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I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  48,320 ratings  ·  7,069 reviews
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 shatt
Hardcover, 344 pages
Published October 17th 2017 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
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Taryn Stanley I think it's toxic behavior, and I'm on the line calling it abusive. Her parent's - mostly her mother - behavior does nothing but make her anxiety and…moreI think it's toxic behavior, and I'm on the line calling it abusive. Her parent's - mostly her mother - behavior does nothing but make her anxiety and depression worse. They never really talk to her or ask her how she's actually feeling or what she's interested in, it's almost a continuous comparison to her dead sister, berating her for why she isn't like this and that, and constantly beating her down. I understand reasons why they are this an extent. I don't think it excuses a lot of it considering what Julia does mid way through the novel. (less)
Licha It's the perfect title and I loved this book. My skin is still tingling after reading this.…moreIt's the perfect title and I loved this book. My skin is still tingling after reading this.(less)

Community Reviews

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 ·  48,320 ratings  ·  7,069 reviews

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Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Everyone needs to read this book. I've never felt so connected to a character in my entire life. ...more
Nov 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
“Obnoxious” and “constantly confrontational” would be the best words to describe Julia, the main character and narrator of this novel. I don’t think I really warmed up to her, even after getting to know her better and learning some of the reasons for her attitude . She is not an easy person to like, that’s it. I’ve known people like this in real world. But it’s not really a criticism of the novel. Julia’s personality clashes with her mother’s are a major part of the story. This is a story about ...more
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

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When I was really struggling with my depression as a young woman, someone trying to comfort me actually said something to me that made me feel about a thousand times worse for a really long time. She said that people with depression were "deep, sensitive, caring people" and that we cared too much about others and didn't spend enough time caring about ourselves. It made me feel like trash, because I didn't feel sensitive or caring. I felt
eri b.❀
Jun 10, 2018 rated it did not like it
I wish I knew the right thing to say, but I don’t. I never do.

She never does, indeed.

I don't know where to begin. I read this with high expectations, I must admit, as I always do with books that involve with Mexican culture. But as The Inexplicable Logic of My Life and Gabi, a Girl in Pieces, I ended up disappointed. At least Benjamin Alire Sáenz had some points in his favor, but I just couldn't find any in I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter. It actually made me more angry than disappoi
Yusra  ✨
Olga is dead. Olga, the perfect daughter, one who was both innocent and wore clothes that made her look ugly. She died in a bus accident. She was perfect. She was the perfect daughter .

Now, there is only Julia. Who blames herself for her sisters death, because her mother could have been picking up Olga that day; except she was at Julia’s school, speaking to the principal about another one of Julia’s suspensions.

Truth be told, I didn’t expect to like this because I’m not Mexican and these t
Dave Schaafsma
11/91/21 Re-read for Fall 21 YAL class. I liked it better this third time than in each previous readings, and the class liked it, too.

3/31/20: Read for my spring 2020 Growing Up class, now turning into a pandemic online class.

Original review, 8/29/18: I wasn’t sure what to expect in reading this south side Chicago story, a first YA novel that has been very well-reviewed, and half way into it, was not liking the first person narrator Julia, who is sarcastic, arrogant, volatile, and sometimes dow
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: young-adult, fiction
2.5 rounded down

I have to admit, it took quite a while for me to get into this one. This isn't a particularly long read, but is quite slow paced, and more YA than I was expecting (I'll explain that later!).

The story follows Julia's life in the aftermath of her older sister's sudden death at 22 (not a spoiler, it happens on the first page on the book). Julia is a 15 year old Mexican girl, living in Chicago with her incredibly controlling parents. It is apparent from an early stage that Julia has
Saajid Hosein
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I went into this book with the littlest of expectations, not expecting to be as blown away as I was. This is a gripping, raw story about the haunting nature of grief and absence, about the importance of communicating and being open and about how the loss of a love one force you to find yourself. I am shooketh. I am wigless. My crops have been burnt and I have no sustenance. My heart is as broken as the spines of well worn paper backs. Please read this book, what an excellent way to start off 201 ...more
I ended up enjoying this one a lot! I found Julia’s character the most compelling part of the novel. I loved how Erika Sánchez wrote her – a teenage Mexican American girl who’s bold, independent, and a bit judgmental and someone who grows throughout the course of the novel. At the beginning of the novel, we learn that Julia’s older sister died in a car accident and that Julia’s mother always preferred her older sister’s obedience to Julia’s headstrongness. Sánchez’s characterization of Julia rem ...more
Melissa Stacy
The 2017 YA contemporary novel, "I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter," was a book I wanted to love. I searched bookstore shelves for this title right after the novel's release date, and when I couldn't find it in stock, I put my name on the wait list at the library, and started reading Chapter One as soon as I picked it up.

