I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez
This ARC was provided by Miss Print's ARC Adoption Program in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: 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?
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: I wanted to love this National Book Award finalist so badly, but I didn't. There are a lot of issues with the writing that I am going to explore in this review.
The time jumps in the book are very sudden, and the timeline feels stretched too long (from right after Olga's death to two years later). There's a time/plot gap between chapters 16 and 17, leaving readers to guess what happened until much later in the book. Honestly, the mystery didn't help the book any. Most of the plot doesn't take off until a year after Olga's death, and the plot felt like it was made up of a lot of little details that didn't matter. The characters were all vaguely annoying, and I didn't feel anything in me to root for them, which is kind of hard to achieve actually.
There were so many elements that could've worked - Julia's mental health, her relationship with Connor, the relationship with Olga - but they felt two-dimensional and shoehorned in like puzzle pieces that don't fit together.
The one thing I did like was the setting and culture. It all felt authentic.
There was foul language, on-page sex, underage drinking and drug usage, a suicide attempt, and some other violence. (Honestly this book felt like a giant YA stereotype at times.)
The Verdict: I know enjoyment of a book is subjective, but I'm honestly not sure how this one made it onto the NBA shortlist.
Will I be adding this book to my library?: No.