I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

by

Erika L. Sánchez

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Julia Reyes Character Analysis

Julia Reyes is the fiery, ravenous, ambitious, contrarian narrator and protagonist of the novel. A year ahead in school and in possession of wit and smarts beyond her years, Julia’s acute intelligence and love of the world of books marks her as different from the rest of her large, loud, working-class immigrant family—and her black-sheep status, exacerbated by the untimely death of her “perfect” older sister Olga, pushes her further and further into fantasies of moving away and living in New York as a famous writer. Julia resents her parents’ poverty, her mother’s restrictive rules, her working-class neighborhood’s shabbiness and monotony—and in many ways, her sister Olga, for dying and leaving Julia alone, forever in the shadow of Olga’s perfection. Determined to dig up some dirt on Olga, Julia begins going through her sister’s possessions—and discovers that Olga was not who her family thought she was. As she learns more and more about her sister, and eventually discovers that Olga was pregnant at the time of her death with a married man’s child, Julia is forced to reconsider the role secrets and lies have played in her family—and is pushed to the brink of sanity by the burden of keeping her sister’s final secret. Julia, depressed due to inescapable and abject poverty, intense pressure to fill Olga’s shoes, the fear that she won’t get into college, even with the help of her kind English teacher Mr. Ingman, and the failure of her first relationship with a wealthy white boy named Connor, attempts suicide and fails, alerting her parents to just how difficult things are for the sensitive and intense Julia. After a brief outpatient program and a trip to Mexico, where she learns even more of her family’s secrets and reconnects with her roots, Julia returns to Chicago, understanding more about her difficult Amá and aloof Apá and yet determined as ever to escape her circumstances and make the most of the life they’ve given her.

Julia Reyes Quotes in I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

The I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter quotes below are all either spoken by Julia Reyes or refer to Julia Reyes. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Secrets and Lies Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Knopf edition of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter published in 2017.
Chapter 1 Quotes

Saint Olga, the perfect Mexican daughter. Sometimes I wanted to scream at her until something switched on in her brain. But the only time I ever asked her why she didn’t move out or go to a real college, she told me to leave her alone in a voice so weak and brittle, I never wanted to ask her again. Now I’ll never know what Olga would have become. Maybe she would have surprised us all.

Related Characters: Julia Reyes (speaker), Olga Reyes
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:
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Olga’s friend Angie comes running in, looking like she was the one hit by a semi. She’s beautiful, but, damn, is she an ugly crier. Her skin is like a bright pink rag someone has wrung out. As soon as she sees Olga, she starts howling almost worse than Amá. I wish I knew the right thing to say, but I don’t. I never do.

Related Characters: Julia Reyes (speaker), Olga Reyes, Amá/Amparo Montenegro Reyes, Angie
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 4 Quotes

“You know, Julia, you’re always causing trouble, creating problems for your family. Now that she’s dead, all of a sudden you want to know everything about her? You hardly even spoke to her. Why didn’t you ask her anything when she was alive? Maybe you wouldn’t have to be here, asking me questions about her love life.”

Related Characters: Angie (speaker), Julia Reyes, Olga Reyes
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 7 Quotes

The sky is still dark, but it’s beginning to brighten. There are beautiful, faint streaks of orange over the lake. It looks like it’s been cracked open.

I think of Jazmyn’s face when I told her about Olga. Everywhere I go, my sister’s ghost is hovering.

Related Characters: Julia Reyes (speaker), Olga Reyes, Lorena, Juanga, Jazmyn
Page Number: 97
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 10 Quotes

“Sometimes it’s like you think you’re too good for every­thing. You’re too hard on people.” Lorena doesn’t make eye contact.

“That’s because I am too good for everything! You think this is what I want? This sucks. This sucks so hard, I can’t take it sometimes.” I swing my arms, gesturing toward I don’t know what. I’m so angry my ears feel as if they’re on fire.