The main character, however, is equal parts clueless, arrogant, cruel, and balances her character flaws with delusions of grandeur. I could not connect with this Mexican-Am
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

If you follow me, by now you should be well aware that my reaction to “Dirtgate” pretty much amounted to . . . .

However, I am a bitch who puts her money (or library card) where her mouth is and not only read (and loved) American Dirt, but also 100% sought out #ownvoices selections as well. Can’t say that I’ve noticed many of the bandwagon jumpers practicing what they preach and blowing up the intertubes with posts actually discuss
✦ Maica ✦
May 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
But this isn't about you. This is about protecting those who are still here. Why would you want to cause your family more pain?

Actual Rating: 1.5 stars
possible trigger warnings for depression, attempted suicide, and sexual assault

I honestly wanted to love this book but the characters were so unbearable. I wanted to DNF this so many times but I just kept going to see if the characters will get better. The only thing that kept me going was the Mexican culture. I enjoyed seeing how simi
Dec 17, 2017 rated it liked it
I'm mixed on this one. There are elements of Julia's story I can relate to: her overbearing parents, feeling ostracized among her own extended family, the idea that you are not the "norm" for your race. But there are undertones of us vs. them and I feel it isn't developed fully to have it be part of the story.

For example, Julia meets a boy at a bookstore. He is wealthy and white and different from her in each and every way. And yet, they attempt to date and be together. The problem with this tro
Dani (Paperback Wishes)
May 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Look, I am not a perfect Mexican daughter, but neither was my mother nor her mother before her.
That means that while I've always been aware of the ideal girl many mexicans would like me to be, I've never felt that pressure directly myself. Not like Julia.
This book was really incredible in that way. It was a whole portrayal of Mexican culture, the good and bad. There was a beautiful mix of English and Spanish that felt right for the story. The characters were well written and well developed. I
Mar 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020-reads
“Happiness is a dandelion wisp floating through the air that I can’t catch. No matter how hard I try, no matter how fast I run, I just can’t reach it. Even when I think I grasp it, I open my hand and it’s empty.”
It’s not easy to break away from the perceived cultural expectations. It’s not easy to reconcile frequently clashing cultural views - as a first-generation immigrant myself, I’ll tell you that. And so can Julia Reyes, a Mexican-American young woman from Chicago South Side, who feels
Oct 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya
This book is a stunning exploration of what it means to want so much while feeling like you have so little. Sanchez does an excellent job of exploring cultural expectations, socioeconomic issues, and anxiety and depression as a late teen. With so much going on, one would expect the book not to tackle all the issues very well. That is not true of this one -- it is a perfect exploration of how we are all dealing with many things at once, and certainly a great example of intersectional feminism in ...more
Book Riot Community
When Olga is hit and killed by a semi, Julia mourns the loss of not just her sister, but what it might mean for what her life will look like down the road. Olga was quiet, stayed at home, and played the role of “good Mexican daughter.” Julia wants out — she wants more to her life than her Chicago neighborhood or living at home forever like her sister did. She’s a poet and an art lover and wants to make a life out of writing.

Through the process of learning to live without Olga, Julia slowly begin
Gretchen Rubin
I've been meaning to read this blockbuster YA novel for a long time, so was glad that my children's/young-adult literature reading group chose it for our next meeting. I couldn't put it down. ...more
Jun 21, 2022 rated it it was amazing

One of the best coming of age stories of the modern area.

