Latino Studies

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 230–249 | Cite as

En(countering) YA: Young Lords, shadowshapers, and the longings and possibilities of Latinx young adult literature

  • Marilisa Jiménez GarcíaEmail author
Original Article


Recent Latinx young adult literature (YA) serves as a window into how authors narrate the promises and failures of cultural nationalism of past generations and how they imagine youth participating in revolutionary practices today, including accessing alternative forms of literature and education beyond established academia. This article places YA in its context as a US tradition in which authors have expressed particular notions about the adolescent as a subject in relation to social, state, and family structures. For example, Latinx YA, as an alternative to standard Anglo stories, which founded the medium in the United States, presents adult–child relationships as a kind of intergenerational activist legacy. Employing Richard Delgado‘s concept of counter-storytelling, and drawing on Ramón Saldívar‘s ideas about historical fantasy, this essay analyzes current Latinx literature for youth, centralizing the work of Sonia Manzano in historical fiction and Daniel José Older in urban fantasy.


Young adult literature Latinx literature Ethnic studies The Young Lords Party Sonia Manzano Daniel José Older Cultural nationalism Puerto Rico Counter-storytelling 



The author wishes to thank William Orchard, Natalie Havlin, Kelly Krietz and Sonia Alejandra Rodriguez of the Colloquium for the Study of Latino/a Culture and Theory at The Graduate Center, City University of New York, for their helpful comments during revision.


