Erika L. Sànchez’s I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

Sànchez tells the story of Julia, a rebellious teenager that wants to be a writer. Julia is haunted by the death of her sister Olga who was run over by a bus. Olga essentially becomes that perfect picture image of the lost daughter hanging over the fireplace with a Virgin Mary candle burning eternally underneath. If you’re Latino/a/x, you know what I’m talking about.

The good: I like seeing some Latino/a/x representation in the publishing world, so kuddos to Knopf. The bad: the book is riddled with so many of the modern clichés circling around stories today. In all fairness, I think this book definitely falls under the young reader genre, and I was never particularly fond of the genre. In fact, I am not a huge fan of much of the current literature trends. I was reading Anne Rice’s rich and complex prose and Virginia Wolf’s elaborate, modernist stories as a teen. So, I seem to find the young reader genre, which is a relatively contemporary one, rather patronizing. Nevertheless, Sànchez is definitely up there with Sandra Cisneros level good, so it’s still recommended reading.

“Sometimes it’s best not to tell the truth” (312).

Working in the English Language and Literature Arts has certainly given me a critical eye, one that I often have to put in check and restrain when reaching brutal levels. On the positive side, because of this, I try to remain relatively aware of the current zeitgeist. My experiences have not been all that different from Julia, so I find it difficult to escape into the fantasy of the story. Rather, it’s mildly triggering because it’s too close to my own personal reality. Truthfully, the premise could have been taken straight from some of my journaling. I am not closing my heart to Sànchez just yet though; I think her literary intentions are in the right place, so I hope she develops and complicates her writing in the future a little more.

The quote from the book reminds me of a particular sentiment that seems to be part of first generation high school and college graduates. How much of our American reality and experience should we really reveal to our less acculturated family members? It’s a statement on the flip side of Stephen King’s similar quote: “Liars prosper.” Ah, the field day that moral philosophers can have with quotes and statements like these. It’s a quasi-rye and quasi-dejected reality. Some truths may be true, but also hurtful and unnecessary. Like: I hate my nephew’s red crocks, and I hope he doesn’t read this until he’s hella old. Versus: I can just get him a pair of converse and low-key convince him to switch shoes.

Works Cited

Sanchez, Erika L. I’m Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter. New York, New York: Knopf, 2017. Print.

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