The term “Hispanic” encompasses a large group of individuals whose one common theme is the fact that they can speak Spanish. Beyond this commonality, being Hispanic can represent many different things for each individual who belongs to this community. And being a Hispanic in America is a completely different experience.
Whether you were born in America to Hispanic parents or emigrated from your home country to live in America, your Hispanicness becomes more real and tangible once you live in a country where Spanish is no longer its first language and your culture is completely different. Luckily, there are plenty of Hispanic authors who have put this experience down on paper to showcase the reality of being Hispanic in America.
Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From by Jennifer De Leon
Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From touches upon the topic of being a first-generation American Hispanic. At 15 years old, Liliana Cruz has to navigate life as someone who comes from a Hispanic (more specifically Guatemala and El Salvador) background but must now attend a predominantly white school. Faced with racism and the fact that she is a minority in this new high school, Liliana does her best to pass as white and fit in with her classmates and teachers.
However, as she is dealing with the struggles of being a Hispanic teenager in a place where she doesn’t really belong, she has to deal with the reality that her father is gone. Although at first she thinks her father just left them, she soon finds out he has actually been deported. This part of the story showcases the reality of undocumented Hispanics in America.
Living Beyond Borders: Growing Up Mexican in America by Margarita Longoria
A lot of the time, people believe that the term “Hispanic” just refers to Mexicans. Although this is not true, Mexicans are also Hispanics and have had their fair share of experiences living in America. Several authors have used their words to express what it was like to cross the border, to be raised Mexican-American, and to live in a country so close to your home country.
The book Living Beyond Borders: Growing Up Mexican in America is a collection of 20 different pieces of literature work that go from stories and essays to poems that narrate what it is like to be a Mexican American. Most of the authors explore the different challenges they have to face by growing up between two different cultures and how to belong to them or fight against the fear that you don’t belong to either.
The Struggles of Trying to be Mexican American Enough by Jonatan Noriega
For many Hispanics born in America, it is hard to know where you belong and which culture is yours. There is a struggle between balancing your Hispanic self and your American self, especially when you don’t have people you can relate to. That is exactly what is presented in the book The Struggles of Trying to be Mexican American Enough.
The main character, Xavier Barrera, is trying to figure out who he is between two distinct cultures. On the one hand, there are times when he feels too Mexican. On the other hand, there are times when he feels he is not Mexican enough. He gets help from his family and friends to understand better what it is to be Mexican and the kind of hardships his culture faces daily.
My Broken Language: A Memoir by Quiara Alegría Hudes
My Broken Language: A Memoir tells the story of Quiara Alegría Hudes, who was born in Philadelphia to a Puerto Rican mother and a Jewish father. Growing up, Hudes was surrounded by unspoken and untold family secrets of the barrio. She was always surrounded by powerful, joyful, and sensual women who left her wanting to tell their stories.
However, as she sets on the journey to tell these stories, she realizes she needs to find a new language that can reflect the dichotomies she’s always been surrounded by. Hudes has always been stuck between a written and a spoken language, between English and Spanish, between what’s sacred and what’s profane. And she must rely on those things to share the memories of her family and the reality of growing up Puerto Rican in America.
Solito: A Memoir by Javier Zamora
For many Hispanics in America, the reality is that they arrived in the US after having crossed the Mexican border — a journey that is never easy. Solito: A Memoir tells the story of Javier Zamora when he was nine years old. Zamora made the trip from El Salvador to Guatemala and then through Mexico to make it to America.
His story narrates the two-month-long trip with strangers and a coyote who had the goal of getting them through the border. Although Zamora believed it would be an easy trip that would soon reunite him with his mother, he has to face boat trips, desert treks, pointed guns and arrests. In the end, however, those strangers soon become his family.
Dominicana: A Novel by Angie Cruz
Many Hispanics grow up in their home countries dreaming of a life in America, and that is exactly what 15-year-old Ana was doing in the Dominican Republic in Dominicana: A Novel. However, she is presented with the opportunity to move to America by marrying a man twice her age. By entering this marriage and moving to New York City, Ana dreams of one day bringing her family with her to experience American life. However, her husband seems to have different plans and Ana cannot leave her apartment in Washington Heights.
As she tries to escape, her husband’s brother, Cesar, convinces her to stay and soon she ends up experiencing a different kind of life. Her husband must return to the Dominican Republic to take care of his family’s assets and by staying with his brother Ana is able to start truly living life in America. But upon her husband’s return, she must decide what to do next.