100 books like We Are Not from Here

By Jenny Torres Sanchez,

Here are 100 books that We Are Not from Here fans have personally recommended if you like We Are Not from Here. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Poet X

Alexandra V. Méndez Author Of What the Jaguar Told Her

From my list on the power of stories and finding your voice.

Why am I passionate about this?

Stories and the myriad ways they’re told fascinate me. Growing up in Atlanta with Mexican and American heritage, I first learned about Mexican códices—centuries-old books that tell stories through images—on a trip to visit family in Mexico. Later, I studied the history and literature of Latin America at Harvard and got a Ph.D. in Latin American and Iberian Cultures and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. I’ve studied storytelling in many forms, from Mesoamerican maps to early Spanish chronicles of exploration and invasion, to modern Latin American novels. The books listed here celebrate oral storytelling, written traditions, and artistic expression, and they take seriously the perspectives of young people.

Alexandra's book list on the power of stories and finding your voice

Alexandra V. Méndez Why did Alexandra love this book?

In this novel in verse, Elizabeth Acevedo beautifully evokes the landscape and feel of Harlem through the observant character of Xiomara Batista.

Having lived in upper Manhattan for years, I recognized the neighborhood in the vibrant descriptions. I identified with Xiomara’s need to express herself, how she fills the pages of her notebook with what she feels she can’t speak aloud. Her emotions as she confronts the challenges of friendship, romance, and family feel very real.

When a high school teacher opens up for her the world of spoken word poetry and a whole new set of possibilities for self-expression, I find myself rooting for Xiomara to be brave and take the steps she must take on her personal and artistic journey towards sharing her voice.

By Elizabeth Acevedo,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Poet X as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE THE CILIP CARNEGIE MEDAL 2019
SHORTLISTED FOR THE WATERSTONES CHILDREN'S BOOK PRIZE 2019
THE WINNER OF THE 2018 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD
THE WINNER OF THE MICHAEL L.PRINTZ AWARD
THE WINNER OF THE PURA BELPRE AWARD
THE WINNER OF THE BOSTON GLOBE-HORNBOOK AWARD

'I fell in love at slam poetry. This one will stay with you a long time.' - Angie Thomas, bestselling author of The Hate U Give

'This was the type of book where "I'll just do 50 pages" turned into finishing it in 2 reads. I felt very emotional, not just because the story and…


Book cover of The House on Mango Street

Namrata Poddar Author Of Border Less

From my list on debuts that subvert the mainstream Westerns.

Why am I passionate about this?

Namrata Poddar is an Indian American writer of fiction and nonfiction, literature and writing faculty at UCLA, and Interviews Editor for Kweli where she curates the series, “Race, Power and Storytelling.” Her work has explored ways in which writers from across the world decolonize Literature. Her debut novel, Border Less, was a finalist for Feminist Press’s Louise Meriwether Prize, longlisted for The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, and featured in several media outlets including the “Most Anticipated” 2022 books for The Millions and Ms. Magazine. She holds a PhD in French literature from the University of Pennsylvania, an MFA in Fiction from Bennington College, and a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in Transnational Cultures from UCLA. 

Namrata's book list on debuts that subvert the mainstream Westerns

Namrata Poddar Why did Namrata love this book?

Written in 46 short vignettes, this is a coming-of-age story of Esperanza Cordero, a young girl growing up in a Hispanic neighborhood in Chicago. Yet the novel is anything but one protagonist’s story, as it consistently juxtaposes Esperanza’s story with stories of secondary characters who make a brief appearance in the novel to seldom reappear and tie loose ends of the “sub-plots”: Marin, Louie, Alicia, Geraldo, Rafaela, Minerva, and others. Narrative continuity via a protagonist’s psychological journey that is a key trait of coming-of-age novels, or of mainstream Western or realist novels at large, is repeatedly disrupted here, making the reader wonder, who is the novel’s protagonist?: Esperanza, Mango Street, or its Brown community, or young Latina girls and women in a 20th century USA, alluded by “las Mujeres” to whom the book is dedicated.

By Sandra Cisneros,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The House on Mango Street as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • A coming-of-age classic, acclaimed by critics, beloved by readers of all ages, taught in schools and universities alike, and translated around the world—from the winner of the 2019 PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature.

The House on Mango Street is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero, a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Told in a series of vignettes-sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous-Sandra Cisneros' masterpiece is a classic story of childhood and self-discovery. Few other books in our time have touched so many readers.