Related Characters: Julia Reyes (speaker), Lorena (speaker), Juanga
Related Symbols: Food and Hunger
Page Number: 129
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 13 Quotes

Amá just shakes her head. “You know, Julia, maybe if you knew how to behave yourself, to keep your mouth shut, your sister would still be alive. Have you ever thought about that?” She finally says it. She says what her big, sad eyes were telling me all along.

Related Characters: Julia Reyes (speaker), Amá/Amparo Montenegro Reyes (speaker), Olga Reyes
Related Symbols: Julia’s Quinceañera
Page Number: 162
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Chapter 15 Quotes

Connor’s house has a giant wraparound porch and enormous windows. It’s as big as our entire apartment building. Part of me wonders if I should go back home. I feel nervous and start tugging at my hair.

Related Characters: Julia Reyes (speaker), Connor
Page Number: 196
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I walk toward the ice-skating rink as the sky begins to darken. I wish I had a few dollars for a cup of hot chocolate, but I barely have enough to get back on the bus. I’m tired of being broke. I’m tired of feeling like the rest of the world always gets to decide what I can do. I know I should go back home, but I can’t seem to move. I can’t keep going like this anymore. What is the point of living if I can’t ever get what I want?

Related Characters: Julia Reyes (speaker)
Related Symbols: Food and Hunger
Page Number: 210
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 18 Quotes

What if I’m wrong about my sister? What if she was the sweet, boring Olga I always knew her to be? What if I just want to think there was something below the surface? What if, in my own messed-up way, I want her to be less than perfect, so I didn’t feel like such a fuck-up?

Related Characters: Julia Reyes (speaker), Olga Reyes
Page Number: 237
Explanation and Analysis:
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How could I have been so dumb not to notice anything? But then again, how would anyone have known? Olga kept this sealed up and buried like an ancient tomb. My whole life I’ve been considered the bad daughter, while my sister was secretly living another life, the kind of life that would shatter Amá into tiny pieces. I don’t want to be mad at Olga because she’s dead, but I am.

Related Characters: Julia Reyes (speaker), Olga Reyes, Amá/Amparo Montenegro Reyes
Page Number: 240
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 22 Quotes

My body feels like it weighs a thousand pounds. I picture my mother’s face streaked with tears and dirt, my father bowing his head in defeat. “And Olga? What about Olga? She was . . . She was ...” I can’t get the words out.

Tía Fermina clasps her hands to her chest and nods. “See, mija, that’s why I want you to know. So when you and your mother fight, you can see where she’s come from and understand what’s happened to her. She doesn’t mean to hurt you.”

Page Number: 274-275
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The sun begins to set as we finally approach the city. The colors are so beautiful they’re almost violent. I feel a pang in my chest and remember a line from a poem I read a long time ago about terror being the beginning of beauty. Or something like that. I don’t quite remember.

There’s a dead donkey in a field behind a barbwire fence. Its legs are bent and stiff, and its mouth is open, as if it had been smiling when it died. Two vultures circle above it.

Related Characters: Julia Reyes (speaker)
Page Number: 281
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 23 Quotes

I can’t look at Amá without thinking about the border. I keep picturing her screaming on the ground, Apá with a gun to his head. I don’t think I can ever tell her that I know. But how do we live with these secrets locked within us? How do we tie our shoes, brush our hair, drink coffee, wash the dishes, and go to sleep, pretending everything is fine? How do we laugh and feel happiness despite the buried things growing inside? How can we do that day after day?

Page Number: 284-285
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 24 Quotes

“I understand that it hurts, believe me, but this isn’t about you. […] Why would you want to cause your family more pain?

“Because we shouldn’t be living lies,” I say. […] “I’m tired of pretending and letting things blister inside me. Keeping things to myself almost killed me. I don’t want to live like that anymore.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Forget it.” Part of me wonders if Angie is right—who am I to do this to my family?—but I hate this feeling, like the weight of this will make my chest collapse.

