Title: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
Author: Erika L. Sanchez
Bookstore: Open Books in Chicago
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Julia: definitely not your perfect Mexican daughter. She has big dreams of being a writer, and she refuses to allow her family’s expectations to derail her plans.
Olga: Julia’s older sister, who was the perfect Mexican daughter. She went to community college, worked a part-time job, and took care of her parents — until an accident left her dead, and eternally perfect.
Connor: a white boy from Evanston, who can’t possibly understand Julia’s world but wants to be part of it anyway.
Angie: Olga’s best friend, who lets slip that there might have been more to Olga than everyone thought.
Lorena: Julia’s best friend — and polar opposite. She doesn’t believe that Olga could have kept any secrets. But she’ll stick with Julia along the way.
And seriously, how on earth can Julia fall in love or find the truth under the never-blinking eyes of her parents?
Julia is different from her family, she wants to leave the Southside of Chicago to go to college, explore the world and become a writer, but her parents do not understand her dreams. To them, it is not normal to move away from your family and dream of becoming a writer, which they do not consider a viable career. Olga was the opposite of Julia — she got along great with their mom, she stayed home and attended community college and never disobeyed her parents. She did everything to keep her parents happy. She was the perfect Mexican daughter until an accident that left her dead. Soon after, Julia finds out that she was not as perfect as others thought.
Julia is a headstrong teenager that knows what she wants and nothing was going to stop her. She is not an easy character to like, there were moments when I think she overreacted and others where she was plain obnoxious. I was waiting for the moment when I was going to like her a little, but it never came. There were moments though where I understood where her frustration came from and I for sure would be frustrated too, but I would’ve taken a different route.
Sanchez did a great job in taking me back to my childhood in many ways. Especially the spiritual egg cleansing routine – my grandma would do this to me everytime I was sick or she thought someone was giving me the evil eye. I was able to see myself in both Julia and Olga in some ways; in Julia, she loves reading just like I do and always wanted to go to college. As for Olga, I am close to my family, just like she was, but the difference between my family and theirs was that I was always told from a young age to read, educate yourself and go to college to start a great career.
This book pulled me in like no tomorrow. This is a great YA book that I believe a lot of young Latinx readers would be able to connect with. It has hilarious moments, along with very dark moments. One thing that did confuse me was the synopsis; the way it was written made it seem like I was going to get the perspective of four characters, but in the end, it was only Julia’s. I still enjoyed the book very much.
Warning: there are some sensitive materials.