  1. Adichie, C. 2009. The Danger of a Single Story. TED Talk. TED Global. Accessed July 2009.
  2. Agosín, M. 2014. I Lived on Butterfly Hill. New York: Atheneum.Google Scholar
  3. Alexander, J., and K. Kidd. 2017. What Feeds the Imagination: Jonathan Alexander Interviews Kenneth Kidd. LA Review of Books. Accessed 6 April 2017.
  4. Alvarez, J. 2002. Before We Were Free. New York: Puffin.Google Scholar
  5. Alvarez, J. 2004. We Need to Understand. Children and Libraries: The Journal of the ALSC 2 (2): 13–14.Google Scholar
  6. Brady, M. 2013. Children’s Literature. In The Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature, ed. S. Bost, and F. Aparicio, 375–382. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Collins, S. 2008. The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic.Google Scholar
  8. Cordova, Z. 2016. Labyrinth Lost. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks.Google Scholar
  9. Daly, M. 1942. Seventeenth Summer. New York: Simon.Google Scholar
  10. Delgado, R. 1989. Storytelling for Oppositionists and Others: A Plea for Narrative. Michigan Law Review 87 (8): 2411–2441.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Engle, M. 2008. The Surrender Tree. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  12. González, Ann. 2009. Resistance and Survival: Children’s Narrative from Central America and the Caribbean. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.Google Scholar
  13. Harris, V. 1990. African American Children’s Literature: The First One Hundred Years. Journal of Negro Education 59 (4): 540–555.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Harris, V. (ed.). 1992. Teaching Multicultural in Grades K-8. Norwood, MA: Christopher Gordon.Google Scholar
  15. Hinton, S.E. 1967. The Outsiders. New York: Viking Press.Google Scholar
  16. hooks, b. 1994. Teaching to Transgress. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  17. Hughes-Hassell, S. 2013. Multicultural Young Adult Literature as a Form of Storytelling. Library Quarterly 83 (3): 212–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Jiménez Garcia, M. 2014. Pura Belpré Lights the Storyteller’s Candle: Reframing the Legacy of a Legend and What It Means for Children’s Literature and Latino/a Studies. Centro 26 (1): 110–147.Google Scholar
  19. Jiménez Garcia, M. 2017. Side-by-Side: At the Intersections of Latinx Studies and ChYALit. Lion and the Unicorn 41 (1): 122–133.Google Scholar
  20. Kidd, K. 2005. A Is for Auschwitz: Psychoanalysis, Trauma Theory and the Children’s Literature of Atrocity. Children’s Literature 33 (1): 120–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Manzano, S. 2012. The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano. New York: Scholastic.Google Scholar
  22. Matos, A. 2017. The Undercover Life of Young Adult Novels. ALAN Review (Winter): 85–91.Google Scholar
  23. Medina, M. 2016. Burn Baby Burn. New York: Candlewick.Google Scholar
  24. Mickenberg, J. 2006. Learning from the Left: Children’s Literature, the Cold War, and Radical Politics. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Millán, I. 2015. Contested Children’s Literature: (Qu)eries into Chicana and Central American Autofantasia. Signs 41 (1): 199–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Miranda, L., A. Lacarmoire, and R. Chernow. 2015. Hamilton: An American Musical. Warner/Chape: Musical Recording. Los Angeles.Google Scholar
  27. Nieto, S. 1992. We Have Stories to Tell: A Case Study of Puerto Ricans in Children’s Books. In Teaching Multicultural Literature in Grades K–8, ed. V.J. Harris. Norwood, MA: Christopher-Gordon.Google Scholar
  28. Nieto, S. 1995. A History of the Education of Puerto Rican Students in U.S. Mainland Schools: “Losers,” “Outsiders,” or “Leaders.” In Handbook on Multicultural Education., ed. James A. Banks and Cherry McGee Banks, 388–411. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  29. Nieto, S. 2000. Puerto Rican Students in U.S. Schools. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  30. NYC DOE (New York City Department of Education), Office of Curriculum, Instruction, and Professional Learning. 2015. Introducing Literature Circles Titles through Book Talks: Grades 9–12.
  31. NYPL (New York Public Library). 2015. The Rise of Latino Literature for Youth. Children’s Literary Salon Panel. Schwartzman Building.
  32. Older, D.J. 2015. Shadowshaper. New York: Scholastic.Google Scholar
  33. Pérez, A.H. 2015. Out of Darkness. Minneapolis, MN: Carolrhoda Lab.Google Scholar
  34. Pietri, P. 1973. Puerto Rican Obituary. Virtual Boricua.
  35. Reese, D. 2016. We Are Still Here: An Interview with Debbie Reese. English Journal 106 (1): 51–54.Google Scholar
  36. Rowling, J.K. 1997–2009. Harry Potter series. New York: Scholastic.Google Scholar
  37. Saldivar, R. 2011. Historical Fantasy, Speculative Realism, and Postrace Aesthetics in Contemporary American Fiction. American Literary History 23 (3): 574–599.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Schwebel, S. 2014. Reading 9/11 from the American Revolution to U.S. Annexation of the Moon: M. T. Anderson’s Feed and Octavian Nothing. Children’s Literature 42 (1): 197–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Shabazz, I., and K. Magoon. 2015. X: A Novel. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.Google Scholar
  40. Sims-Bishop, R. 1990. Mirrors, Windows and Sliding Glass Doors. Perspectives 6 (3): ix–xi.Google Scholar
  41. Tonatiuh, D. 2015. Separate is Never Equal. New York: Abrams Books.Google Scholar
  42. Tribunella, E. 2010. Melancholia and Maturation: The Use of Trauma in American Children’s Literature. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press.Google Scholar
  43. Trites, R.S. 2000. Disturbing the Universe: Power and Repression in Adolescent Literature. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press.Google Scholar
  44. Ulanowicz, A. 2011. American Adam and American Cain: Johnny Tremain, Octavian Nothing, and the Fantasy of American Exceptionalism. Lion and the Unicorn 35 (3): 267–295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Ulanowicz, A. 2013. Second-Generation Memory and Contemporary Children’s Literature: Ghost Images. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  46. Wanzer-Serrano, D. 2015. The Young Lords and the Struggle for Liberation. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Williams-Garcia, R. 2010. One Crazy Summer. New York: Harper Collins.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lehigh UniversityBethlehemUSA

Personalised recommendations