Flight

by Diana J. Noble

Diana J. Noble

It’s the summer of 1911 in northern Mexico, and soon the de León family learns that the rumors of soldiers in the region are true.
Evangelina’s father decides they must leave their home to avoid the violence. The trip north to a small town on the U.S. side of the border is filled with fear and anxiety as they worry about loved ones left behind and the uncertain future ahead.

Life in Texas is confusing, though the signs in shop windows that say “No Mexicans” and some people’s reactions to them are all-too clear. Why can’t people understand that—even though she’s only starting to learn English—she’s just like them? This moving historical novel introduces teens to the tumultuous times of the Mexican Revolution and the experiences of immigrants, especially Mexican Americans, as they adjust to a new way of life.

Outside the Bones

by Lyn Di Iorio

Lyn Di Lorio

Fina is a big girl with a big mouth. She’s the neighborhood bruja, or “spirit worker” as she likes to call herself, casting spells for her neighbors in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. She can’t believe it, though, when she puts an accidental fufú—or spell—on Chico, the irresistible trumpet-player who lives upstairs.

Weaving Afro-Caribbean witchcraft rituals with the sixteen-year-old mystery of a woman’s disappearance, Outside the Bones is an erotically charged ghost story set in both present-day New York and Puerto Rico.  Following in the tradition of Anne Rice, Lyn Di Iorio’s brilliant debut novel takes a mesmerizing look at issues of race, class, power and greed.


by Nicholasa Mohr


Nicholasa Mohr Photo credit William Alatriste

“Damn you bastards, coming here making trouble. Bunch of animals.” The two police offers responding to a call about an open fire hydrant lash out furiously at the Puerto Rican residents of New York City’s El Barrio neighborhood. It’s the summer of 1941, and all ten-year-old Nilda wants to do is enjoy the cool water with her friends. But the policemen’s curses end their fun, and their animosity is played out over and over again in Nilda’s life. She is repeatedly treated with contempt and even disgust by adults in positions of authority: teachers, nurses and social workers.

Named an “Outstanding Book of the Year” by The New York Times and one of the “Best Books of the Year” by the American Library Association in 1973 when it was first published, Nicholasa Mohr’s classic novel about life as an immigrant in New York City offers a poignant look at one young girl’s experiences. Issues of race, religion and machismo are realistically and movingly depicted in this groundbreaking coming-of-age novel that was one of the first by a Latina author to be hailed by the mainstream media.

Song of the Hummingbird 

by Graciela Limón

Graciela Limón

From Aztec princess to slave and concubine, Hummingbird – or Huitzitzilín in her native Nahuatl – recounts her life during the Spanish conquest of Mexico. She experienced first-hand the wonder of gods’ arrival—those bearded, armored men who descended from their vessels on horseback—and the brutal devastation of her land and her people. She witnessed the obliteration of Tenochtitlán and suffered the loss of her identity, being forced to discard her traditional garb, to speak a language foreign to her tongue, and to forsake her ancestral gods.

In Song of the Hummingbird, Limón pays homage to the pre-Columbian woman, celebrates the endurance of the human spirit in the face of cataclysm and mourns our collective loss of treasures more valuable than all the plundered gold.

To the Last Man I Slept With and All the Jerks Just Like Him

by Gwendolyn Zepeda

To the Last Man

Gwendolyn Zepeda, Photo by – Dat V. Lam

With dark, knife-in-the ribs humor and poignant glimpses of youth and early adulthood, Gwendolyn Zepeda’s first book is the literati’s version of television variety shows of the 1970s. Chock full of sharp observations in a narrative that jumps from personal essay to a parody of romance novels to inventive fiction, this collection spans a wide range of themes: the complications of being a “half-white child of hippies born in Houston in 1971″ and raised in a largely Mexican barrio . . . “How to Be a Trailer Trash Housewife” . . . and a midnight dance with a giant cockroach.

Weaving her exploration of family life, love, the struggle for economic stability, and the search for a personal creative space, Zepeda’s brash voice cuts at society’s stereotypes, at once critiquing those around her and herself. Not for the shy or the meek, Zepeda’s bold ruminations ring clearly through all her pieces, whether tough dramatizations or tongue-in-cheek fiction.

African Passions and Other Stories 

by Beatriz Rivera

Beatriz Rivera

African Passions, Beatriz Rivera’s first collection of stories, is peopled by Hispanic women in the thrall of love of varying sorts, but always of overwhelming intensity. Passion, obsession, raucous humor, and satire are in store for the reader of this tour-de-force examination of Latina womanhood.

A series of strong-minded women relentlessly pursue love and success as they move in and out of the reality of the New Jersey Hispanic barrio that bonds them: a frustrated professional woman who unsuccessfully strives for a wedding ring from her mama’s-boy lover, a recent college graduate applies for dead-end jobs while pursuing a traditional macho lover, an Italian-Puerto Rican princess gets caught up in a vicious cycle of destructive relationships, and a young Cuban matron wrecks husband, children, and her own well-being as she seeks the nirvana of material wealth and status.

Eulogy for a Brown Angel / Loa a un ángel de piel morena: Serie detectivesca “Gloria Damasco” 

by Lucha Corpi

Lucha Corpi

A Chicano Civil Rights March has been disrupted by the Los Angeles police, resulting in the gruesome death of a prominent reporter. The tear gas has barely settled when a small, defiled body is left on a street in Los Angeles. A feisty political activist finds the murdered child and begins an investigation that will lead her on a trail of international conspiracy and bloody vengeance. Before long, two other people are dead, and dynamic detective Gloria Damasco is determined to piece the mystery together, no matter how long the search may last.

Eulogy for a Brown Angel is a fast-paced and suspenseful novel, packed with an assortment of interesting characters. A member of the international writers’ circle Sisters in Crime, Lucha Corpi brings the intrigue to a hard-hitting conclusion in the picturesque Wine Country of Northern California.