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?
“Happiness is a dandelion wisp floating through the air that I can’t catch. No matter how hard I try, no matter how fast I run, I just can’t reach it. Even when I think I grasp it, I open my hand and it’s empty.”
Erika L. Sánchez, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
I was quite captivated by I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter. Though the YA novel deals with mature themes, I still found it relatable to young people. I honestly wish this book was around when I was a teenager because I was certainly not the perfect Dominican daughter! Growing up my parents were strict and over the top religious just like the protagonist Julia Reyes. As a teen, I would sneak around and do things I was absolutely not allowed to do (like wear pants, curse and listen to secular music). From the beginning of the story, you know Julia’s older sister Olga is dead. Olga was the family’s golden child and extremely different from Julia, who is sassy, unconventional and very defiant. The novel is full of humorous moments that made me laugh out loud. I also enjoyed Sanchez’s witty writing and her excellent job of handling mental illness (a taboo subject in many Latino families). If you are a first generation Latinx, I highly recommend I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter.