2017 National Book Award Finalist, Young People's Literature

Erika L. Sánchez

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, by Erika L. Sánchez Erika L. Sanchez
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
(Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers / Penguin Random House)
ISBN: 9781524700485

National Book Foundation: Where did the idea for this book come from?
Erika L. Sánchez: I wanted to write a coming of age story about a complex girl of color because I never had those kinds of stories when I was young. As Toni Morrison suggested, I wrote the book I needed. I definitely draw upon some of my own experiences, but I didn't want to be tethered to literal truth. When I allowed my imagination to roam free, I found Julia. My hope is that other young women will see themselves in her.
Foundation: What’s your favorite bookstore or library?
Sánchez: One of my favorite bookstores is Women and Children First in Chicago. They are so wonderfully feminist and supportive of writers in the city. I had my poetry release party there and it was magical. They even bought doughnuts for the occasion! I've also seen so many brilliant writers read there, so it holds a special place in my heart.

judges' citation

Part mystery, part love story, part inner quest. In I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, the vibrant teen protagonist struggles to prove who she is not, and in that journey, discovers who she is: stronger, braver, more worthy of loving and living than she ever imagined. Bold new voice Erika L. Sánchez carries us through an amazing exploration of family, grief, and culture, reminding us that we are all flawed, and it is those flaws that make us priceless.

ABOUT THE BOOK (from the publisher)

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?

About the Author

Erika L. Sánchez is a poet, essayist, and novelist. She was the sex and love advice columnist for Cosmopolitan for Latinas for three years, and her writing has appeared in Rolling Stone, Salon, and the Paris Review.  Her debut collection of poetry, Lessons on Expulsion, was published by Graywolf in 2017. She lives in Chicago, not far from the setting of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter.


- WEBSITE: erikalsanchez.com

- TWITTER: @ErikaLSanchez

- FACEBOOK: facebook.com/writererikalsanchez

(Photo credit: Robyn Lindemann)


- Amazon.com

- Barnes & Noble

- IndieBound.org

- iBooks

- WorldCat (Library catalog)