Angie wipes the tears from her eyes with her palms. “Some things should never be said out loud, Julia. Can’t you see that?”

Related Characters: Julia Reyes (speaker), Angie (speaker), Olga Reyes, Amá/Amparo Montenegro Reyes, Apá/Rafael Reyes
Page Number: 295-296
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 26 Quotes

“What do I do with this?” I say to myself aloud. “How do I bury this, too?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, how am I going to keep this secret? Why do I have to be the one living with this shit?”

“Please, don’t tell your parents. Olga never wanted to hurt them.”

“Why wouldn’t I? And why should I listen to you?”

“Sometimes it’s best not to tell the truth.”

Page Number: 312
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 27 Quotes

There are times the secrets feel like strangling vines. Is it considered lying when you hold something locked up inside you? What if the information would only cause people pain? Who would benefit from knowing about Olga’s affair and pregnancy? Is it kind or selfish for me to keep this all to myself? Would it be messed up if I said it just so I don’t have to live with it alone? It’s exhausting.

Related Characters: Julia Reyes (speaker), Olga Reyes
Page Number: 314
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 28 Quotes

"She opened the vault, the box in which she kept
herself—old filmstrips of her life, her truth. Broken
feathers, crushed mirrors creating a false gleam. She
takes it all apart, every moment, every lie, every
deception. Everything stops: snapshots of serenity,
beauty, bliss, surface. Things she must dig for in her
mesh of uncertainty, in her darkness, though it still
lies in the wetness of her mouth, the scent of her hair.
She digs and digs in that scarlet box on the day of her
unraveling, the day she comes undone.”

Related Characters: Julia Reyes (speaker), Dr. Cooke
Page Number: 330-331
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 29 Quotes

How can I leave them like this? How can I just live my life and leave them behind? What kind of person does that? Will I ever forgive myself?

“We love you, Julia. We love you so much,” Amá says, and presses some money into my hand. “Para si se te antoja algo,” she says, in case I crave something when I get to New York. “Remember you can come back whenever you want.”

Related Characters: Julia Reyes (speaker), Amá/Amparo Montenegro Reyes (speaker), Apá/Rafael Reyes
Related Symbols: Food and Hunger
Page Number: 338
Explanation and Analysis:
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I still have nightmares about Olga. Sometimes she’s a mermaid again, other times she’s holding her baby, which is often not a baby at all. Usually, it’s a rock, a fish, or even a sack of rags. Though it’s slowed, my guilt still grows like branches. I wonder when it’ll stop, feeling bad for something that’s not my fault. Who knows? Maybe never.

Related Characters: Julia Reyes (speaker), Olga Reyes
Page Number: 339
Explanation and Analysis:
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I pull out Olga’s ultrasound picture from my journal before we land. At times, it looks like an egg. Occasionally, it looks like an eye. The other day I was convinced I could see it pulsing. How can I ever give this to my parents, something else to love, something dead? These last two years I combed and delved through my sister’s life to better understand her, which meant I learned to find pieces of myself—both beautiful and ugly—and how amazing is it that I hold a piece of her right here in my hands?

Page Number: 340
Explanation and Analysis:
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Julia Reyes Character Timeline in I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

