The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Thank you to NetGalley, Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing and Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers for ARC, The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera. I loved the cover of this debut novel; as soon as I started to read I knew Margot was going to be challenged throughout the book. Why? Because her gorgeous curly hair is straightened in the book by Margot since that is the way her friends from her new prep school wear their hair! Margot has finished her first year and it has been a struggle to get to where she is; she has two friends Camille and Serena, rich and living in big houses and spending their summer in the Hamptons. Margot was invited to spend the summer with her girl squad but she is now working in one of her family’s grocery stores to pay off the credit card debt she incurred when she “took” her father’s credit card and charged $600. Margot is determined to work off her debt and go to the big party at the end of the summer to get with Nick and nothing is going to stop her. Imagine how Margo feels when she meets Moises, setting up a table outside the store to obtain signatures to help old apartment building tenants keep their home. Very conflicted, Margot realizes she is attracted to this activist and he seems to like her too. But Margot will spend her summer fighting this desire since her father & brother forbid it and he doesn’t have the social standing preordained by Margot and her friends. The reader gets an up close and personal look at the diverse world of the South Bronx Margot lives and works in; the employees from the grocery store can barely make a living, her brother has been kicked out of school and now mismanages the store, always looking for a better deal that does not involve the store. Her family is a united front, hiding things from Margot and always concerned with their reputation. As the summer unfolds, Margot will be tested on many levels; in her friendships, family relationships, and those she works with – what kind of person will Margot choose to be? Lilliam Rivera did such a great job crafting Margot’s world of disparity in class, family dynamics and friendships. The characters were many, flawed and trying to eke out an existence. Margot’s South Bronx was in direct contrast to her prep school and the Hamptons. As Margot crashes into this minefield, the reader experiences with her the sexist cultural attitudes of the men (father, brother, workers), the judgments of her friends, and her own slippery slope concerning her existence, her heart, and identity. Teens will love this YA novel that speaks volumes on the drama of finding yourself. Highly recommended.
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