Review: I AM NOT YOUR PERFECT MEXICAN DAUGHTER

This year I’ve successfully finished reading one book. I am not sure yet what my goal is this year as I do want to set a lofty goal but I also want to be realistic. Mulling it over, I think my goal is going to be 26 books. If I go over it? Even better.

Another literary goal I set out for myself is to exclusively read women writers this year.

Last night, I finished reading I AM NOT YOUR PERFECT MEXICAN DAUGHTER by Erika L. Sanchez. I’d venture to say that I finished it in almost one sitting. This book is a beautiful and powerful read. The protagonist, Julia, is multi-dimensional and incredibly well-written. It’s been a decade since I was Julia’s age but her teenage attitude and perspective is completely realistic and it very much took me back to being that age.

Overall, most of the characters in I AM NOT YOUR PERFECT MEXICAN DAUGHTER are fleshed out–even Olga who is the deceased sister. However, Connor fell flat to me. His character initially left a sour taste in my mouth after he asks Julia where she’s really from. I find Connor two-dimensional because I never got a good idea of what his wants or desires were and he was simply a rich kid with not much else.

However, characters like Lorena, Juanga, and of course Julia liven this novel. It’s a wonderful coming-of-age novel and what that can mean in the context of Mexican-American culture. I deeply wish this book had existed when I was a teenager because Julia’s family and mine were very similar.

Furthermore, I love that this book did not shy from mental illness especially because it is often such a taboo subject among Latin American culture. I also appreciated that Julia’s parents did not react in a stereotypical manner to Julia’s depression and anxiety.

In the end, I’d recommend this marvelous novel to anyone both young adult and older.

What will you be reading?

2018 is just around the corner which is incredible! This year has been a packed year for me for many personal reasons both good and bad. I think 2018 will be another exciting and filled year including wedding bells!

There are several books that I am looking forward to reading in 2018. Frankly, the book I am most anticipating is SUICIDE CLUB by Rachel Heng. I am a huge of dystopian fiction and have already read some of Rachel’s short fiction. It doesn’t debut until July but it’s on my list to pre-order.

In February, we have HEART BERRIES: A MEMOIR by Terese Mailhot to look forward to. Roxane Gay has already said wonderful things about this memoir. It’s exciting to see people of color including indigenous folks have a voice and tell their stories.

As a writer who writers short stories, I do love short story collections. I wish that there was more attention given to short stories. Though “Cat Person” became quite a viral short story so hopefully that opens up the dialogue and more people will show interest in our niche. BACK TALK a collection by Danielle Lazarin is set to debut in 2018 as well! It’s a collection of stories about women. I’m making a conscious decision to read more fiction about and by women.

It’s evident I am most focused on emerging writers in contemporary fiction. And there are still several books on my reading shelf that I need to read but it won’t stop me from buying more!

There are of course a plethora of other fiction and nonfiction being published in 2018. I’d love to hear what you are looking forward to reading in 2018!

Review: THE LEAVERS

Just a few days ago, I finished reading THE LEAVERS by Lisa Ko. On the surface, THE LEAVERS is about immigration and the American dream that draws folks from around the world.

But THE LEAVERS is more than an immigrant story. It’s a story about a mother-son relationship. It’s rare to see this relationship shown in novels or film. We often get stories of mothers and daughters or fathers and sons. It’s also a story about identity and belonging. Both Deming and Polly struggle with fitting in their surroundings whether that be in New York, China, or Ridgeborough. That struggle of fitting is exacerbated for Deming when he is adopted by a white family.

Polly is easily my favorite character of THE LEAVERS. She is a flawed woman just like women in real life. She has hopes and dreams that she never gives up and though life has thrown a lot of hardships at her, Polly persevered. In some ways, this novel is about survival. Ultimately, what I loved the most that Polly was portrayed as a mother but she was not defined by motherhood. Polly maintained her own goals, aspirations, and dreams whether it was dreaming of managing the nail salon, moving to Florida, teaching, or the ending which I will not spoil.

The details are rich with imagery and dialogue and the alternating narratives worked well for the novel. This is a wonderful read that I’d recommend to anyone even those who don’t read often as it is not a difficult read but a well-worth one

Happy Book Lovers Day!

Today is Book Lovers Day! This is the first time that I’ve heard of it. To no one’s surprise, I love reading and I love books. I think all things literary should be celebrated. To celebrate this day, I thought I’d write up a quick post with some of my favorite books. Some of these are novels and some may be short story collections.

EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU by Celeste Ng

This is a novel that I still constantly think about. All the characters are flawed in a realistic way. I did sometimes find myself hating James or Marilyn and at other times could relate or at least empathize. I think this novel is a powerful exploration of interracial marriage, racism in the 70s, and parental expectations. I was drawn in from the first page and that interest never wavered.

ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE by Benjamin Alire Sanez

I believe this novel is classified as a young adult novel and it’s a damn good one! The novel follows the titular characters who are both Mexican-American. Ari and Dante are so different from one another as Dante is open about who he is and outwardly confident and Ari doesn’t exhibit those same traits and struggles inwardly with identity. This novel is a great examination of ethnic identity and familial relationships and furthermore an exploration of sexuality. It’s wonderful to see gay men of color represented especially in an ethnic background who are considered ‘macho’. I’m excited for the sequel!

THE GIVER by Lois Lowry

This is a novel I read numerous times. I believe this was the novel that introduced me to dystopia fiction as a child. This novel shows the importance of individuality and memory. Jonas’ realization that the world he lives in is not a utopia coincides with his coming of age. I believe this book is a great stepping stone for young readers that inspires free-thinking and encourages voracious reading.

IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY by Ned Vizzini

Oftentimes we as a society like to tiptoe around mental illness or worse have an incorrect preconceived notion of what it means to have depression. It was refreshing to read a novel where the protagonist had a suicidal episode but the novel wasn’t dreary. It’s important for all of us to remember that having depression doesn’t mean that someone can’t have moments of happiness or laughter. I enjoyed this novel and its characters. I am still saddened that Ned is no longer with us.

OUR STORY BEGINS by Tobias Wolff

Tobias Wolff is by far one of the greatest American short story writers. This particular collection features many of his greatest stories published elsewhere as well as new ones. This collection features one of my favorite short stories BULLET IN THE BRAIN. That story alone shows Wolff’s apt for conciseness and his ability to feature characters with depth.

WOODCUTS OF WOMEN by Dagoberto Gilb

I find Gilb’s colloquial writing incredibly compelling. There are people who view Gilb’s writing as misogynistic but I see this short story collection as an examination of Mexican-American men’s lust and love with women. At heart it’s about relationships between men and women and the complications of that. It’s also about everyday people and everyday life. At no point do I feel that the writer condones some of the characters less savory acts.

 

There are definitely many other books and short story collections I have read that I have devoured and enjoyed but the above are top-notch and I recommend. Of course there are so many other books I want to read. I am currently reading THE LEAVERS by Lisa Ko. I’ve added CHEMISTRY by Weike Wang, LOTERIA by Mario Alberto Zambrano, LOVING PEDRO INFANTE by Denise Chavez, and THE LAST NEANDERTHAL by Claire Cameron to my reading list.

I’m also looking forward to LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE by Celeste Ng out in September and SUICIDE CLUB by Rachel Heng in 2018.

 

Leave your recommendations in the comments.