The timeline below shows where the character Julia Reyes appears in I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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Julia Reyes and her family are attending the funeral of Julia’s older sister, Olga. As Julia... (full context)
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Julia, who dreams of being a famous writer, was both jealous of and confused by the... (full context)
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Julia isn’t alone in being unable to express emotion about Olga’s death—her father, Apá, also hasn’t... (full context)
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Julia thinks back on the day Olga died, wishing she had been able to keep her... (full context)
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Because Julia got in trouble at school and had to be picked up by Amá on the... (full context)
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Julia can hear her aunts whispering about her, and is relieved when her best friend, Lorena,... (full context)
Chapter 2
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...to the bathroom and eat stale pastries from the funeral. Her behavior begins to worry Julia—Amá is usually clean and put-together, no matter the circumstances. Apá, meanwhile, continues working all day... (full context)
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...over the last couple of weeks, and there is hardly any food in the house. Julia tries to cook for herself, but can’t even make beans right—she’s never learned how to... (full context)
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One afternoon, Julia peeks into her mother’s room and asks if she’s planning on eating or taking a... (full context)
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When Julia arrives home, her mother is sitting in the kitchen sipping some tea, freshly showered. Julia... (full context)
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Whenever Julia can’t sleep lately, she gets out of her own bed and goes to crawl into... (full context)
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...favorite, taking their mother’s side in arguments—of which there have always been many, because of Julia’s contrarian views and feisty personality. Stuck in a thought spiral about all the ways in... (full context)
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Julia gets out of bed and begins going through Olga’s closet. She finds old pictures and... (full context)
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In the morning, Julia wakes up in Olga’s bed. She panics, knowing that if she gets caught in the... (full context)
Chapter 3
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Julia has been grounded for going into Olga’s room—Amá took away her phone and has forbidden... (full context)
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As the school year begins, the only class Julia really enjoys or succeeds in is English, which is taught by the “dorky” but kind... (full context)
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Lately, Julia never knows whether Amá will, on any given day, be in a good mood or... (full context)
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On the day her grounding is lifted, Julia decides to go downtown to The Continental after school to look for some answers about... (full context)
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Julia is hungry and stops at a diner. She only has eight dollars in her pocket,... (full context)
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Julia heads to The Continental, where she shows the front desk associate a picture of Olga... (full context)
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Julia leaves the hotel, but before going home, decides to stop at the art museum to... (full context)
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As Julia rides home on the crowded train, she delights in looking at all the different people... (full context)
Chapter 4
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On Saturday afternoon, Julia tells Amá that she’s going to the library to study—but secretly heads for Angie’s house... (full context)
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At Angie’s house, Julia is welcomed inside by Angie’s mother, Doña Ramona, who is cooking some spicy food. Julia’s... (full context)
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Julia sits down on the bed in Angie’s room, the walls of which are covered with... (full context)
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Julia is intrigued by Angie’s voluntary admission that something was up with Olga’s love life, and... (full context)
Chapter 5
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After school one day, Julia calls Amá and lies to her, telling her she needs to stay late to work... (full context)
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At Lorena’s, Julia and Lorena devour a bag of nacho chips drenched in hot sauce. Even after finishing... (full context)
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Julia tells Lorena about the things she found in Olga’s room—the lingerie and the hotel key... (full context)
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Julia eyes the altar set up in the corner of Lorena’s living room—her mother worships Santa... (full context)
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Lorena offers Julia some weed, and Julia accepts. As the weed kicks in, Lorena feels herself growing “light... (full context)
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The next night, when Amá goes out to her prayer group at church, Julia asks Apá if she can go out with Lorena. The indifferent Apá shrugs, and Julia... (full context)
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At the lake, Lorena and Carlos run off to have sex, leaving Julia alone with Ramiro, who only speaks Spanish. She laments that though she can passably speak... (full context)
Chapter 6
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Amá, Apá, and Julia are getting ready to go to Julia’s cousin Victor’s seventh birthday party—a party that Julia... (full context)
