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If the recent hurricanes left you wanting to know more about the history of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the titles that follow are an easy place to start.

Since power and communications on the islands are not yet fully restored, many people are relying on family members and friends on the mainland for access to up-to-date information and practical help. If you, or someone you know, is looking for information on the status of relief efforts, safety reminders, or FEMA applications, you can find information for Puerto Rico here, and for the U.S. Virgin Islands here.

The Not-Quite States of America: Dispatches from the Territories and Other Far-Flung Outposts of the USADoug Mack

The Not-Quite States of America: Dispatches from the Territories and Other Far-Flung Outposts of the USA – Doug Mack
Doug Mack traveled more than 30,000 miles, exploring American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Marianas Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The total population of the islands exceeds that of Chicago and over the past century their uniquely American customs have paralleled their complicated histories with the rest of the United States. More than just a travel guide filled with fascinating facts, this book discusses how the islanders are trying to define their potential futures.

While the five island groups that constitute the farthest edges of the United States are really part of the country, and have been for more than a century, other places never (officially) existed at all. Lost States: True Stories of Texlahoma, Transylvania, and Other States That Never Made It by Michael J. Trinklein explores the original, rough draft, versions of the United States, featuring places that almost, kind of, never happened. Some make intuitive sense, like Texlahoma, and others don’t. (Where was ‘Nickajack,’ and why was it called that?) Open this map-filled book, to any page, and discover a sometimes silly, always fascinating, history of the United States.

Our America: a Hispanic History of the United StatesFelipe Fernández-Armesto

Our America: a Hispanic History of the United States – Felipe Fernández-Armesto

Beginning with the arrival of the Spanish on Puerto Rico and extending to the West Coast, this history begins a century before the English arrived.

Marriage of OppositesAlice Hoffman

Marriage of Opposites – Alice Hoffman

In 1807, Rachel Pomié, who would become the mother of Camille Pissarro, is a rebellious Jewish girl living on the island of Saint Thomas. She is married off to a much older widower in order to save her family’s finances. When he dies, leaving her with seven children to raise, her entire future rests with his 22 year old French-born nephew, whose arrival precipitates a scandal.

Conquistadora Esmeralda Santiago

Conquistadora – Esmeralda Santiago

Ana is an eighteen year old convent girl fascinated by the outside world, and unwilling to live out her life in southwestern Spain as the wife of an aristocrat. Instead, she marries the twin brother of her best friend’s fiancé, and leaves Spain with both of them. The brothers intend to run their newly inherited sugar cane plantation on Puerto Rico, but it is Ana whose accomplishments surpass all their dreams.

Esmeralda Santiago has also written an autobiography, When I Was Puerto Rican, describing her childhood on Puerto Rico, and her journey to New York City as a teen.

Land of Love and Drowning Tiphanie Yanique

Land of Love and Drowning – Tiphanie Yanique

Eeona and Annette are the daughters of a ship’s captain, with high expectations for their own futures. When their father dies at sea the consequences reverberate across decades for both the sisters and the other inhabitants of Saint Thomas. This twentieth century family saga, which begins just as the islands shift from Danish to American rule, is also a panoramic history of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Stay with Me Sandra Rodriguez Barron

Stay with Me – Sandra Rodriguez Barron

Five toddlers survive a Caribbean hurricane onboard a yacht and, when no one is able to identify them, they are adopted by different families. They grow up referring to each other as siblings, until a reunion two decades later provides an opportunity to discover who they are, and whether they are actually related.

Precinct Puerto RicoSteven Torres

Precinct Puerto Rico – Steven Torres

Luis Gonzalo, a small town sheriff from the mountains of Puerto Rico, encounters his most dangerous case while visiting his wife’s coastal hometown. Several bodies wash ashore, and are identified as Dominicans victimized by smugglers. The shipwreck quickly becomes a murder site, and when local law enforcement won’t help him, Sheriff Gonzalo begins to suspect widespread corruption.

This is the first title in a series. The correct order (so far) is:

1. Precinct Puerto Rico

2. Death in Precinct Puerto Rico

3. Burning Precinct Puerto Rico (also titled Message in the Flames)

4. Missing in Precinct Puerto Rico

5. Blackout in Precinct Puerto Rico

No Virgin Island C. Michele Dorsey

No Virgin Island – C. Michele Dorsey

This is the first title in the Sabrina Salter mystery series. A Boston meteorologist has relocated to the island of St. John, and makes a living cleaning and renting villas to tourists. Unfortunately, a previous accusation makes her a prime suspect when she is the last to have seen a murdered guest.

In the second title in the series, Permanent SunsetSabrina and Henry are thrilled to acquire a luxurious property, until a glamorous wedding and arguments over a prenuptial agreement lead to murder.

Happy Reading!