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    The Education of Margot Sanchez Review

    *this post contains affiliate links*

    This book is the gem that I needed. There are a few books that I find that I gently tug at my heart and punch me in the face at the same time. In simple terms: I adored it.

    If a book can make me cry and laugh, then it’s worth something for me to take an hour of my day to write a whole review about.

    Thank you, Lilliam Rivera, for blessing me this story.

    Okay, I don’t remember how I found this book. I think it was one of the stories recommended when I wanted to buy The Hate U Give. I think I also wanted to find a story in a Spanish speaking community because I was taking Spanish last semester—the Fall. A few days later, I bought the book from Amazon and promised to read it…one day, which was a few weeks ago.

    So let’s dive into the review.

    If you’re looking for a story that touches on social issues and the blending of two different cultures, then this is the story for you. I personally am huge on social issues, but I’m not a social activist or anything. However, the merging of two cultures interests me. (I took anthology my freshman year of uni and there is a word to describe this). I also liked the cover. This is one of the few covers I’ve seen with a girl with textured or curly hair.

    Also, The Spanish words weren’t italicized. How amazing is that? My semester of an intense Spanish class has finally paid off. I found this so heart-warming. I understood it perfectly, so I don’t want to hear that it took you literally a second to Google the words. It’s not a problem; it’s perfect.

    The Education of Margot Sanchez is what is needed in the Young Adult genre. This story doesn’t hammer on the social issues that it addresses but shows how it affects communities. There are family dynamics, generational gaps, assimilation, classism, and toxic friendship. There was no preachy-ness of these issues. Now, there is one thing that I do not like is preachy-ness. It’s a major turn off.

    TEOMS gives a look into the world of a teenage girl switching in and out of two worlds, both cultural and economically. Margot attends Somerset, an elite private school, where she is the only Latina. In order to fit in, Margot has to manipulate her looks and personality. In doing so, Margot ends up stealing her father’s credit card to purchase clothes. She gets caught and landing her summer working at the first supermarket her father opened located in the Bronx.

    The Best of Both Worlds

    Hannah Montana Intro / Giphy.com

    We are shown the two worlds of Margot Sanchez: the girl from Somerset Prep and the girl from the Bronx. Margot juggles between these two worlds throughout the story. She learns from her experiences while working in the Bronx. Her views are different from most people. She is also seen as a preppy, clueless daddy’s girl from a few of the cashiers. Meanwhile, at Somerset, she’s the follower of two of the popular girls and is a shadow.

    This aspect of the story is my favorite. I relate to it so much. Growing up I had to manage two sides of me and as adolescency came, so did the abrupt shift and overthinking of upholding an image from two different groups. I grew up believing that I was not black enough because I didn’t speak a certain way, had a white stepfather, and behaved just a different way from everyone else. I never fit in with the other black kids. My favorite genre was pop and punk-pop. Growing up, I had a One Direction sweatshirt and wore it proudly like a crown. I also wasn’t white enough either. I still was a light-skinned black girl at the end of the day.

    There was never a blend. I had my white friends and my black friends. Two entirely different worlds. It was hard to juggle. Still to this day at 20, I cope with it. Now in college, I have to behave differently, but now, I try to be myself no matter who is around.

    I noticed that Margot also says it that it was difficult for her to switch from the two worlds. Her friends weren’t going to approve of her friends from the Bronx. She had to look the part and silence herself. She would straighten her naturally curly hair whenever she goes to Somerset. It’s simply assimilation. There is a section, where Margot explains why she does it. It also is a part of high school as well. Fitting in is something that everyone wants, but for most POC it’s even harder to fit because we don’t look like our white counterparts.

    Margot attends an affluent private school. She’s the only Latina girl. Her best friends are some of the most popular girls in school, so she has to minimize herself. She says, “I revert to what I’m meant to do whenever I’m around Camille—be her praising puppy.”

    Friendships

    Speaking of friends, I love the friendship dynamic. Margot’s friends from Somerset, Serena and Camille, are the typical mean girls but with baggage. Camille is clearly the Regina George out of the two, while Serena is simply her Gretchen Weiners. Add in the cringe commentary that most obvious white friends do and Camille’s faux accent around Margot. It’s so realistic and it’s brings so many memories.