Not only does it touch on so many concerns of today's teens and children of immigrants in general, but Julia was the most accurate depiction of a teenager I've seen in a long time. She's acts exactly how a regular 16 year old would act, meaning well and making the best decisions she can with the limited resources available to her.
Apr 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: my-library
~3 Stars~
I went into this book, skeptical. And honestly, I was right to be so.
After reading it, I didn't feel any sense of closure. They storyline was also alot darker than I expected. I mean, I was hoping for more than the occasional humor.
Half the time I was bored and the other half I was indifferent. I never built any strong ties to the characters or book in general.
As for the portrayal of culture in this book, I thought this was a missed opportunity.
As a Mexican American, I take note tha
Nicole aka FromReading2Dreaming

***3.75 Stars***

This book has to be one of the few books out there that represents what it is like to be a Mexican-American. I haven't read another book that has come close to representing what it is like to a Mexican-American.

The story is about Julia, a girl who wants to go to college, despite having many hurdles that are keeping her from this. The one major issue that I had with this book was how the little summary on the inside co
Rebecca Woodward
Aug 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: finished
This is one of those reads where you liked the storyline and The characters but it’s missing something. I was intrigued by the synopsis of the story more then the actual read.
Ashley Daviau
Oct 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Before I start this review I do have to mention trigger warnings for suicide, cutting and rape. That being said, this book is just so heartbreaking and yet touching at the same time. I felt so many different emotions while reading this that I can’t even begin to list them all. It is a big of a darker story which I wasn’t expecting when I picked it up and it was a very pleasant surprise. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever read before, I was glued to my seat from the very first page, quite literally. ...more
Paige (Illegal in 3 Countries)
See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten! My copy was an eARC I got from the publisher via NetGalley as a staff reviewer for YA Books Central.

Representation: almost everyone is Latinx, specifically Mexican/Mexican-American; A gay character named Juanga is a minor character; Julia attempts suicide, but it is only vaguely described and her recovery from depression is very therapy/medication-positive; Julia is overweight and her family is pretty darn poor

Warning: book has a suicide attempt in it, bu
Apr 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was pretty impressed with this book. I went into it blind (like I do with everything) and I wasn't 100% sure I was going to love it. I couldn't put it down. It reminded me of Mexico and the culture there. I am not Hispanic but my husband was born and raised in Baja Mexico and I met him there. This whole book reminded me of his huge family and their traditions. I loved the references to the women making food all the time and how you go over you eat. There was so much in this book that made me l ...more
Kate Olson
Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
More than deserving of its National Book Award Finalist status, this novel is a stunning story of heritage, family and growing up.

Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

Sanchez has taken a teenage girl and created one of the most relatable characters I have read yet in young adult literature. Julia and her family and the Chicago setting are absolute perfection, and readers will get swept up into both Julia's grief over the loss of her sister, but also her agony about being trapped into
Feb 02, 2022 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
1.5 stars.

I didn't think it was possible for me to hate - yes I'm using that word - a character so much that I physically wanted to shake her for acting like a know-it-all, holier than thou asshole. Ladies, gents, and nonbinaries, allow me to introduce you to my least favorite character of the year. And do you wanna know something else? The story itself also suffered not only from its inconsistencies but from the main character as well.

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter tells the story of Ju
Feb 20, 2022 rated it liked it
It had a lot of good parts, but its impact was flattened by its being a little too episodic, having too many bit-part characters, and its big reveal being predictable.


Adding some more "bullet point" thoughts, since I feel I shortchanged the book by only writing two lines about it:

- The best part of the book was its exploration of familial expectation, particularly in a Catholic family. (The "Mexican" part is outside my experience.) My own Catholic teenagerhood, 40 years ago, had some conflictin
Jul 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-reads
I was quite taken with this book. Is it weird to say it gave me Lady Bird vibes?
Dakota★Magic in Every Book
The synopsis for this book seems a bit misleading. It focuses a lot on the mystery of Julia's recently deceased sister and the secrets she was keeping, but those are only small bits of the story, while the main focus is Julia's mental health and the conflicting desires of her family and their cultural expectations and Julia's desire for a less traditional life.

This book is a really intense look at depression and there is a suicide attempt, so please be aware of those triggers before picking up t
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Erika L. Sánchez is the daughter of Mexican immigrants. A poet, novelist, and essayist, her debut poetry collection, Lessons on Expulsion, was published by Graywolf in July 2017, and was a finalist for the PEN America Open Book Award. Her debut young adult novel, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, published in October 2017 by Knopf Books for Young Readers, is a New York Times Bestseller and a ...more

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