“Cisneros draws…


Book cover of Esperanza Rising

Dionna L. Mann Author Of Mama's Chicken and Dumplings

From my list on middle-grade with diverse heroes and joyful prose.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been more drawn to nonfiction than fiction. I remember spending hour after hour with my mother’s World Book Encyclopedias, memorizing breeds of dogs, US state capitals, and how to sign the alphabet. I loved reading books to learn about all kinds of things, and still do. But when it comes to fiction, unless the words are arranged like musical notes on the page, I struggle to read past chapter three. I need the narrator’s voice to make my brain happy and interested. While reading, I need to feel something deeply—to laugh, cry, or have my thoughts dance so rhythmically I find myself fast-blinking.  

Dionna's book list on middle-grade with diverse heroes and joyful prose

Dionna L. Mann Why did Dionna love this book?

I love the narration of this book. It is rich, lush, and vibrant. Each scene is painted like the sky at sunrise. The main character Esperanza’s journey—from riches to rags, from pampered to grateful, from fearful to hopeful—is very satisfying.

Seeing the world through Esperanza’s viewpoint was heart-wrenching and eye-opening. The ending contains a delightful surprise, which, in my opinion, also makes for a great read.     

By Pam Muñoz Ryan,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Esperanza Rising as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Esperanza Rising joins the Scholastic Gold line, which features award-winning and beloved novels. Includes exclusive bonus content!

Esperanza thought she'd always live a privileged life on her family's ranch in Mexico. She'd always have fancy dresses, a beautiful home filled with servants, and Mama, Papa, and Abuelita to care for her. But a sudden tragedy forces Esperanza and Mama to flee to California and settle in a Mexican farm labor camp. Esperanza isn't ready for the hard work, financial struggles brought on by the Great Depression, or lack of acceptance she now faces. When Mama gets sick and a strike…


Book cover of Dominicana

David Kamp Author Of Sunny Days: The Children's Television Revolution That Changed America

From my list on coming of age in New York City.

Why am I passionate about this?

“You spend your first 18 years as a sponge and the rest of your life using those early years as material.” Martin Short said this to me when I collaborated with him on his memoir, I Must Say: My Life As a Humble Comedy Legend. My own writing bears this out. My nonfiction books The United States of Arugula and Sunny Days are not first-person books, but they examine two significant cultural movements that defined my formative years: the American food revolution led by the likes of Julia Child and Alice Waters and the children’s-TV revolution defined by Sesame Street and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Much of my journalism finds me chasing down the cultural figures who captured and shaped my young imagination, e.g., Sly Stone, Johnny Cash, Charles Schulz.

David's book list on coming of age in New York City

David Kamp Why did David love this book?

Effectively a novelization of Cruz’s own mother’s story, Dominicana is about a 15-year-old girl in the Dominican Republic who, in the 1960s, is married off to a local man in his thirties. He has set up a new life for them in Washington Heights, in upper Manhattan. Despite its moments of struggle, spousal abuse, and loneliness, this novel reads lightly and inspirationally—a celebration of its protagonist’s fortitude.

By Angie Cruz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dominicana as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2020

'A story for now, an important story . . . told with incredible freshness' Martha Lane Fox, Chair of Judges, Women's Prize 2020

'The harsh reality of immigration is balanced with a refreshing dose of humour' The Times

'This compassionate and ingenious novel has an endearing vibrancy in the storytelling that, page after page, makes it addictive reading' Irish Times

'Engrossing . . . the story itself and Ana, the protagonist, are terrifically interesting. Loved this' Roxane Gay

'This book is a valentine to my mom and all the unsung Dominicanas like…


Book cover of Indivisible

Marcia Argueta Mickelson Author Of Where I Belong

From my list on YA about immigration.

Why am I passionate about this?

My family came to the United States as undocumented immigrants from Guatemala. There is a lot of negative rhetoric being shared about undocumented immigrants. There are many reasons why people make the impossible decision to leave their native countries and travel to the United States. Reading books about these experiences creates empathy, compassion, and understanding.

Marcia's book list on YA about immigration

Marcia Argueta Mickelson Why did Marcia love this book?

Indivisible tells the story of Mateo Garcia and his little sister. Their parents are picked up by immigration officials. His school life is interrupted by this terrible event. Mateo has to help take care of his sister while not knowing what is going to happen to his parents. As a daughter of immigrants, I felt very drawn to the story. I understand what a difficult decision it is for parents to make to leave behind their home countries to try to make a better life for their children.

By Daniel Aleman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Indivisible as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

There is a word Mateo Garcia and his younger sister Sophie have been taught to fear for as long as they can remember: deportation. Over the past few years, however, the fear that their undocumented immigrant parents could be sent back to Mexico has started to fade to the back of their minds. And why wouldn't it, when their Ma and Pa have been in the United States for so long, they have American-born children, and they're hard workers and good neighbors?

When two ICE agents come asking for Pa, the Garcia family realizes that the lives they've built are…


Book cover of Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet

Marcia Argueta Mickelson Author Of Where I Belong

From my list on YA about immigration.

Why am I passionate about this?

My family came to the United States as undocumented immigrants from Guatemala. There is a lot of negative rhetoric being shared about undocumented immigrants. There are many reasons why people make the impossible decision to leave their native countries and travel to the United States. Reading books about these experiences creates empathy, compassion, and understanding.

Marcia's book list on YA about immigration

Marcia Argueta Mickelson Why did Marcia love this book?

In Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet, Penelope Prado has a dream of opening a bakery. While working in her father’s restaurant, she meets Xander, a good-looking boy whose immigration status leaves him in jeopardy. This book really resonated with me because Xander is dealing with a consequential issue of facing deportation. That’s a very scary thing to face at such a young age, and I think a lot of youth are in similarly precarious situations.

By Laekan Zea Kemp,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

As an aspiring pastry chef, Penelope Prado has always dreamed of opening her own pasteleria next to her father's restaurant, Nacho's Tacos. But her mom and dad have different plans -- leaving Pen to choose between disappointing her traditional Mexican-American parents or following her own path. When she confesses a secret she's been keeping, her world is sent into a tailspin. But then she meets a cute new hire at Nacho's who sees through her hard exterior and asks the questions she's been too afraid to ask herself.

Xander Amaro has been searching for home since he was a little…


Book cover of The Sun Is Also a Star

Amanda Addison Author Of Boundless Sky

From my list on exploring being a stranger in a strange land.

Why am I passionate about this?

Stories of migration journeys and their knock-on impact through the generations are part of my family history. Like Jacques, the key protagonist in Austerlitz, I too wasn’t told the whole story of my family’s past. Stumbling on stories of colonialism, migration, and racism as an adult has opened up an understanding of a very different world to that of my childhood. The books I have recommended are all excellent examples of migration stories and through the use of beautiful prose pack a punch in a ‘velvet glove’.

Amanda's book list on exploring being a stranger in a strange land

Amanda Addison Why did Amanda love this book?

This is a book I have been recommending to teenagers and adults alike.

This is no ordinary romantic tale of girl meets boy; it is a very much contemporary take on the notion. Two very different protagonists, from two very different backgrounds are brought together in the immigrant ‘melting pot’ of New York City. In what could be seen as a modern-day Romeo and Juliet, the characters are much more self-aware than in Shakespeare’s original and thankfully this leads to a more enlightened outcome, for them, and the people they meet on their journey.

Using deceptively simple short chapters which chart the course of one day, it cleverly deals with so many of life's big issues (including migration) primarily through the two teenage narrators.

By Nicola Yoon,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Sun Is Also a Star as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

The internationally bestselling love story from Nicola Yoon, author of Everything, Everything - coming as a major film starring Yara Shahidi in 2019.

The internationally bestselling love story from Nicola Yoon, author of Everything, Everything. Now a major film starring Yara Shahidi and Charles Melton!

Natasha-
I'm a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny.

Or dreams that will never come true. I'm definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him.

Not when my family is twelve hours away from…


Book cover of Girl Underwater

Holly Green Author Of In the Same Boat

From my list on contemporary YA survival stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was eleven, I picked up a book about a girl and a boy who get lost on a backpacking trip in the Sierra Nevada. It’s the first book I can remember reading over and over and over again. I wanted to be in that tent and in that forest figuring out how to survive. Since then, I’ve been hooked on books about people facing grueling physical challenges, surviving in the wilderness, and finding out what they’re made of. They’re urgent and compelling and the stakes are high, and I’ll never stop loving the thrill of reading about people being pushed to their physical and mental limits.

Holly's book list on contemporary YA survival stories

Holly Green Why did Holly love this book?

