What worked: Right off the bat I totally loved this story. Think Jane The Virgin meets Real Women Have Curves. Julia isn't the stereotypical Latina protagonist. Yes, she is the daughter of Mexican immigrants and lives in the poorer part of Chicago. But the author shows her parents in a more realistic light. Julia's mother at times is overbearing, but readers sees glimpses of her vulnerabilities too. I also loved how Julia's father, though mostly silent, is a father who loves his daughters.
Kuddos for also breaking down the trite stereotypes of Latinos. Julia is smart, loves to read, and wants to go to college. Spanish is sprinkled throughout and shown in a realistic light. As someone who shares Mexican heritage, I loved being able to see a character that mirrors part of my own culture.
There's so many more themes going on in this novel. After her sister's tragic death, Julia searches to find out the 'truth' behind her almost saintly sister. She finds it hard to measure up to Olga. There's so many secrets her family hides from her. The scenes when she's with her grandmother in Mexico, sheds light on Julia's mother and family. There's also a romance between Julia and Connor, a white boy from Evanston. These scenes aren't rushed and also help Julia on her own path to discovery.
Humorous and poignant look at a sister dealing with the loss of her sister and coming to terms with the expectations of not only her Mexican immigrant parents but breaking down the stereotypes around her. A must read for those who love diverse contemporary stories with strong characters.
2. Think Jane The Virgin meets Real Women Have Curves