We are excited to announce the featured books for this fall’s Vamos a Leer Book Group!
We’re continuing the practice of alternating young adult and adult titles this fall, thanks to input from our wonderful readers who’ve participated in book group over the past year. What doesn’t change is our focus: all of our books still consider Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Latinx experience in the United States.
The featured titles offer a balanced mix of protagonists, country focus, and reading levels. We’ll continue to create an Educator’s Guide for each young adult book, so be sure to check out our Educator’s Guide tab to access the accompanying guides. We’ve already created 37 guides over the past four years, so if you’re new to our blog, definitely check out our list of available teaching materials.
Given some scheduling issues, we’re changing from the first Monday to the second Monday of each month, but still holding to 5:00-7:00 p.m. All our meetings will take place at Tractor Brewing on 4th St. Feel free to drop in for any of them. We’ll be in the conference room, where we can spread out and laugh or grimace to our heart’s content — and enjoy a pint! If you haven’t had time to read the book, but are still interested in the discussion, you’re welcome to join us. Don’t forget–we’ll be raffling a copy of the next month’s featured novel at each monthly book group, so there’s extra incentive to come!
See below for full details or check out our printable version of the calendar for reference. Feel free to share it with anyone who may be interested. We can’t wait to get started on September 12th and look forward to hearing your thoughts! Happy reading!!
September 12th | Silver People: Voices from the Panama Canal by Margarita Engle | Ages 12 and up | Panama
One hundred years ago, the world celebrated the opening of the Panama Canal, which connected the world’s two largest oceans and signaled America’s emergence as a global superpower. It was a miracle, this path of water where a mountain had stood—and creating a miracle is no easy thing. Thousands lost their lives, and those who survived worked under the harshest conditions for only a few silver coins a day.
From the young “silver people” whose back-breaking labor built the Canal to the denizens of the endangered rainforest itself, this is the story of one of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken, as only Newbery Honor-winning author Margarita Engle could tell it.
October 10th | Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez | High School/Adult | United States
“This is East Texas, and there’s lines. Lines you cross, lines you don’t cross. That clear?” New London, Texas. 1937. Naomi Vargas and Wash Fuller know about the lines in East Texas as well as anyone. They know the signs that mark them. They know the people who enforce them. But sometimes the attraction between two people is so powerful it breaks through even the most entrenched color lines. And the consequences can be explosive.
Ashley Hope Pérez takes the facts of the 1937 New London school explosion–the worst school disaster in American history–as a backdrop for a riveting novel about segregation, love, family, and the forces that destroy people.
November 14th | The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez | Adult | United States and Pan-American
Arturo Rivera was the owner of a construction company in Pátzcuaro, México. One day, as his beautiful fifteen-year-old daughter, Maribel, is helping him at a work site, she sustains an injury that casts doubt on whether she’ll ever be the same again. And so, leaving all they have behind, the Riveras come to America with a single dream: that in this country of great opportunity and resources, Maribel can get better.
When Mayor Toro, whose family is from Panamà, sees Maribel in a Dollar Tree store, it is love at first sight. It’s also the beginning of a friendship between the Rivera and Toro families, whose web of guilt and love and responsibility is at this novel’s core.
Woven into their stories are the testimonials of men and women who have come to the United States from all over Central and Latin America. Their journeys and their voices will inspire you, surprise you, and break your heart.
Suspenseful, funny and warm, rich in spirit and humanity, The Book of Unknown Americans is a new American classic.
December 12th | The Farming of Bones by Edwidge Danticat | High School/Adult | Haiti and Dominican Republic
It is 1937 and Amabelle Désir, a young Haitian woman living in the Dominican Republic, has built herself a life as the servant and companion of the wife of a wealthy colonel. She and Sebastien, a cane worker, are deeply in love and plan to marry. But Amabelle’s world collapses when a wave of genocidal violence, driven by Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo, leads to the slaughter of Haitian workers. Amabelle and Sebastien are separated, and she desperately flees the tide of violence for a Haiti she barely remembers.
Already acknowledged as a classic, this harrowing story of love and survival—from one of the most important voices of her generation—is an unforgettable memorial to the victims of the Parsley Massacre and a testimony to the power of human memory.