I AM NOT YOUR PERFECT MEXICAN DAUGHTER is the Latino book that I’ve been looking for all my life, with incredibly relatable characters and some of the most beautiful writing I’ve ever read.
If it weren’t for the humor and the deep sense of connection I felt, I don’t know if I would have liked this book as much. It is very character-driven with super long chapters and not much of a plot. Definitely not my thing. But somehow, Erika L. Sánchez wrote one of the funniest books I’ve ever read, while keeping its issues raw and real. As a Latina, it is sometimes hard to find good Hispanic representation. This has now become my second favorite book of all time, solely because I have never felt so represented in a novel before.
Julia is one of the most complex and interesting characters I’ve stumbled upon. I related to every single one of her struggles as a Latina. How it sometimes feels like you’re not meeting your parents’ expectations and should do what makes them happy, instead of what makes you happy. The way that she always stood up for herself and was never afraid of voicing her honest opinion is worth admiring.
Her relationship with her parents was super realistic and I could honestly tear up thinking about it. All the phrases and curse words are ones that I hear so often, I couldn’t help but chuckle. And even though I’m PuertoRican, not Mexican, the food. The food made me drool non-stop. Julia and Connor’s relationship was really cute and I think it was very truthful, cause in most YA novels, these perfect romances are showcased as if they were going to last all of eternity. I liked that uncertainty of not knowing what was going to happen. And her and Lorena’s friendship reminded me and my best friend. How they were polar opposites but inexplicably still managed to understand each other better than anyone else.
There wasn’t much of a plot because it focuses on Julia’s everyday life and that may not appeal to many readers, but the way that I connected to these characters has made this book stick with me. I wanted a bit more of the Olga plotline but I liked how it wrapped up. The story felt a little fast at times, but isn’t that how life feels most of the time? The pace felt very natural, even if some characters felt a bit like plot devices at times, we meet people and they play no part in our lives, which is what this novel highlighted. The writing was truly beautiful and made it seem as if I was in Julia’s shoes even though I already identified with her greatly.
I loved the anxiety and depression and rep which I always love to read about. And the Latinx representation was pretty minimal, but it’s so important nowadays that I’ll take whatever I can get. Also, trigger warning for a suicide attempt, plus there are some homophobic comments here and there.
I really hope that Latino and Hispanic teenagers get the chance to read this book, since I know it’ll resonate with Latinx kids all over the world.
Rating: 4.75 out of 5 stars
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez hits shelves October 17, 2017.
Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family.
But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role.
Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed.
But it’s not long before Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as perfect as everyone thought. With the help of her best friend Lorena, and her first kiss, first love, first everything boyfriend Connor, Julia is determined to find out. Was Olga really what she seemed? Or was there more to her sister’s story? And either way, how can Julia even attempt to live up to a seemingly impossible ideal?