Speaking from the perspective of a teenager from the paleolithic era, and as a mother, educator, and person with experience in life, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter realistically portrays an adolescent who is intellectually maturing and emotionally quaking. Teens – and adults who remember – can relate to the love-hate relationship Julia has with school, her parents, her peers, and her community.
Empathy is learned by walking in someone else’s shoes but also from reading or hearing others’ experiences. Sanchez deftly reveals the limited options available to those who are undocumented, have minimal financial resources, and struggle with racial and class discrimination. Even though I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter addresses many social and diversity issues, Sanchez keeps the focus on the Julia’s personal struggle. Yes, her struggle includes ethnic, gender, and class concerns, but the story is both singular and universal.
Happy Reading, Susan C.
Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintera – Sixteen-year-old Gabi Hernandez chronicles her senior year in high school as she copes with her friend Cindy’s pregnancy, friend Sebastian’s coming out, her father’s meth habit, her own cravings for food and cute boys, and especially, the poetry that helps forge her identity.
The Cholo Tree by Daniel Chacón – Recovering from a shooting and stereotyped as a Chicano gangbanger, fourteen-year-old Victor Reyes loves reading books, has a genius girlfriend and an art teacher who mentors and encourages him to apply to art schools, but Victor cannot seem to overcome society’s expectations for him.
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson – Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else–an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah’s story to tell. The later years are Jude’s. What the twins don’t realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.