Photo by Steve Casanova
I’m part of a very ordinary Cuban family, which is to say, a meddling clan of aunts, uncles, and grandparents who are tireless storytellers. I think that’s why I’m a writer today.
Whether my aunts were cooking a pot of rice and beans, mopping the floor, or just enjoying an afternoon coffee, they told me stories of their lives in Cuba. My head filled with pictures of my grandmother rolling cigars as a young girl; with pictures of Abuelo selling bicycles and building a school; with images of my delicate aunts wielding machetes in the sugar cane fields, their pants held up with rope. They told these events honestly and with pride and joy—sometimes losing themselves as they remembered the smells and sounds of home, maybe adding an extra detail or two. Sure, I read all the books my American friends were reading, but when I came home after school, my grandmother was always waiting with something really different and exciting – if I was lucky, maybe even inappropriate.
Today, I like to write stories about strong girls and their Latino families. I always keep in mind how hard it is to be a kid who is American, but whose parents are from somewhere else. But above all, I like to write stories that name the hard parts of growing up, the things that are universally challenging to all children.
Three Things You Might Not Know About Me:
- I was a teacher once, working with kids from third grade through high school
- I am shamelessly addicted to Milk Duds, despite pleas from my dentist.
- I dance a mean salsa.
Some of My Books
|Burn Baby Burn (Candlewick Press, 2016)
Synopsis: Nora Lopez is seventeen during the infamous New York summer of 1977, when the city is besieged by arson, a massive blackout, and a serial killer named Son of Sam who shoots young women on the streets. Nora’s family life isn’t going so well either: her bullying brother, Hector, is growing more threatening by the day, her mother is helpless and falling behind on the rent, and her father calls only on holidays. All Nora wants is to turn eighteen and be on her own. And while there is a cute new guy who started working with her at the deli, is dating even worth the risk when the killer likes picking off couples who stay out too late? Award-winning author Meg Medina transports us to a time when New York seemed balanced on a knife-edge, with tempers and temperatures running high, to share the story of a young woman who discovers that the greatest dangers are often closer than we like to admit — and the hardest to accept.
|Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass (Candlewick Press, 2013), winner of the 2014 Pura Bepré Medal and the 2013 Cybils Award
(Spanish edition available: Yaqui Delgado Quiere Darte Una Paliza)
Synopsis: One morning before school, some girl tells Piddy Sanchez that Yaqui Delgado hates her and wants to kick her ass. Piddy doesn’t even know who Yaqui is, never mind what she’s done to piss her off. Word is that Yaqui thinks Piddy is stuck-up, shakes her stuff when she walks, and isn’t Latin enough with her white skin, good grades, and no accent. And Yaqui isn’t kidding around, so Piddy better watch her back. At first Piddy is more concerned with trying to find out more about the father she’s never met and how to balance honors courses with her weekend job at the neighborhood hair salon. But as the harassment escalates, avoiding Yaqui and her gang starts to take over Piddy’s life. Is there any way for Piddy to survive without closing herself off or running away? In an all-too-realistic novel, Meg Medina portrays a sympathetic heroine who is forced to decide who she really is.
|The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind (Candlewick Press, 2012) Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Sonia Ocampo was born on the night of the worst storm Tres Montes had ever seen. And when the winds mercifully stopped, an unshakable belief in the girl’s protective powers began. All her life, Sonia has been asked to pray for sick mothers or missing sons, as worried parents and friends press silver milagros in her hands. Sonia knows she has no special powers, but how can she disappoint those who look to her for solace? Still, her conscience is heavy, so when she gets a chance to travel to the city and work in the home of a wealthy woman, she seizes it. At first, Sonia feels freedom in being treated like all the other girls. But when news arrives that her beloved brother has disappeared while looking for work, she learns to her sorrow that she can never truly leave the past or her family behind. With deeply realized characters, a keen sense of place, a hint of magical realism, and a flush of young romance, Meg Medina tells the tale of a strong-willed, warmhearted girl who dares to face life’s harsh truths as she finds her real power.
|Milagros: Girl From Away Originally published by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, 2008 now as e-book and print on demand at Amazon
Synopsis: Milagros de la Torre hasn’t had it easy. Ever since her father left his family behind to become a pirate, she’s been teased at school. Still, Milagros loves her small island in the Caribbean that can’t be found on any map, and she finds comfort in those around her who recognize her special gifts. But everything changes when marauders destroy the island and, with it, most of the inhabitants. Milagros escapes in a rowboat when she drifts out to sea with no direction save for the mysterious many rays that guide her to land. What is she to make of this strange new place, and who will watch over her now that she is alone? In lyrical prose, Meg Medina creates a fantastical world in which a young girl uncovers the true meaning of family, the significance or identity, and most important, the power of a mother’s love.
|Mango Abuela and Me (Candlewick Press, 2015), winner of the Pura Belpré Honor medal
(Spanish language edition available: Mango, Abuela y Yo)
Synopsis: Mia’s abuela has left her sunny house with parrots and palm trees to live with Mia and her parents in the city. The night she arrives, Mia tries to share her favorite book with Abuela before they go to sleep and discovers that Abuela can’t read the words inside. So while they cook, Mia helps Abuela learn English (“Dough. Masa”), and Mia learns some Spanish too, but it’s still hard for Abuela to learn the words she needs to tell Mia all her stories. Then Mia sees a parrot in the pet-shop window and has the perfecto idea for how to help them all communicate a little better. An endearing tale from an award-winning duo that speaks loud and clear about learning new things and the love that bonds family members
|Tia Isa Wants a Car (Candlewick Press, 2011) winner of the 2012 Ezra Jack Keats Writers Award
(Spanish language edition available: Tía Isa Quiere Un Carro) Synopsis: While Tía Isa wants to save money for a car that will take the whole family to the beach, her niece does odd jobs for neighbors. But it’s hard to save enough when half the money is set aside to someday bring family members who live far away to join them. Meg Medina’s simple, genuine story about keeping in mind those who are far away is written in lovely, lyrical prose and brought to life through Claudio Muñoz’s charming characters.