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I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
Contributor(s): Sanchez, Erika L.
ISBN: 1524700487     ISBN-13: 9781524700485
Publisher: Alfred a Knopf Inc
    OUR PRICE: $16.19  
Product Type: Hardcover
Published: October 2017
Annotation: When the sister who delighted their parents by her faithful embrace of Mexican culture dies in a tragic accident, Julia, who longs to go to college and move into a home of her own, discovers from mutual friends that her sister may not have been as perfect as believed. Simultaneous eBook.
Additional Information
Library of Congress Subjects:
Mothers and daughters; Juvenile fiction.
Sisters; Death; Juvenile fiction.
Grief; Juvenile fiction.
Dewey: [Fic]
LCCN: 2017297201
Academic/Grade Level: Grade 10-12, Age 15-18
Book type: Juvenile Fiction
Physical Information: 8.55" H x 6.00" W x 1.10" (1.05 lbs) 344 pages
Accelerated Reader Info
Quiz #: 193218
Reading Level: 4.7   Interest Level: Upper Grades   Point Value: 12.0
Scholastic Reading Counts Info
Quiz #: Q72374
Reading Level: 6.5   Interest Level: Grades 9-12   Point Value: 20.0
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.

Contributor Bio(s): Erika L. Sánchez is a poet, a feminist, and a cheerleader for young women everywhere. She was the sex and love advice columnist for Cosmopolitan for Latinas for three years, and her writing has appeared in the Rolling Stone, Salon, and the Paris Review. Since she was a 12-year-old nerd in giant bifocals and embroidered vests, Erika has dreamed of writing complex, empowering stories about girls of color—what she wanted to read as a young adult. She lives in Chicago, not far from the setting of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter. Erika is fluent in Spanish, Spanglish, and cat. You can find out more about her at or @erikalsanchez.

Reviewed by Horn Book Guide Reviews (Horn Book Guide Reviews 2018 Fall)
Fifteen-year-old narrator Julia Reyes has spent her life being her "perfect" sister Olga's opposite. After Olga's death, Julia searches for information about her sister, and the simple narratives she has created about her family unravel. Sanchez paints an evocative portrait of a Mexican American family, effectively capturing bicultural tensions. The depiction of Julia processing her losses is hauntingly memorable and noteworthy in its authentic representation of too-rarely-written-about culture. Copyright 2018 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Reviewed by Horn Book Magazine Reviews (Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2018 #2)
Julia Reyes's older sister Olga was the "perfect Mexican daughter"—living at home, working at an office, and happily spending time with her parents—but readers never meet her. Instead, the book opens at dutiful Olga's tragic funeral after she is hit by a truck. Fifteen-year-old narrator Julia has spent her life being Olga's opposite—hating her family's roach-infested apartment, arguing with her parents (especially her mother), and dreaming of being a writer far from her poor Chicago neighborhood. But after Olga's death, Julia begins to search for information about her sister, and suddenly the simple narratives she has created about her family begin to unravel. Sánchez paints an evocative portrait of a Mexican American family, effectively capturing the bicultural tensions that can arise from growing up in a different country than did one's parents. The plot occasionally feels overstuffed, as threads about mental illness, gang violence, class, body image, rape, abuse, and suicide are introduced with varying success; and a romantic subplot with an affluent white boy feels shoehorned into the broader narrative. But the depiction of Julia as she processes her losses is hauntingly memorable and noteworthy in its authentic representation of culture and experience too rarely written. christina dobbs Copyright 2018 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 2017 August #1)

Why isn't 15-year-old Julia Reyes a perfect Mexican daughter in her mother's eyes? Mostly because of her older sister, Olga, who puts family first, listens to her parents, and dresses conservatively. Julia, by contrast, argues with her mother, talks back at school, and dreams of becoming a famous writer. When Olga dies suddenly, Julia is left wishing that they had been closer and grieving what she sees as Olga's wasted life. And when she starts to suspect that Olga might not have been so perfect, she follows every clue. Sánchez's debut novel covers a lot of ground, including Julia's day-to-day activities in Chicago, her college ambitions, her first boyfriend (who is white and comes from a wealthy neighborhood), her difficult relationship with her overprotective parents, and her search for Olga's secrets. As the book moves along, Julia's frustration with the many constraints she lives under—poverty, family expectations, and conditioning that she resents but can't quite ignore—reaches dangerous levels. Julia is a sympathetic character, but Sánchez's often expository writing keeps her and her struggles at arm's length. Ages 14–up. Agent: Michelle Brower, Zachary Shuster Harmsworth Literary. (Oct.)

Copyright 2017 Publisher Weekly.

Reviewed by School Library Journal Reviews (SLJ Reviews 2017 September)

Gr 10 Up—Fifteen-year-old outcast Julia Reyes longs to attend college in New York, in order to get away from the suffocating watch of her undocumented Mexican parents in Chicago. The unusual death of Julia's older sister Olga—considered the perfect child by her family—only bolsters this desire, as her parents focus their attention even more strongly on their now only child. When Julia stumbles across unexpected items in Olga's bedroom after the funeral, she sets off on a course to discover her sister's secrets while trying to find some escape from her strict parents. Sánchez makes Julia's unflinching candidness very clear from the start, with the opening sentence providing her stark description of Olga's corpse. This attitude intermittently brings levity to heavy moments, but also heartbreak when the weight of it all comes crashing down. That honesty and heartbreak is skillfully woven throughout, from the authentic portrayal of sacrifices made and challenges faced by immigrants to the clash of traditional versus contemporary practices, and the struggle of first-generation Americans to balance their two cultures. The importance of language, a lens through which Latinxs are often viewed and sharply judged, is brilliantly highlighted through an ample but measured use of Spanish that is often defined in context without feeling forced or awkward. The author interweaves threads related to depression/anxiety, body image, sexuality, rape, suicide, abuse, and gang violence in both the U.S. and Mexico with nuance, while remaining true to the realities of those issues. VERDICT Like Isabel Quintero's Gabi, a Girl in Pieces, sans the diary format, this novel richly explores coming-of-age topics; a timely and must-have account of survival in a culturally contentious world.—Alea Perez, Westmont Public Library, IL

Copyright 2017 School Library Journal.