    Also being the POC friend feels like a chore, especially for Margot. It’s evident throughout the book. Sure, she likes being their friend but she always feels like a second thought. “Camille approves because this is also what I’m good for—entertainment.”

    I like this culture shift in her friends. On the other end of the spectrum, Margot has a friend from her childhood named Elizabeth. She’s an artist and always there for Margot even when Margot isn’t. Elizabeth and Margot lost connection when she started attending Somerset. It’s typical for teens to do that. I lost connection with some of my friends when I started attending a different school. It’s natural, however, Elizabeth and Margot’s friendship was more solid and didn’t falter into a pure acquaintance and awkward smiles when running into each other every once in a blue moon. They grew up together and hung out almost every day.

    The distance grows and shrinks throughout the story. Elizabeth is the only person that Margot can trust when she finds out a huge secret about her father. She said that she couldn’t trust Serena and Camille with it because “Elizabeth won’t judge.” Then Elizabeth says a few pages down after Margot snaps at her for not reacting enough that Margot uses her and is ashamed of her around her Somerset friends.

    Margot’s two worlds can not cross. It’s the same for many of us. We realize that the worlds contrast too much that it’s impossible to merge them.

    Margot’s Narration

    This book is funny. Hands down. I was giggling and snorting at some parts. I love Margot’s narration. She reminds me of a character I’m writing right now for one of WIPs. She is literally the character I needed. Margot isn’t a perfect girl; she is portrayed as one, which I greatly appreciate. I’m tired of reading about the same MC. Margot was the gem that was hidden behind all the rocks.

    Lately, I realized that a lot of Young Adult MC narratives are so bland and meets “I’m-insecure-and-I’m-not-like-other-girls” criteria. When I was 15-17, I had a borderline superior complex about being different and having the best taste in music and not being like everyone else.

    Eye Roll / Giphy.com

    You know what I mean.

    Margot’s narration is how most characters should be. It’s unique and memorable. This is how a normal teenage girl thinks. This brought me back to my high school days, even though that was only a year and a half ago.

    Romance Isn’t the Focal Point

    I appreciate Young Adult stories that juggle more than the MC and their love interest. There are so many family dymaics and friendship that can be explored. I personally find those more interesting than romance.

    However, Margot does have two love interest, both very different from the other.

    We have Nick, a guy from Somerset that Margot has her eyes on for a while. The only drive for her to work at her father’s supermarket the whole summer is so she can show how much she matured and learned, just so she could go to Nick’s party in the Hamptons. Nick is rich and cute. I didn’t pick up on any other traits than that. Sorry.

    Then, we have Moises, who is from the Bronx with tons of baggage. He is an activist and active in his community. Margot meets him thanks to his little table outside of the supermarket on one of her first days. Moises brings out a less uptight Margot throughout the book. She’s most laid back and maybe even herself.

    Margot didn’t stop her world—well, kind of at one point— for either of them. In the end, she chooses the right path for herself. Her mission changes by the end of the story to focus on herself.

    La Familia

    Margot’s relationship with her family is a huge moving point in the story. I’d have to say that it is the main focus. Aside from her juggling life from the Bronx and Somerset, her family plays a huge part of her identity. Margot’s parents are Puerto Rican. Her mother is an Afro-Latina, who was the last of her sisters to marry, and was taunted when she was younger because of her darker skin. Margot’s father moved away from the island to open up a business. Margo’s older brother, Junior, is an ex-college athlete who lost his scholarship and now helps out around the Sanchez’s Supermarket.

    The Sanchez’s are the modern typical family. The pressure that Margot holds is so relatable because she’s the youngest and is expected to success. Sure, her father calls her “Princessa” but she is punished for her actions. By the end of the story, it breaks me how much this family goes through. I fell in love with them. Then they broke my heart.

    The relationships between Margot and her parents contrast deeply. Her mother is often unemotionally, ignoring her own problems, and tries to protect his perfect image that they hold in the neighborhood.  By the end, she grows as a character.

