You Should Read This: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter


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.

*I will note that I listened to this book.  Kyla Garcia was a great reader so I encourage you to read however you choose!

Oh man.  Where do I begin?  There are so many great things about this story.  At the heart of this story is Julia.  She is fierce, witty and desperate to break free of the traditions her family force on her.  So what if she does not know how to make tortillas from scratch? She can write a poem that will make your heart feel emotions you did not know you had.  Julia wants more from life than settling for the life her parents want for her.  Her older sister Olga is filling that role already as she is the good daughter.  That all changes when Olga is killed in a terrible accident.  Through this story we observe Julia as she attempts to deal with the expectations that are being forced on her as the surviving daughter.

In this story we explore the traditions of a Mexican family, the life of an immigrant family, mental health, but at its core, this story is about staying true to yourself.  The primary theme is individuality and staying true to yourself even when it is difficult to do so.

Julia is a wonderfully witty narrator.  I loved being immersed in her life and seeing how she overcomes her troubles.  While dealing with the difficult loss of her older sister, Julia is also facing her future.  Julia and her parents have very different ideas of what that future should look like.  Life does not stop for those death leaves behind.  Julia is center stage for her family now.  This is such a worthy read.  Not just for the young adult audience it is intended for but for all readers.  Something will resonate with you.  I am sure of it!

Rightfully so, this book was longlisted for the National Book Award.  It was certainly a well-deserved nomination.  I hope you give it a try!

You Should Read This: My Thoughts on the Brilliant Book Moxie


Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes and hallway harassment. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv’s mom was a punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, so now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. Pretty soon Viv is forging friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, and she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.


So I started this book early in the evening and was finished by 10:30 pm.  I absolutely LOVED everything about it.  I am OBSESSED with this book.  I am jealous that this book was not around when I was sixteen.  It is such an important contribution to the young adult literary world.  Let me explain why.

Vivian Carter is the perfect narrator for this story.  She is extremely likable, intelligent, and does not have a lasting impression on the high school clique spectrum; one can easily relate to her.  She has two healthy and very different female representation in her life.  She stumbled into feminist influence in her own way by going through her mother’s past.  She approached her mantra in her own way.  She started a movement but she allowed all girls to take ownership of it.  She just wanted to be heard.  At times she wavers but then remembers the importance of standing up for what you believe is true.  She thinks about things in a logical way which is very important.

The Moxie “Zine” was a hand drawn newsletter that Vivian used to distribute her female call to arms.  It was not a social media page.  It did not orginate through a group text message.  The only technology involved in spreading the word was a good ole copy machine.  It was purely grassroots and it WORKED.  I loved this.  It shows youth today that something so simple can be so incredibly powerful.  It does not require the rights of a domain name, a social media profile or a screen.  I also loved the design of Moxie.  It was retro, simple and just plain cool.


The most important element of this story is its truth.  There is no doubt in my mind that this Texas high school does exist.  Coincidence that the author Jennifer Mathieu is a Texas high school English teacher?  There are countless high schools across America that forget the average students in their halls that are not athletic.  In Moxie, if you do not play football then you may as well not exist.  This is devastatingly true in most high schools.  Personally, it was very clear that the male sports teams were more favored in my high school.  I can relate to easily disappearing in the halls.  In high school, I did not have a clique, I was an under performing student.  I was not athletic.  I hated most of the “popular” kids.  I saw the phoniness in everything the other kids did.  I observed extreme hypocrisy by the faculty as well as the students.  I was criticized for choosing to leave school early when there were spirit assemblies by faculty and students alike.  I was viewed differently by choosing to not jump fully into the high school experience.  I am now in my thirties and do not regret a second of my quiet “rebellion”.

This is a young adult book but do not let that sway non teens from reading this.  It is a rousing call to arms for ALL ladies.  Whether we are willing to admit it or not, sexism is rampant everywhere.  Young ladies need to learn how to see the injustices in their lives.  They need to learn the right way to fight and stand up for themselves.  Moxie does that.  Sure, some parts are a bit cheesy but it is meant for a teen audience.  The ending is predictable but it does not matter.  Moxie needs to end on the expected outcome.  Justice needs to happen.  We need to see the movement come full circle.  All that matters is that the Moxie girls fought back.


Read it.  Love it.  Live it.  Share it.  You will not be disappointed.  This book needs to be read.  This book needs to get into the hands of those who need the inspiration.  I cannot recommend it enough!

You Should Read This: The Graphic Memoir The Best We Could Do


This is my first book recommendation post!  I am excited to share with you one of the best graphic memoirs I have ever read.  My first official book recommendation is the debut graphic memoir The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui.

This beautifully illustrated and emotional story is an evocative memoir about the search for a better future and a longing for the past. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves.


The first thing that stood out for me was the beautifully, simplistic illustrations.  I was easily drawn in to the images and felt like I was flipping through actual snapshots.  I appreciated the depictions of historical subject matter such as communism and war between North and South Vietnam.  They were easy to follow and provided a powerful method of understanding the issues at hand.  I loved that Bui included drawings of her family from her childhood because it demonstrated the importance of drawing in coping with her difficult childhood. 

The common thread of this memoir is how the experiences of our families have the ability to impact future generations.  This memoir is clearly a tool in negotiating the past, present and future for the author.  Not only is it a history lesson of Vietnam but it is an example of how difficult the life of an immigrant is for not just one generation but for those to come.  It is an example of how proximity does not equal closeness; that the struggle to understand the haunting pasts of others is not meant to be easy. 

23192556_760730215117_523315005_o I have always loved learning about others. However, learning about the lives of others from those who choose to tell their own story is especially poignant.  These are their memories.  They have chosen each word for a reason.  A graphic memoir is especially powerful.  Particularly in The Best We Could Do as Bui is the illustrator as well.  There is no doubt that this was a difficult yet cathartic creation process.  We readers are so fortunate that she has shared the story of her family in such an impactful form of storytelling.