A Tragedy Turned Mystery? Introducing: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter | Teen Ink

A Tragedy Turned Mystery? Introducing: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

June 22, 2022
By sherryf2026 BRONZE, Bellevue, Washington
sherryf2026 BRONZE, Bellevue, Washington
3 articles 0 photos 0 comments

In an emotional assurance to a grieving girl, the author asserts, “sometimes in life you don’t get to do what you want to do. Sometimes you have to deal with what’s given to you, shut up, and keep working. That’s it” (Sánchez, 315). Concealed in a captivating dialogue, the author teaches readers an essential life lesson to be valued by audiences of all ages and backgrounds.

Erika Sánchez is a Mexican American author of the young adult novel I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter. She is known for her debut poetry collection Lessons on Expulsion but has since become a poet, essayist, and novelist. A National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature as well as winner of the Tomas Rivera award, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter is a part mystery, part realistic fiction book for young adults. In the book, author Sánchez conveyed that one must appreciate what they have and never assume the identity of someone merely by what they appear to be. Set in a poor Mexican American immigrant neighborhood, 15-year-old Julia Reyes and her family are mourning over the loss of their eldest daughter Olga. As the ideal daughter, 22-year-old Olga takes classes at the community college, lives at home, goes to family events… and cooks steaming, wonderfully sweet, and soft (in other words, delicious) tortillas. Now, facing the harsh reality of her sister's tragic death, Julia strives to find out more about who her sister truly was behind her cover of the perfect daughter. Along the way, her newly found boyfriend Conner (her first “everything”) helps Julia find her unique balance between her Mexican and American identity.

While arguably obnoxious, sarcastic, and “constantly confrontational”, the 15-year-old Mexican American girl models the insecurities and struggles of first-generation immigrants to the United States. Inserted throughout the book are examples of her internal conflict as she tries to find a balance between the Mexican culture that her parents hold on to so strongly and her American identity that she wishes to be. In the book, Julia repeatedly expressed her desires to be an independent writer abroad, whereas her family encouraged her to develop into the “perfect daughter” to replace and honor Olga, whom they have just lost. As an immigrant of a similar age from China, I grasp the struggles that Julia ponders about yet cannot say that I have gone through the same experience. Even as someone who has a memory of immigration that I can remember, this helped broaden horizons, contributing to my growing recommendation of this book

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter rollercoaster of emotions, from its bittersweet beginning to the resilience and stubbornness of characters. In contrast to some classics known and revered by many, it is engaging and jumps into the plot from the start of the story. I would recommend this book to young adults or older audiences because the book may contain inappropriate elements for those of younger ages, specifically vulgar language and implications. In addition, while the author conveys an important theme through the story, it may be difficult to create connections with characters. Throughout the book, Sánchez takes opportunities to shine light on not only what life as an immigrant could be like, but also the despair and struggles aftermath of losing a loved one before you realize they could be gone. As a book meant to spread awareness about mental health struggles and the suicides of teens, particularly Latin American teenage girls, it is a book worth your time if one dedicates to the story.

The author's comments:

Review based off the Young Adult novel, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

Similar Articles


This article has 0 comments.