I can’t look at Amá without thinking about the border, I keep picturing her screaming on the ground, Apá with a gun to his head. I can’t ever tell him that I know. But how do we live with these secrets tied between us? How do we tie our shoes, brush our hair, drink coffee, wash the dishes, and go to sleep, pretending everything is fine? How do we laugh and feel happiness despite the buried things growing inside? How can we do that day after day?

One of the standout books of the year, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter was a book that “flipped” many resistant readers; at least five students shared they had never felt connected to a character while reading like this before. This book was so popular that I never had more than one free copy of it at a time. In addition, it was honored as “Book of the Year” in the yearbook.

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter follows Julia, a fifteen year old Mexican American girl as she grieves the unexpected death of her twenty-two year old sister Olga. As the novel picks up, Julia quickly discovers Olga might not have been the perfect daughter their parents held her up to be.

Various themes are explored throughout this exciting novel – secrets, expectations, cultural differences, romance, and identity. However, Sánchez manages to never feel overly didactic or sappy. Instead, she has written a must-have addition to any library.

Amá took my phone away. I can’t even close my bedroom door because she opens it as soon as I do. When I tell her I need privacy, she laughs and tells me I’ve become too Americanized.

“Privacy! I never have privacy when I was a girl. You kids here think you could do whatever you want” she said.

I don’t even know what she think I might do if I’m alone in the room. There’s no way I’d try touching myself with her yelling and lurking all the time. I don’t even bother looking out the window because all I see is the building next door. I usually lock myself in my closet to cry so my parents don’t hear me. Other times I just lay on my bed, staring at the ceiling, imagining the kind of life I want when I’m older . . . If I tell Amá I’m bored, she tells me to pick up a mop and start cleaning. She doesn’t believe in boredom.

Buy I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter here.

Side note: The passages highlighted in this post were chosen and memorized by students as part of their reader identity project.

 

Posted by:Shannon Jin-a Yi-Lamborn

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