    There is not much that irked me so much while reading that I remembered two weeks later. I wished there was more about the characters from Margot’s school, Somerset. I wanted more from that side of Margot’s world. We only get the party scene and the conversations with Camille and Serena. This is probably the Pick-A-Poppy tween in me wanting to know the social hierarchy there and who’s dating who. Yeah, all of that.

    I recommend this story to anyone who grew up code-switching and assimilating between two different worlds. It’s a great story with enough drama and heart-warming moments.

    Book Reviews, Books

    Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Book Review

     

    This blog post includes affiliate links.

     

     

    Leigh Bardugo has done it again. I fell in love with the Grishaverse when I read the Grisha Trilogy, or Shadow and Bone series. It’s truly one of my favorite Young Adult series.

    Here is the link to the Grishaverse website. Yeah, you’re welcome.

    I ended up finding out about Six of Crows while searching for a story with multiple points of views in 3rd person. I personally find it difficult to find a Young Adult story that’s not written in 1st person. However, I think I ended up buying Young Elites because I mixed up the titles and the dark covers. After doing some more research, I decided to read the Grisha Trilogy first.

    So, it’s been a long time waiting to read this story. I, then, got involved with the fandom, and everyone kept talking about Six of Crows. The anticipation was real.

    Arrested Development. / Giphy.com

    After reading the whole Grisha trilogy, within a month, I began Shadow and Bone during finals weeks on my Kindle app. While reading it, my friend and I went to Barnes and Noble’s to study, but I walked out with all three books in a nice plastic bag. The books republished with new covers recently.

    But Six of Crows is totally different from Shadow and Bone. Leigh’s writing definitely grew up from Shadow and Bone. She said expanded her own universe, gave each character depth, and pulled off a multiple 3rd POV so well.

    So let’s get down to the basics of Six of Crows.

    Six of Crows takes place on the harbor city of Ketterdam, a bustling trading spot in the sea. Our main characters are sent on an action-packed mission to capture the scientist beyond a Grisha drug, called jurda. The reward to risk their lives? 30 million kergs.

    Yes, this story normally would not be a typical read for me. I’m not a huge action person, but I’ve heard raved reviews and many recommendations, and I love the Grishaverse.

     

    Things I Loved:

    There was never a dull moment. Most action-packed YA stories elongate the action. Sure the first chapter was off-putting and seemed off, but it catches up with the story a few chapters down the line. Once the story kicked off, it didn’t stop, even at the end. I was on the edge of my seat with some scenes.

    Then that ending just ripped my heart out. I was in bed and dropped the book. It was like a punch to the face to me and the gang.

    BARDUGO’S BANTER.

    If there is one thing I have to choose to learn how to do from Leigh Bardugo is how to write some clever dialogue and banter between her characters. Dialogue pushed this story. I love Kaz’s cunning quotes and Inej’s spirituality, and Jesper’s jokes. I found myself laughing at the tension between Nina and Matthais. Then poor Wylan…poor baby.

    Each Character Has a Background.

    Okay, think about it. Our protagonists are seen as criminals in their world. They’re not the typical YA main characters. Barudgo gives each character a background, which I applaud her for. Most YA stories introduce characters to us without the complexity. Place the characters’ criminal background aside, if they were normal citizens, they’d still be complex. I love when authors put readers in places and in the minds of unstereotypical characters.

    Kaz, the leader of the Gregs, a prominent gang in Ketterdam, is feared by many and money hungry. (He’s a Capricorn, I’m calling it now.) Yet he hates the feeling of being touch and wears gloves. He comes from a terrible childhood, where he lost his parents and later his brother. Kaz also, no matter how hard he tries to be cold-hearted, has a soft spot for Inej. He “protects his investments.”

    I mean, my favorite scene is in Chapter 13 when Kaz rips a guy’s eye out because he stabbed Inej.

    Not Laughing/ Giphy.com

    (^me, the whole time, trying not to laugh)

    Like Kaz lost his sh*t. Cruel and dark that moment was, but it shows how much Kaz truly cares for Inej. Sure, he sees her as an investment, but throughout the rest of the story, she’s always on his mind.

