I have been reading so many books that feature second sibling syndrome – which is what I call it – and I have been loving all of them. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter is no exception.
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?
I instantly fell in love with our main character Julia. She is ambitious and entirely clever. Books about sisters are my absolute favorite. Sisterhood will sell me my own soul one day. I am such a sucker for stories with sisters. Even more so with second sibling syndrome. Julia’s narrative is entirely captivating. But what I loved even more so was that this book is operating on so many levels. There’s a really great story, but at the same time there’s so much commentary.
Some of things which were featured in this book were if Julia is really a ‘troublemaker’ or if her actions are merely being called out because she is a young woman At the same time, there is discussion about how womanhood is tied to providing for the family (and also cooking). This book also deals with the fear of being sexually harassed which was at both times extremely heart breaking to read, and also so relatable.
Additionally, Julia’s parents are undocumented so it’s especially timely. (Not to mention, her parents end up being incredibly nuanced as their struggles with their disapora feeling and the sacrifices they made to come to the US are revealed). This portion of the book was emotional, because it puts into perspective their motivation for leaving and gives a little clue into why they have some of the issues or actions in the US.
Julia is fiercely ambitious, and I loved reading about this aspect of her character. She adores books and wants to be a writer. She demands space in a world that is trying to box her in and keep the walls closing in. Not only that, but she deals with having to try to explain privilege to some other characters in the book and that seems to be my life right now. All in all, Julia was extremely relatable to me because of all these reasons, so it made the book even more moving.
Julia is not only a great character (I’m with you about how weird it is to kiss with tongues!), but I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter deals with such an interesting question – do we really need to know everything about the people we love? Will the truth really set us free? In many ways, this is a book that deals with having to come to terms with death and how it reveals truths we never saw. And in other ways, it asks us, do we really need to reveal all the secrets of the dead? Can we really take our secrets to the grave? Above all, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter asks a lot of really important questions, deals with very relatable issues, and has intriguing characters. Check out I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter on Goodreads.