Rating: 3 / 5
Erika L. Sanchez’s I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter is the introspective story of the struggles a teen faces when she can’t – and doesn’t want to – live up to the expectations of her Mexican parents, especially after her upstanding sister dies.
Thank you to Penguin Random House for sending me this free book!
Julia struggles to fit into the shadow of her recently deceased sister, whom her parents believed was perfect. Her parents immigrated from Mexico, and they expect her to spend time at home with them. Julia wants to spend time with her friends, to go to college, to get out of her parents’ house and out of Chicago, though. She finds her parents expectations to be crippling and she daily agonizes about letting them down and rages against the rules they place upon her.
Part mystery and journey to understanding her dead sister’s life and part self-exploration, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter is all about Julia coming to terms what what she wants in life, what her parents expect of her, and how her sister’s death has affected each of these.
Please take caution while reading I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter if any of the followings topics may trigger you:
- Self-harm / suicide
- Death / dying
- Mental illness
I love Young Adult novels; I love how raw and honest they are. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter is no exception. This story shares so much about Mexican culture and, very uniquely – I think, melds that with how cultural expectations can have negative effects on those the expectations have been placed upon. In this case, Julia finds it impossible to come to terms with what she wants in life and what her parents want for her. This aspect of the novel is so moving, eye-opening, and honest.
What I didn’t love was the voice Sanchez chose for Julia. She is extremely negative – which I can forgive because she struggles with depression – but coupled with surface-level emotional sincerity, I ultimately struggled with the writing. I generally enjoy YA writing – I’m fine with a more juvenile voice, but it must also be deeply rooted in emotion. I just didn’t find that in the case of Julia, which I was surprised by since the subject matter tends toward the emotional.
The relationship between Julia and her mother was particularly compelling – and, at times, infuriating – for me. My relationship with my mom is the exact opposite of Julia’s, and I found myself comparing the two relationships – until, of course, I remembered that family dynamics and cultures are so vast and different, and all completely valid. I deeply appreciated this relationship’s complexity and growth throughout the novel – it was one of the most special and captivating aspects of the novel.
This novel is so worth reading and rich in culture and inclusivity; it sends a wonderful message that so many need to hear. While the writing left me wanting more, I enjoyed Julia’s story and how the American and Mexican cultures she knows are at play to mold her hopes and dreams for her life and her relationship with her family. I surely don’t recommend NOT reading it (very clear-ish, right?).
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my thoughts on I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the novel in the comments or at my Instagram, @bookmarkedbya!