Mexican-American literature takes on a different voice than other literary genres. Through the Latina author’s points of view, many readers have developed a different view on revolutionary topics, feminism, and what it means to be a Latina. The following five books were written by Chicana feminists, who paved the way and influence many Latina authors, and are highly recommended to read!
1. In the Time Of The Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
In the Time of the Butterflies is based on a true story about the woes the Dominican Republic faced during the time of the unjust rule of dictator Rafael Trujillo (ruled 1930-1938; 1942-1961). It is a work of fiction that captures the story of 4 young sisters and their journey to free the Dominical Republic and spearhead the revolution. This group of women is willing to put their lives on the line for a better cause. This is a great read that shows what it means to be a Latina feminist and how stand up for a cause despite being a woman; Alvarez explores the idea of what it means to be a martyr.
2) What Night Brings by Carla Trujillo
What Night Brings tells the story of an 11-year-old girl living with her family in California during the 1960′s, What Night Brings is a book about a young girl and her battle against her family (particularly her father) and her religion as she struggles to find her identity and her own sense of freedom. Told by the protagonist, this novel shows the life of a young Chicana living in a household of domestic abuse and her struggle to find her freedom despite living with an abusive father and a mother who lives for her husband. The content for this book may be mature for younger readers, but
3) The House On Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
The House On Mango Street is a narrative of short stories told by tween Esperanza Cordero, a young girl living in the barrio of Chicago. As a shy teen with a love of reading and writing, Esperanza is raised in a traditional, male-dominated society. Described by many as “a voice for the voiceless,” it teaches its readers about some of the struggles facing Chicanas today (identity, gender roles, sexuality, and physical appearance, to name a few). Through Esperanza’s point of view, the stories focus on Esperanza’s life and the women she meets as she struggles to find a role model.
Set in the 1930′s to the 1980′s, Garcia’s Dreaming In Cuban is the story of three generations of women,Celia (grandmother), Lourdes (daughter) and Pilar (granddaughter). The women communicate telephonically, which is a known talent of women in their family, and share the obstacles they face with one another. Celia lives in Cuba during a tough time, while Pilar, having moved to the U.S. from Cuba at two years old, struggles with her cultural identity due to her Cuban roots and her Americanized lifestyle and interests. This is one of Pilar’s main struggles, as well as her less-than-cordial relationship with her mother. By communicating with Celia, Pilar receives help. Dreaming in Cubcan is a great novel that shows the identity struggles Cuban-American and Cuban women face everyday, while also telling the tale of a family struggling to communicate and be located in different sides of the globe. A novel that discusses family, identity is surely a must-read.
So Far from God is a novel with the perfect balance of comedy and tragedy. Reviewed positively by authors like Sandra Cisneros and Gloria Anzaldua as true to the experience of being Chicana, So Far From God is a humorous tragedy about family, love and hardships a mother faces in light of her husband Domingo’s disappearance in a town that believes in the supernatural. This novel is about Sofi and the struggles she faces. The book is definitely a page-turner, as it shows the sad but strengthening Chicana experience of one woman and her four daughters.