Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Review: The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera

Pretty in Pink comes to the South Bronx in this bold and romantic coming-of-age novel about dysfunctional families, good and bad choices, and finding the courage to question everything you ever thought you wanted—from debut author Lilliam Rivera.


Mami, for destroying my social life
Papi, for allowing Junior to become a Neanderthal
Junior, for becoming a Neanderthal
This supermarket
Everyone else

After “borrowing” her father's credit card to finance a more stylish wardrobe, Margot
Sanchez suddenly finds herself grounded. And by grounded, she means working as an indentured servant in her family’s struggling grocery store to pay off her debts.

With each order of deli meat she slices, Margot can feel her carefully cultivated prep school reputation slipping through her fingers, and she’s willing to do anything to get out of this punishment. Lie, cheat, and maybe even steal…

Margot’s invitation to the ultimate beach party is within reach and she has no intention of letting her family’s drama or Moises—the admittedly good looking but outspoken boy from the neighborhood—keep her from her goal.

Hardcover, 304 pages
Expected publication: February 21st 2017 by Simon & Schuster 
Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary

Kristine's Thoughts:

** I received an advanced readers copy from Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!**

This book was about a teenage girl named Margot who was trying to fit in with a group of people that were different than her. Although she was fairly well off in her community she had nothing on the other students at the prep school that she was attending. On top of the financial differences, there was also a racial difference. In an effort to fit in with the two girls that Margot desired a friendship with most, she stole her father's credit card to fund a shopping excursion. As a result and punishment for that act, Margot was made to work at the family grocery store for the entire summer to pay off her debt.

There were a lot of things going on in this book. Not only was it a story about right and wrong, it was a story about discovering ones self. Margot had to figure out who she was and where and how she fit in. There was a family drama aspect to it as well as a love triangle of sorts. There were many mistakes made and lessons to be learnt along the way. In theory, it was a great story with many moral lessons for young people...


I'm not sure if I'm getting too old to appreciate the moral and lessons of this book but I feel like it missed the mark slightly. Margot was an extremely hard character to like. She was so selfish that I found it almost painful. I expected her to be selfish in the beginning because that would make sense for where I felt the story was trying to go. My problem is that I never really felt like she outgrew the selfishness. Every time she was working in the grocery store she was slacking, taking off and generally not doing any kind of productive work. I didn't see that behaviour change as the story progressed. The only positive growth came in the last pages of the book which was a little too late to make her likeable.

The "love triangle" fell flat with both boys being underdeveloped and a little boring. They really weren't in the story frequently enough for me to develop an opinion or preference between the two. Their sporadic appearance within the plot just highlighted Margot's immaturity and selfishness as far as I was concerned. Not to mention, the events that occurred at the beach party were never really dealt with and were glazed over.  I felt like there was a huge message and/or lesson for young people that was missed with this, which in turn sent out the wrong message. I found it to be quite sad if I'm being completely honest.

As someone who has already navigated the angst of the teenage years, I feel as though this book lacked that certain something that would make it a valuable read for young people. However, I do feel that young people might enjoy it a little more than I did. I could see where it was trying to go but I just don't think it got there. This is a book that would make for hours and hours of discussions within a book club because it. Reviews are all over the map so I feel like it is a matter of personal taste and I encourage everyone to read it and form their own opinion.


About the Author
Originally from the Bronx, NYC, Lilliam Rivera is a 2016 Pushcart Prize winner and a 2015 Clarion graduate. She has been awarded fellowships and grants from PEN Center USA, Elizabeth George Foundation, and A Room of Her Own Foundation. Her work has appeared in Tin House, Los Angeles Times, Bellevue Literary Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, Latina, among others. She hosts the Los Angeles-based radio show Literary Soundtrack on Radio Sombra and lives in Los Angeles with her family. Visit her at LilliamRivera.com.

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