Olga is the perfect Mexican daughter. Julia is not, and she’s okay with that. She’s her own person and she lets her big sister Olga please their parents. Instead, she focuses on understanding her traditional Mexican background and culture and fitting that in with growing up first generation Mexican-American in Chicago. She’s content with her life, that is, until an accident kills Olga and their family is left trying to figure out what to do next. Julia’s parents obviously want her to be their perfect daughter, but that is not something Julia is prepared to be, especially in the shadow of her dead sister. While she navigates her new everyday life feeling the full force of her parent’s disappointment, she starts to learn that Olga may not have been as perfect as she seemed. She goes on to explore the clues she finds to piece together the secret her sister was hiding before she died.
This book focuses on a Latina main character, and the author does a fantastic job of incorporating traditional Spanish phrases and sayings. Finding a Latino main character can be a challenge, and finding one that feels authentic can be even more difficult. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter draws the reader in and gives insight into the lives of children of immigrants and the pressure to live up to their parents expectations of them, and the fear of failure and disappointment. As Julia grows into herself surrounded by two different cultures, customs, and even languages, she needs to decide what is right for her without listening only to her Mexican traditions or the other teenagers around her. That is not an easy line to navigate, and Sanchez demonstrates how difficult it can be by making Julia a disappointment to her parents because she wants to make her own choices, such as moving away for college. While focused on a Latino family, it does shine some light on problems faced by growing up as a part of two worlds, and the pressure to live up to the ideal of the perfect child.
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