This book had me at the premise. College sophomore Avery Delacorte is flying home for Thanksgiving when her plane goes down in the Rocky Mountains. She and Colin, a teammate from her college swim team, survive, along with three young boys. Avery and Colin have to keep themselves, and the boys, alive for five days in the mountains during a snowstorm. I love the way this book shows the struggle of surviving in the wilderness during the winter and explores the complicated feelings Avery has after rescue and the impact those feelings have on her relationships. 

By Claire Kells,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Girl Underwater as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An adventurous debut novel that cross cuts between a competitive college swimmer’s harrowing days in the Rocky Mountains after a major airline disaster and her recovery supported by the two men who love her—only one of whom knows what really happened in the wilderness.

Nineteen-year-old Avery Delacorte loves the water. Growing up in Brookline, Massachusetts, she took swim lessons at her community pool and captained the local team; in high school, she raced across bays and sprawling North American lakes. Now a sophomore on her university’s nationally ranked team, she struggles under the weight of new expectations but life is…


Book cover of I Am Still Alive

Holly Green Author Of In the Same Boat

From my list on contemporary YA survival stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was eleven, I picked up a book about a girl and a boy who get lost on a backpacking trip in the Sierra Nevada. It’s the first book I can remember reading over and over and over again. I wanted to be in that tent and in that forest figuring out how to survive. Since then, I’ve been hooked on books about people facing grueling physical challenges, surviving in the wilderness, and finding out what they’re made of. They’re urgent and compelling and the stakes are high, and I’ll never stop loving the thrill of reading about people being pushed to their physical and mental limits.

Holly's book list on contemporary YA survival stories

Holly Green Why did Holly love this book?

This book is tense! Jess is alone in the Canadian wilderness, still injured from the car accident that killed her mom, and now her dad has been murdered and his cabin burned down. Jess must figure out how to survive in the cold with no shelter and no way out when nobody knows where she is. This is part survival story and part thriller. Jess is driven by her desire to survive as much as her desire for revenge. The survival aspect here is enough to keep you reading, but I also loved trying to piece together the mystery of why her dad was killed. 

By Kate Alice Marshall,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Am Still Alive as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Jess is stranded in the woods. She has few supplies and only her dog for company. Her survival skills are limited, and she has disabilities that make physical labor a challenge. And winter is on its way. How did she get here?

Alternating between the past and the present, this tightly-paced novel tells the story of a girl who survived a car crash that killed her mother, then was pulled from foster care and sent to live with her estranged survivalist father in the remote Canadian wilderness. Jess was just beginning to get to know her dad when a secret…


Book cover of A Heart in a Body in the World

Holly Green Author Of In the Same Boat

From my list on contemporary YA survival stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was eleven, I picked up a book about a girl and a boy who get lost on a backpacking trip in the Sierra Nevada. It’s the first book I can remember reading over and over and over again. I wanted to be in that tent and in that forest figuring out how to survive. Since then, I’ve been hooked on books about people facing grueling physical challenges, surviving in the wilderness, and finding out what they’re made of. They’re urgent and compelling and the stakes are high, and I’ll never stop loving the thrill of reading about people being pushed to their physical and mental limits.

Holly's book list on contemporary YA survival stories

Holly Green Why did Holly love this book?

This isn’t a wilderness story, but it is about survival and a girl pushing herself to her physical limits. Annabelle starts running as a way to survive the grief and guilt she feels after losing her best friend and her boyfriend to gun violence. What starts as a few miles turns into a run across the country, from the west coast to Washington DC, supported by her grandfather and her brother. As she puts her body through this grueling experience, she slowly shares the horrible event that set her on this path, and as she pushes through the pain, she slowly begins to heal. Caletti expertly combines the present-day narrative with the past to make this a gripping novel. 

By Deb Caletti,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Heart in a Body in the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

"This is one for the ages." -Gayle Forman, author of the #1 bestseller If I Stay
"A book everyone should read right now." -The New York Times Book Review
"A vital and heartbreaking story that brings together the #MeToo movement, the effects of gun violence, and the struggle of building oneself up again after crisis." -Elle
"Equal parts heartbreaking and hopeful." -BookPage

A Printz Honor Book

Each step in Annabelle's 2,700-mile cross-country run brings her closer to facing a trauma from her past in National Book Award finalist Deb Caletti's novel about the heart, all the ways it breaks, and…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in immigrants, refugees, and Guatemala?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about immigrants, refugees, and Guatemala.

Immigrants 174 books
Refugees 144 books
Guatemala 13 books