I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

This coming-of-age story (352 pages) was published in October of 2017 by Knopf Books for Young Readers. The book takes you to Chicago and Mexico. David read I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if he didn't recommend it.

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

Erika L. Sánchez

Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was her sister Olga’s role — but Olga is dead. And now, Julia is left to grapple with her own grief and the role she plays in her newly fractured family.

Being 15 years old is hard enough. Being 15 in Chicago with immigrant parents who just lost their idealized daughter is almost impossible. Olga, sainted in life and death, could do no wrong, and she was her mother’s favorite. In the void left behind, Julia struggles with her own feelings of guilt, of loss, of shock — and the slowly dawning realization that Olga may not have been the perfect daughter she seemed.

This coming-of-age story plunges us deep into Mexican family culture, with action taking place in the United States and Mexico. In the wake of her sister’s death, Julia also experiences her first romance, a changing relationship with her grief-stricken — and in her grief, hyper-critical — mother, and her desire to see the exciting places beyond her life of tortillas and tias.

The prose is poignant and laugh-out-loud funny as Julia struggles to prove who she’s not, and ends up going around the back way to find out who she is. Along the way, she uncovers family secrets — some heart-breaking, some illuminating — that help her understand her place in the world.

This is a tender and sharp exploration of adolescent angst, and what it’s like to want so much when you have so little.

I smile and say, thank you, because the rudest thing you can do to a Mexican lady is refuse her food—might as well spit on a picture of La Virgen de Guadalupe or turn the TV off during Sábado Gigante. — Erika L. Sánchez

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Tropical coasts, lush jungles, ancient Mayan and Aztec ruins, majestic colonial architecture, fresh margaritas — Mexico is an inspired background for all kinds of stories about sun, fun, friendship, and family.

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