Kicking off the five best books for Hispanic Heritage Month is “Dominicana” by Angie Cruz. Published in 2020, it was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction and currently has 4.12 stars on Goodreads with almost 30,000 ratings. The novel’s main character is Ana, a 15 year old who lives in the Dominican Republic. She marries Juan, a man twice her age, so she can move to New York, hoping one day her whole family can move there with her. However, once in New York, Ana is left to fend for herself in a rundown apartment at the hands of the newly cruel and violent Juan.
The Guardian notes that the book was inspired by Cruz’s mother, who apparently didn’t believe anyone would be interested in her story. Though it has some jarring topics within, Cruz paints a stunning and ultimately hopeful portrait of what it’s really like to be an undocumented immigrant with no money, prospects, or English language skills in the 1960s.