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?
Author: Erika L. Sánchez | Series: None | Format: Audiobook | Narrated by: Kyla Garcia | Length: 9 hours, 41 mins | Publish Date: October 17, 2017 | Genre: YA Contemporary | Literary Awards: National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature (2017) | Rated: ★ ★ ★ ★ | Recommend: Yes
“How do we tie our shoes, brush our hair, drink coffee, wash the dishes, and go to sleep, pretending everything is fine? How do we laugh and feel happiness despite the buried things growing inside? How can we do that day after day?”
I’ve been doing a bad job at letting my readers know which books should have trigger warnings, so I’m going to do one for this book: please be warned that this book has death, and attempted suicide.
This book starts off with the aftermath of Julia’s sister Olga’s death. It wasn’t a pretty death either, and the entire Reyes family is still feeling the effects of what happened. None of Olga’s family was with her when she died, and I think it’s safe to say that she died instantly, so there was no chance to save her. Either way, the Reyes family lost their eldest daughter, and there’s just no healing from it.
See, Olga was the perfect Mexican daughter, according to Julia. Olga stayed at home to be with her parents, went to a community college close to their home in Chicago, cooked and cleaned almost as well as their mother, and was just pretty much better in every single way. According to Julia, anyway. Julia is anything but perfect and is nothing like her older sister. Julia is rude (or at least very, very blunt and can come off as rude), wants to go to college in New York, and can’t cook or clean to save her life. So when Olga dies and her mother starts being even harder on Julia than before, it just seems to come crashing down around her.
“I don’t know why I’ve always been like this, why the smallest things make me ache inside. There’s a poem I read once, titled “The World Is Too Much with Us,” and I guess that is the best way to describe the feeling—the world is too much with me.”
This book is about death and learning how to deal with death. This book shows that time does not always heal all wounds and that sometimes the death of a family member – one that hid secrets up until the day she died – is too difficult to deal with alone. Not only did this book resonate in me because of Julia’s actions later on in the book, but also the Mexican culture that we got to witness throughout this book. I can really see how my Chamorro and Spanish culture is similar to the Mexican culture. I could see my grandma in Julia’s grandma, and my Chamorro family in her Mexican family.
I definitely recommend this one.