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Tío Bigotes’s house smells, and Julia is overwhelmed by the number of children running wildly in and out of the house.... (full context)
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Julia watches her cousin Vanessa—who, at sixteen, is barely a year older than Julia herself—feed her... (full context)
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Julia heads back inside, where she sits on the sofa and begins reading The Catcher in... (full context)
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That night, Julia has an upsetting dream in which she’s back in Mexico at Mamá Jacinta’s house—but the... (full context)
Chapter 7
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...who is “gay as a rainbow-colored unicorn.” The boy goes by the nickname Juanga, and Julia hates him immediately. In history class, Lorena tells Julia that Juanga has invited them to... (full context)
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Julia brings the fake permission slip home to Amá, who tells Julia she can’t go on... (full context)
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On Friday night—the night of the masquerade—Julia reads in the living room until her parents are asleep, and then stuffs pillows into... (full context)
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At the party in a large warehouse apartment in a trendy neighborhood, Julia finds herself dreaming of having a place like it to herself one day. Juanga and... (full context)
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Julia, stunned, tells Jazmyn that Olga is dead. She is intrigued by the idea that Olga... (full context)
Chapter 8
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One Saturday, Amá, a housecleaner, forces Julia to come work with her cleaning fancy homes in Chicago’s wealthy Lincoln Park neighborhood. There... (full context)
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While cleaning the bedroom, Julia and Amá have a stilted and uneasy conversation, and Amá asks Julia about how she’s... (full context)
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Dr. Scheinberg returns home and thanks the women in practiced Spanish—on their way out, Julia notices that he’s staring appraisingly at Amá’s body. As the women step outside into the... (full context)
Chapter 9
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The school dance is approaching, and though Julia normally wouldn’t go, she’s determined to get to the afterparty, where she hopes she’ll run... (full context)
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The night of the dance, Julia borrows a dress from Lorena, and the two of them go to the event with... (full context)
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After the dance, the girls head to the afterparty—even though Julia knows doing so will get her in trouble with Amá for staying out late. At... (full context)
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The next morning, after receiving her punishment, Julia calculates that she’s spent forty-five percent of the last two years grounded. Though she knows... (full context)
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As the days go by, Julia suffers feelings of self-loathing and struggles with insomnia. She bottles everything up, though, and shares... (full context)
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At home, the tired Apá is soaking his feet on the couch. Julia feels bad for her father, who always told her and Olga how important it was... (full context)
Chapter 10
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...Olga during the holidays, but her absence hovered around everyone. As spring arrives in Chicago, Julia and her classmates get ready for their annual outdoor field trip—a chance for city kids... (full context)
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On the day of the field trip, Julia wanders around with Lorena and Juanga—back from his love affair, and still inseparable from Lorena.... (full context)
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As Juanga, Lorena, and Julia eat, Juanga begins talking about sex, and Lorena teases Julia for being a virgin. Julia... (full context)
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Julia sits alone for a while, and then a classmate named Pasqual approaches her and begins... (full context)
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Julia sits down and pulls out Camus’s The Stranger. She gets lost in the book until... (full context)
Chapter 11
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Julia is barely halfway through the second semester of her junior year, but all she can... (full context)
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One day after school. Julia takes the train to Olga’s drab and dreary community college. She finds the registrar’s building... (full context)
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Julia is furious, and begs the woman to make an exception—the registrar is staunch, though, and... (full context)
Chapter 12
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Julia feels as if the date of her quinceañera is hanging over her “like the blade... (full context)
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One Sunday morning, while Julia is helping Amá put together party favors, the doorbell rings. Julia opens the door and... (full context)
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Julia expresses jealousy over Lorena’s friendship with Juanga, but Lorena begs Julia to have some empathy—Juanga... (full context)
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At a pizza parlor in a nicer neighborhood, Julia orders two slices for herself. When Lorena asks if she’s seriously going to eat them... (full context)
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Lorena encourages Julia to remember that she’s almost out—she’s not going to have to live the way she’s... (full context)
