I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

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 shatter...

Title:I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
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Edition Language:English

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter Reviews

  • Paige (Illegal in 3 Countries)

    See more of my reviews on

    ! My copy was an eARC I got from the publisher via NetGalley as a staff reviewer for

    .

    See more of my reviews on

    ! My copy was an eARC I got from the publisher via NetGalley as a staff reviewer for

    .

    First off, go read Latinx reviewers’ opinions and reviews of this book, especially if they’re Mexican/Mexican-American like Julia and her family. Boost their voices instead of white voices like mine. I’m reviewing I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter mostly because it’s something that’s right as a reviewer who requested the book, but I also want to say this book is good. There’s a reason it’s made the longlist for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature!

    White people like me are unlikely to get this book or get much from it either. It’s just a fact because this book is for and about all the Latinx kids chafing in their households and family traditions but still in love their heritage and culture because identity is cimplicated. Some of what Julia lives with because it’s a Mexican thing or just something her mom Amá just does are downright abusive. Even after learning about what Amá went through and why she is the way she is, it’s hard to forgive her for the way she treated Julia. Insulting Julia to her face so many times! Good God!

    Julia is an abrasive girl narrating a very character-driven book, so her personality will either make it or break it for readers. She’s also diagnosed with depression later in the book, adding dimension to portrayals of the disease. The mere word makes you think “sadness all the time,” but that isn’t always how you see it. Some people, like Julia, are constantly angry instead. There is no single way depression expresses itself and we can’t forget that. What’s undeniable above all is how well-written Julia is in her fury and familial claustrophobia.

    I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter is very pro-medication/therapy for dealing with mental illness too. I swear, I’m going to start a definitive list of books like these for teens because THERAPY AND MEDICATION THAT FIGHTS BACK AGAINST MENTAL ILLNESS IS GOOD. DON’T LET THE STEREOTYPES ABOUT THE TWO STOP YOU.

    My one true sticking point comes when Julia insults someone’s hair by saying the woman has an “asexual mom haircut.” I don’t appreciate my sexuality or anyone else’s used as an insult! (Well, except for heteros because it doesn’t hurt anyone, participate in systemic discrimination, or happen all that often, which therefore makes it hilarious. See: white people jokes.)

    My best friend is Latina with roots stretching from Mexico to Peru. Her first language was Spanish and she was downgraded from advanced classes in junior high to regular-level classes for the first half of high school because her eighth-grade English teacher didn’t think she spoke well enough to remain in advanced classes despite having excellent grades. Her relationship with her family as of late has also been very complicated.

    If she were a fan of prose novels, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter is THE book I’d hand to her. Something tells me she’d find a kindred spirit in Julia. I hope its place on the NBA longlist will help get it into the hands of more Latinx teens who need it! If you’re a white person like me, I hope you do your part to get this book to the readers it’s for. If you’re not, I doubt you needed me to tell you this book is worthwhile. You’re smart like that.

  • Joss (tealreader)

    Everyone needs to read this book. I've never felt so connected to a character in my entire life.

  • Kate Olson

    Sanchez has taken a teenage girl and created one of the most relatable characters I have read yet in young adult literature. Julia and her family and the Chicago setting are absolute perfection, and readers will get swept up into both Julia's grief over the loss of her sister, but also her agony about being trapped into

    Sanchez has taken a teenage girl and created one of the most relatable characters I have read yet in young adult literature. Julia and her family and the Chicago setting are absolute perfection, and readers will get swept up into both Julia's grief over the loss of her sister, but also her agony about being trapped into a life that she doesn't want. The mystery of her sister Olga's death and Julia's attempts to escape her family create subplots that make this title a incredibly compelling page-turner as well.

    What seals the 5th star for this title for me, however, is the complete and utter ease that Sanchez weaves English and Spanish throughout the narrative, sometimes translating the Spanish and sometimes just leaving it out there because maybe the reader SHOULD be expected to speak and read a language other than English for once. Julia's accounts of her family's undocumented status and their harrowing journeys from Mexico are heartbreaking and 100% necessary and relevant, both for readers who are themselves living this life, but also for readers who struggle to understand the reality of living it.

    Required purchase for high school libraries. Get this book into the hands of teens NOW.

  • Dani Amaya

    Look, I am not a perfect Mexican daughter, but neither was my mother nor her mother before her.

    That means that while I've always been aware of the ideal girl many mexicans would like me to be, I've never felt that pressure directly myself. Not like Julia.

    This book was really incredible in that way. It was a whole portrayal of Mexican culture, the good and bad. There was a beautiful mix of English and Spanish that felt right for the story. The characters were well written and well developed. I

    Look, I am not a perfect Mexican daughter, but neither was my mother nor her mother before her.

    That means that while I've always been aware of the ideal girl many mexicans would like me to be, I've never felt that pressure directly myself. Not like Julia.

