Sanchez, Erika L. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2017.
Hardcover | $17.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1524700485 | 344 pages | YA Fiction
This is one of those “it’s not you, it’s me” books, as it clearly is well-liked by its target demographic, due to being on YALSA’s (Young Adult Library Services Association) Top Ten list, which is chosen by teens. And there are some reasonably good things about it.
I love how the book taps into several important social issues, like immigration (particularly for undocumented/illegal immigrants and their families), mental health, and toxic relationships, to name a few. While the execution of some of these tied to the characters is a little more iffy, I did appreciate that these were tackled with sensitivity.
I also very much enjoyed the unraveling of Olga’s story. I think it’s fascinating when someone who appears perfect on the outside has hidden demons or ends up involved in a situation you would not expect, and I truly felt sad for what she’d been through by the end of the book.
However, I found the majority of the other characters either uninspiring or insufferable most of the time, and that includes Julia. This is one of those times where I really disliked the first person narration (especially combined with present tense), since the first hundred pages dragged, and the tense relationship with her mother grated on me rather than endearing me to her, since I felt like she didn’t seem like someone worth investing my time in, which is disappointing, since I feel like we would have things in common.
I’m not sure who I would recommend this to. Perhaps a teenager looking for a diverse read? I personally didn’t resonate with it, and I’m not sure if other adults will, but given the teen-voted award, it must have some appeal within its target demographic.