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After taking Lorena home, Julia begins the walk back to her own apartment. On the way, though, a car full... (full context)
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On Monday, Juanga gives Julia the number for one of Jazmyn’s friends. Julia calls the girl, Maribel, and gets Jazmyn’s... (full context)
Chapter 13
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It is the night of Julia’s quinceañera. She is dressed in a “tight and tacky dress covered in frills, ruffles, and... (full context)
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In the bathroom, Lorena and Julia run into Julia’s gossipy Tía Milagros. She greets Julia by remarking that Olga must be... (full context)
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The rest of the night, as Julia dances with boys and greets guests, she can’t stop worrying that Milagros will tell her... (full context)
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When Amá, Apá, and Julia arrive home at their apartment that night, they flick on the lights to find roaches... (full context)
Chapter 14
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After summer break, Julia starts the fall semester of her senior year off by meeting with Mr. Ingman every... (full context)
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As Julia writes her admissions essays, Mr. Ingman encourages her to play up the fact that her... (full context)
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After school gets out early for a half-day one day, Julia takes the train to Wicker Park, where she visits a used bookstore. She has seventeen... (full context)
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After flirting back and forth about their favorite—and least-favorite—books for a few minutes, Julia and the boy, whose name is Connor, introduce themselves to one another. Julia feels an... (full context)
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Connor asks Julia where she’s from, and she tells him she’s from Chicago. When he asks where she’s... (full context)
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Eventually, Julia blurts out that her sister died last year—she tells Connor that though she feels she... (full context)
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A few days later, Julia meets up with Connor in the city again after lying to Amá about a field... (full context)
Chapter 15
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It’s been a year since Olga’s death, and Julia admits that sometimes she still catches herself looking at the front door, waiting for Olga... (full context)
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Julia has been having nightmares about Olga, and intense waking flashbacks to their shared childhood. She... (full context)
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One wintry afternoon, Lorena insists on going sledding in the city with Julia and Juanga. Julia hasn’t hung out with the two of them very much lately, as... (full context)
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Connor has asked to visit Julia in her neighborhood, but she’s embarrassed to bring him around her parents’ roach-infested apartment, so... (full context)
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That Saturday, Connor invites Julia to come to his parents’ house in Evanston. He tells her that they’ll be out... (full context)
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Julia calls Lorena for some advice. Lorena offers Julia only one piece of wisdom: “shave [your]... (full context)
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On Saturday, Julia lies to Amá about going downtown to an art gallery for a school project. Amá... (full context)
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Connor answers the door and invites Julia in, telling her she smells like Mexican food. Julia is “mortified,” but laughs anyway. Connor... (full context)
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While they’re watching videos, Connor tells Julia how beautiful she is. He begins kissing her, and soon he is on top of... (full context)
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When Julia gets back to her apartment, her parents aren’t home, and she’s grateful for the privacy.... (full context)
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Late that night, after Amá and Apá are asleep, Julia gets up and opens the door to Olga’s room. She takes out the laptop, lingerie,... (full context)
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The next afternoon, Julia comes home to find her mother crying on the sofa—the boxes containing Olga’s lingerie are... (full context)
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Julia is grounded big-time—Amá takes away her cell phone, and her only way of contacting Connor... (full context)
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Julia enumerates all the things that are bad in her life—her dead sister, her “shitty neighborhood,”... (full context)
Chapter 16
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Julia isn’t allowed to leave the apartment. After going through the rest of her things, Amá... (full context)
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...goes by, and it is almost as bad as the previous year’s. By the time Julia returns to school she’s so depressed that she can barely make it through a day... (full context)
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One day, after school, Julia decides to take the bus downtown. She’s broke and cold, but needs some time to... (full context)
Chapter 17
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Julia wakes up in a hospital bed with Amá standing over her. She has a horrible... (full context)
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An hour later, Julia is sitting in Dr. Cooke’s office. Dr. Cooke asks Julia about what’s going on in... (full context)
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Julia tells Dr. Cooke that she feels so far away from the life she wants—the things... (full context)