    This book was really incredible in that way. It was a whole portrayal of Mexican culture, the good and bad. There was a beautiful mix of English and Spanish that felt right for the story. The characters were well written and well developed. I'm really grateful to read a book about Mexicans, not just vaguely hispanic or have hispanic side characters, but actually be about Mexicans.

    This is the first book I've ever read about a purely Mexican girl and I wasn't disappointed.

    I loved that this book touches on topics of mental health and lgbt, it's a well rounded book that made Julia's story feel real and whole. I liked the way the book went from Julia at 15 to her going to college. Grief and Finding Yourself is a long process and I'm glad the author showed a large period of that time.

    Erika Sánchez contributes real representation and a new exciting perspective on a genre that really needed it. Her debut is an absolute smash, she wrote a really strong and important book, I'm so happy to have read it.

  • Sarah

    2.5 rounded down

    I have to admit, it took quite a while for me to get into this one. This isn't a particularly long read, but is quite slow paced, and more YA than I was expecting (I'll explain that later!).

    The story follows Julia's life in the aftermath of her older sister's sudden death at 22 (not a spoiler, it happens on the first page on the book). Julia is a 15 year old Mexican girl, living in Chicago with her incredibly controlling parents. It is apparent from an early stage that Julia has

    2.5 rounded down

    I have to admit, it took quite a while for me to get into this one. This isn't a particularly long read, but is quite slow paced, and more YA than I was expecting (I'll explain that later!).

    The story follows Julia's life in the aftermath of her older sister's sudden death at 22 (not a spoiler, it happens on the first page on the book). Julia is a 15 year old Mexican girl, living in Chicago with her incredibly controlling parents. It is apparent from an early stage that Julia has some kind of anger issues (or at least I felt she did.. although perhaps this was just frustration?), and suffers from depression. We stay with her right up until she goes to university, with a few weird time jumps in between.

    I found it hard to find any likeable characters here, except Julia's teacher.. and I guess her relatives in Mexico and maybe Connor. I warmed to Julia in the latter stages of the story, but it took a long while. I think the author does a good job conveying how a teenager feels when they have parents who are very restrictive, but it wasn’t a whole lot of fun to read about.

    Moving on to the writing... this would be a 2 star read for sure if I rated purely based on the writing. It was written quite simplistically, in a way that made me feel like it was aimed at younger readers (think like 11-14 years old). I'm not saying children these ages need things dumbing down, but like I said, it felt very much like a YA book, even though a lot of the themes (suicide attempts, sex) are probably not suited to children of those ages.

    Overall I don't think this is a book that will stick with me for long. The most enjoyable parts to read were when Julia went to Mexico to stay with her relatives, and had it not been for those sections and the character/plot development towards the end of the book I would have found this quite a dull read. Not one I would particularly recommend to others, but I don't massively regret picking it up.

  • Tatiana

    “Obnoxious” and “constantly confrontational” would be the best words to describe Julia, the main character and narrator of this novel. I don’t think I really warmed up to her, even after getting to know her better and learning some of the reasons for her attitude . She is not an easy person to like, that’s it. I’ve known people like this in real world. But it’s not really a criticism of the novel. Julia’s personality clashes with her mother’s are a major part of the story. This is a story about

    “Obnoxious” and “constantly confrontational” would be the best words to describe Julia, the main character and narrator of this novel. I don’t think I really warmed up to her, even after getting to know her better and learning some of the reasons for her attitude . She is not an easy person to like, that’s it. I’ve known people like this in real world. But it’s not really a criticism of the novel. Julia’s personality clashes with her mother’s are a major part of the story. This is a story about meeting your parents’ expectations and breaking away from the culture your parents come from.

    One of the stronger portrayals of immigrant experience in YA, with a very vivid portrayal of life in Mexican community, both in America and Mexico.

  • Book Riot Community

    When Olga is hit and killed by a semi, Julia mourns the loss of not just her sister, but what it might mean for what her life will look like down the road. Olga was quiet, stayed at home, and played the role of “good Mexican daughter.” Julia wants out — she wants more to her life than her Chicago neighborhood or living at home forever like her sister did. She’s a poet and an art lover and wants to make a life out of writing.

    Through the process of learning to live without Olga, Julia slowly begin

    When Olga is hit and killed by a semi, Julia mourns the loss of not just her sister, but what it might mean for what her life will look like down the road. Olga was quiet, stayed at home, and played the role of “good Mexican daughter.” Julia wants out — she wants more to her life than her Chicago neighborhood or living at home forever like her sister did. She’s a poet and an art lover and wants to make a life out of writing.

    Through the process of learning to live without Olga, Julia slowly begins to better understand why her parents, both immigrants, are the way that they are. More, Julia begins to unravel the deep secrets that her sister kept. And it’s during a trip to Mexico to visit family that Julia begins to learn how much her parents sacrificed for her and Olga, as well as how much she has to step up and take control of her own life and future. That it’s OKAY for her not to be someone she isn’t.

