Books allow us to step into new worlds and realities. I instantly create a mental movie from the words I read. Although many will always argue that “the book is better than the movie,” I love seeing how what I imagined matches up to what someone else has produced.
There are several Latina-authored books that have been made into films or television shows, and many more that are slated for production. I want to share some of these Latina book adaptions with you, so you can read the novel, check out the show or movie, and see if justice was served. Not to mention, let’s just enjoy some Latina representation on-screen – because these are all major wins for Latinas in Hollywood!
Mexican Laura Esquivel’s classic, Like Water for Chocolate, blends romance and magical realism to tell the story of Tita, who has to put her love for Pedro away because she has to take care of her mother. The film for this book came out in 1992, and stars Lumi Cavazos as Tita and Marco Leonardi as Pedro. When it was released, Like Water for Chocolate broke records to become the top-grossing foreign-language film in the United States up to that time.
In the Time of the Butterflies (1994)
A movie with Salma Hayek, Edward James Olmos, Pedro Armendáriz Jr., Marc Anthony, and Demián Bichir? We are here for it. That awesomeness happened in 2001, with the on-screen film adaptation of Julia Alvarez’s In the Time of the Butterflies. The book by the Dominican author offers a fictional look at the heroic Mirabal sisters. These women fought against the Trujillo regime in the Dominican Republic, and three of them gave up their lives for the cause. The film cast Salma as Minerva Mirabal, Edward as Rafael Trujillo, Pedro as Captain Peña, Marc as Lio, and Demián as Manolo Tavárez.
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter (2017)
America Ferrera is creating vehicles for other Latinxs in Hollywood by producing and directing Latinx work. She is making her directorial film debut with the adaptation of Erika L. Sánchez’s I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter. The Netflix film, to be produced by Linda Yvette Chávez, follows the bestseller’s story – Julia loses her sister and has to navigate that, on top of the expectations her Mexican family and culture.
With the Fire on High (2019)
Elizabeth Acevedo has amazed the literary world with her New York Times bestselling, award-winning books. The Afro-Dominican author’s third novel, With the Fire on High, follows Afro-Latina Emoni, a teenage mother who dreams of becoming a chef and must balance everything in her hectic life to make that dream a reality. The book has been acquired by Picturestart, who will be developing it into a film, to be produced by Lucy Kitada and Erik Feig.
Clap When You Land (2020)
Elizabeth Acevedo’s next bestseller, Clap When You Land, is also being developed for the screen, this time as a television series. It tells the story of two sisters, one in the Dominican Republic – Camino Rios – and one in New York City – Yahaira Rios – who learn about each other after their father dies in a plane crash. The novel has won several accolades, including being a shortlisted nominee for the Carnegie Medal, named one of the American Library Association’s Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults, and receiving the Audie Award for Multi-Voiced Performance.
Mexican Gothic (2020)
Mexican Gothic is the creepy, vintage-y novel you’ll want to pick up for Halloween reading. Written by Mexicana Silvia Moreno-Garcia, it takes us back to 1950s Mexico, where Noemí gets a chilling letter from her cousin Catalina, claiming that her husband is out to kill her. Noemí then sets out to the creepy old mansion to find out what’s really going on behind its walls. Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos have signed on to produce a Hulu-made television series adaptation of Mexican Gothic, and we can’t wait to see it.
Olga Dies Dreaming (2022)
Olga Dies Dreaming is a new Latinx book slated for release in January 2022 and it’s already in the works to become a one-hour drama on Hulu. Written by Puerto Rican-Mexican Xochitl Gonzalez, the novel looks at successful Nuyorican siblings Olga and Pedro, who have to deal with the return of their radical mother Blanca and their family secrets. The TV movie will be written by Xochitl, directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, and star Aubrey Plaza as Olga and Ramon Rodriguez as Pedro (both actors will also serve as producers).