What It’s About:
Julia’s perfect older sister, Olga, suddenly dies in a tragic and unexpected car accident. Julia’s family struggles to come to terms with their loss. Both her parents deal with grief in their own way, and leave Julia to figure out how to process the loss alone. Julia discovers that Olga was hiding a big secret and is determined to uncover the truth.
Living under the shadow of her sister, Julia just can’t measure up to the expectations of her traditional Mexican parents. Everything she wants, her parents either don’t like or can’t understand.
What I liked:
My favorite part of this book is how much of the Mexican culture that I grew up with was represented in this book. I loved how the author portrayed Julia, her immigrant parents, and the blending of the two cultures. I haven’t really come across any contemporary fiction that I could actually see a such a strong reflection of my own life.
Another thing that stood out to me was Julia and her mom’s relationship. The portrayal of a mother-daughter relationship is so realistic. It’s rare to come across a YA book where parents are major characters in general. Julia and her mom are so different from each other, like oil and water. They constantly argue and fight as they struggle to find common ground. Events occur that eventually pushes them to be more empathetic and understanding towards each other.
What I didn’t like:
Julia’s character is not very likable for most of the book. She often comes off as self centered, pessimistic, and apathetic. I struggled with wanting to continue the book. Luckily, I finally reached the point where reason behind her thoughts and behavior is revealed and she slowly transforms to build a better outlook on her life and improved relationships with the people in it.
The storyline of Julia trying to uncover the secret life that Olga had was a little lost on me. On one hand, her investigation does get the story rolling and creates the momentum of the story. On the other, I just didn’t know enough about Olga’s character to care. The book starts with her already having passed, so there was no opportunity to develop any emotional investment in her character.
Overall, the book was worth the read because of the seamless blend of Mexican and American cultures and the complex relationships between the characters. I am always so excited to see diverse characters in YA fiction because for readers of that age, being able to explore your identify and reading stories about characters like you are so important.
I would recommend this book for readers who are interested in:
-immigrant parents and first generation children
-mother – daughter relationships