    This well-drawn debut YA novel from Sanchez should delight readers who loved Gabi, A Girl in Pieces. Also, a moment to drool over that cover!

    — Kelly Jensen

    from The Best Books We Read In May 2017:

  • Liv (Stories For Coffee)

    I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter is a hilarious and striking contemporary novel following a young Mexican-American girl after her sister has passed away. She has to face the fact that her mother doesn’t think she’s good enough and her father who ignores her. This novel follows the life of a teen living in Chicago as she deals with depression, anxiety, loss, change, and college applications. Told in a witty and raw way, this story kept my attention from the moment it began and left me wanti

    I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter is a hilarious and striking contemporary novel following a young Mexican-American girl after her sister has passed away. She has to face the fact that her mother doesn’t think she’s good enough and her father who ignores her. This novel follows the life of a teen living in Chicago as she deals with depression, anxiety, loss, change, and college applications. Told in a witty and raw way, this story kept my attention from the moment it began and left me wanting more.

    I related to this novel more than I thought I would, and it made me fall in love with this story even more. I related to how brash and blunt Julia was and her mixed feelings about her family. I related to her mental illnesses which were portrayed so well without sugar coating it. The relationships she had with her friends, teachers, and family were so well written and natural in a way that made the characters come to life for me. I also really enjoyed the fact that Julia wanted to be a writer, so there are endless literary references scattered in the storyline.

    At the start of this novel, Julia is a crude and judgemental girl who is angry with her family and the world she lives in. But as she grows and learns from her mistakes, she gains confidence and chases her dreams and learns to speak out about her mental illnesses. The growth of Julia’s character is the strongest component of this story, and I appreciated how much she changed and grew more mature.

    This contemporary novel was so well written with the Latinx elements thrown in (There was Spanish dialogue and it wasn’t italicized!) to the familial elements that pushed the storyline forward. It was an enjoyable diverse contemporary novel, and I highly recommend it to young Latinx readers because they will see themselves mirrored in this story in some way.

  • Jen Ryland

    This book wove in a lot of different themes and issues and I really enjoyed them all.

    is a grief book, as Julia is mourning the sudden death of her older sister.

    It’s also a book about family and all the love and frustration that family can entail. Julia feels that she’s a disappointment to her parents. She thinks she’s less “perfect” a daughter than Olga was, until she tries to learn more about her sister and discovers that maybe she and Olga had more in co

    This book wove in a lot of different themes and issues and I really enjoyed them all.

    is a grief book, as Julia is mourning the sudden death of her older sister.

    It’s also a book about family and all the love and frustration that family can entail. Julia feels that she’s a disappointment to her parents. She thinks she’s less “perfect” a daughter than Olga was, until she tries to learn more about her sister and discovers that maybe she and Olga had more in common than she thought.

    It’s a story about the struggles of first generation kids. Julia finds her parents old-fashioned and overprotective and thinks they don’t understand her. She doesn’t agree with their definition of the “perfect” girl. Then she learns more about what her parents went through to reach the U.S. As her family is undocumented, Julia also worries about putting her family at risk by applying to college.

    It’s also a story that addresses mental health issues, as Julia struggles with those in addition to all of the above.

    I've seen that some readers found Julia unlikeable. I did not. She's snarky. She's angry about a lot of stuff. She's a teenager. I like snarky characters, and I loved her narrative voice.

    This book is also a YA finalist for the National Book Awards.

    Read more of my reviews on

    or check out my

    I received a free advance copy of this book from the publisher for possible review.

  • Rachel Newlin

    This book is a stunning exploration of what it means to want so much while feeling like you have so little. Sanchez does an excellent job of exploring cultural expectations, socioeconomic issues, and anxiety and depression as a late teen. With so much going on, one would expect the book not to tackle all the issues very well. That is not true of this one -- it is a perfect exploration of how we are all dealing with many things at once, and certainly a great example of intersectional feminism in

    This book is a stunning exploration of what it means to want so much while feeling like you have so little. Sanchez does an excellent job of exploring cultural expectations, socioeconomic issues, and anxiety and depression as a late teen. With so much going on, one would expect the book not to tackle all the issues very well. That is not true of this one -- it is a perfect exploration of how we are all dealing with many things at once, and certainly a great example of intersectional feminism in so many ways. Julia is a character many modern women will see themselves in -- a brash, unafraid and unapologetically opinionated young woman dealing with an overbearing mother, a privileged white boyfriend, and expectations all around. Many will find themselves in Julia or her sister Olga, but for those that don't, it's all the more reason to pick this up. Readers will walk away from this novel with a greater understanding of what it is to exist in this world as a woman of color, and they will be better for it.

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