    Speaking of Inej, I really love her character. I loved all the main characters, but Inej stole the cake for me. Being one of the two girls in the main cast, I was drawn to her. Inej reminds me of a cat, and I love cats. She’s spiritual, yet strong headed.

    Worldbuilding

    So I’m pretty familar with the Grishaverse since I read the first trilogy. I haven’t read The Language of Thorns yet. It’s on my Kindle but that’s going to be a long time because I can not read a book on the Kindle within a week or even two.

    Bardugo expanded her world by introducing us to the harbor of Kerch and the cold landscape of Fjerda. She has created this world of magic, and balances it.

    The Crew’s Ages:

    I don’t have much to dislike about this story. I love Bardugo’s writing style and the whole Grishaverse. But I have a few critiques.

    This is a common critique about Six of Crows. The characters are 16-17 years old. 1.) I appalud them for surviving this mission because I know that when I was 16, I wouldn’t have made it past the meeting Kaz had. I would have sat there and cried.

    Of course, it’s hard to believe that these teens can go on this dangerous mission be assigned it by a government official and actually get back home with their target. But I can also see how it can work.

    Kaz, even though he joined the Dregs at 12 years old and had plenty of street smarts and experience, was double-crossed by Van Eck. There was some naivety from a young age from that mistake.

    Matthias and Nina both were in service to their countries from a young age as well. Inej was taken from her family. Wylan was kicked out of his home. Jesper left his home then joined the Dregs to gain an income.

    These characters had to grow up quicker than a normal teenager in a first world country.

     

    I Took Too Long

    Giphy.com

    I disliked that I took a whole month to read this story. It shouldn’t have taken me that long. Since I waited so long to finish it, I couldn’t enjoy Six of Crows as much as I wanted. Every time I read this book, I was laughing and smiling. I was enjoying myself, but they were sporadic. It is difficult for me to keep up with the stories, along with reading for school.

    I didn’t receive that drained feeling or felt a deep emotion after finishing the story.

     

     

    But I can not wait for the Netflix adaption to be come out. There is no exact date at the moment, but I am excited.

    Book Reviews

    Book Review: The Young Elites by Marie Lu

    Not Worth The Hype | 2.5 Stars

    Here’s my Goodreads Review

    During the summer of 2018, I stumbled into my campus’s Barnes & Nobles, looking for the book recommended because I wanted to find a story written in multiple POVs. I spent $11 on The Young Elites.

    However, my friend told me that she couldn’t get past a good 1/3 of the story because of the MC’s narration. I ignored her comments and dove right into this book.

    It took 4 months. 4 long months for me to finish this story. Two DNFs. I finished reading the Young Elites.

    *sighs*

    Young Elites is one of those Young Adult stories with the “Chosen One” tropes. The main character, Adelina, is the only one in her family with the remnants of a blood fever that took her mother. Her sister, Violetta, contracted the disease as well, but she did not have the markings like Adelina. After discovering her powers, she is taken on a journey.

    A lot of Goodreads reviews hyped this story up. I was excited to read from the point of view from a darker character and she’s a girl? she’s a POC? and she’s a badass?

    I’m sold.

    However, it took me 4 months to finish the first chapter. Not only from the story itself, but I’m in college and I have a tough time getting past the first chapter of a story.

    What I Like:

    1. Diversity
    2. Multiple POVs
    3. Names

    I truly believe in diversity in literature because when I was younger I would read stories where the characters looked the same, acted the same, and were the same. One of the reasons I write is because I want to create diverse characters.

    Marie Lu is phenomenal at creating diverse characters. I was not expecting that much diversity, so I was surprised. I think most of the characters are not straight. Most are of various skin tones.

    When I first bought The Young Elites, I was rewriting one of my stories and needed to read up on multiple points of views. It’s not easy. Trust me, I spent many nights, scratching my head, trying to figure it out. Marie Lu tied the story together cohesively with her use of multiple POVs. I especially liked Teren’s narrative.

    I’m a sucker for creative names. Names ending in A’s are on the top of my list. Adelina, Violetta, Giulietta, but Raffaele is my favorite. It’s so unique.

    Beyond this point, there are a lot of spoilers. 

    Read more…