Book Review: The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera

Title: The Education of Margot Sanchez
Author: Lilliam Rivera
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Year: 2017
Ages: YA

Margot Sanchez has to spend the summer working at her parents’ local supermarket because she charged six hundred dollars to her father’s credit card. Margot is a new student at a prestigious preparatory school, Somerset Prep, and has been struggling to fit in. She became friends with Serene and Camille, who according to Margot, are high in the popularity and social ladder. Going to a beach party in the Hamptons at the end of the summer is Margot’s primary goal. She believes it will help her social standing at school and will get her close to Nick. However, the relationship she develops with Moises, a community activist who fights against gentrification in the Bronx, could get in the way of her plan. While Margot works on maintaining a social standing, she learns family secrets that put her world upside down.

The Education of Margot Sanchez is Lilliam Rivera’s acclaimed debut novel. Its central themes are family, fitting in, social classes, gentrification, and hypocrisy. The reader gets immersed in Margot’s web of lies while she tries to fit in with Serena and Camille, who represent the high social classes. The fascinating aspect of this novel for me was reading all the questionable things Margot does to keep up with appearances. I was glad that Rivera brought up the theme of Latino machismo in the story. It brings up to light the double standards women grow up facing within the Latino community. Also, Rivera’s discussion of gentrification is balanced, meaning that it considers both sides of the argument.

I read this novel fast and stayed up till late to finish it. Margot’s story reminds us of the importance of being authentic. Being fake to keep up with social standing and appearances does not fare well in the long run. The best thing anyone can do when establishing relationships with others is being themselves.  

The only thing I did not like about Rivera’s writing is that she did not use acentos in the Spanish words that require them. An example is “No se” instead of writing “No sé.” Either way, I am sure I will read more from Rivera because of her talent fleshing out relevant thematic content to the Latino community.

I would recommend this novel to young adults and adults interested in themes about Latinos, authenticity, social classes, double standards for women, family secrets, and gentrification.

This post is part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs’ Read Around the World Summer Reading Series. It is my first year participating, and I am very excited about this summer reading series because it recommends diverse and multicultural books that allow readers to see the world from different perspectives.
Rating: 4 stars
Where to Find it: Local Library and Amazon

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