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Dr. Cooke asks Julia more about her parents. Julia discusses the painfully difficult and distrustful relationship she has with... (full context)
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Dr. Cooke tells Julia that she can be discharged from the hospital the next day if she agrees to... (full context)
Chapter 18
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During the movement therapy portion of her outpatient program, Julia’s instructor Ashley asks Julia how she’s feeling. Julia says she’s feeling “snacky.” The other members... (full context)
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...lunch, group therapy, art therapy, individual therapy, and then a “closing circle.” In between sessions, Julia and her fellow patients discuss the things that landed them in the program, how long... (full context)
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That night, at dinner, Amá and Apá tell Julia that they think she should go to Mexico for a little while and spend some... (full context)
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On the last day of the program, Julia sits with Tasha on a break, and they both discuss how tired they are of... (full context)
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On Monday, Julia returns to school. She tries to ignore her classmates’ stares and questions about where she’s... (full context)
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In a therapy session with Dr. Cooke, Dr. Cooke and asks Julia about the day she tried to kill herself. Julia says that everything just became too... (full context)
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That night, Julia sneaks into Olga’s room again to look for more clues. She’s leaving for Mexico in... (full context)
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When Julia finds a piece of paper with random letters and numbers written on it and enters... (full context)
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Julia replaces the laptop under Olga’s bed, knowing there’s no use in taking it to Mamá... (full context)
Chapter 19
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After a bumpy flight to Mexico, Julia lands to find that water has leaked in her carry-on bag, soaking all of her... (full context)
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Julia’s Tío Chucho picks her up from the airport in his rusty and battered pickup truck.... (full context)
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Hours later, Julia—who has fallen asleep for real—wakes up just as Chucho’s car pulls up to Mamá Jacinta’s... (full context)
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Julia’s relatives rush her to the kitchen and feed her a lavish dinner of beans, rice,... (full context)
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The next day, Mamá Jacinta teaches Julia how to cook menudo, a rich dish made from tripe. Though Julia hates Amá’s cooking... (full context)
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Julia asks Mamá Jacinta what she means, and Mamá Jacinta tells Julia about how Amá and... (full context)
Chapter 20
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The next morning, Julia goes into the room which used to be her mother’s bedroom and looks around. She... (full context)
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That night, in bed, Julia lies awake and wonders how long she’ll be in Mexico. She wonders if she’ll ever... (full context)
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Fermina’s oldest daughter Belén is “the town hot girl.” She is not much older than Julia but nearly a foot taller, and dresses in revealing clothing that makes everyone in town... (full context)
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...as the place where a group of narcos—drug lords—beheaded the town mayor years ago. When Julia is shocked by the violence, Belén points out a nearby house that was burned down... (full context)
Chapter 21
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One of Julia’s youngest cousins is turning three years old, and the family has planned a big pig... (full context)
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...wealth, it’s rumored, came from selling drugs—the men are killing the pig for the barbeque. Julia is upset by the display, and Belén calls her a “delicate” American. Determined to prove... (full context)
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The party gets into full swing, and there is dancing and eating as everyone celebrates. Julia’s cousin Andrés, who is just a few years older than her, asks her to come... (full context)
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After Andrés and Julia return to the party, Julia dances with the slightly drunken Tío Chucho and has a... (full context)
Chapter 22
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Though Julia hates sports, she agrees to tag along with Belén to a local soccer match. Halfway... (full context)
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That night, Julia sits with Tía Fermina, Tía Estela, and Tío Chucho in Fermina’s backyard. Julia admires the... (full context)
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The next morning, Julia goes with Tía Fermina to a small market three towns over to buy some special... (full context)
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Fermina tells Julia that there’s a lot she doesn’t understand about her mother, then goes quiet and starts... (full context)
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That night, Julia is distracted by thoughts of her parents and can’t sleep. As the days pass by,... (full context)
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One night, Julia is inside Mamá Jacinta’s house with her grandmother, Belén, and her aunts, watching telenovelas, when... (full context)
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The next day, Tía Fermina performs a cleansing ritual on Julia to get rid of the bad luck and energy from the shooting. She uses an... (full context)
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The narcos have plummeted Los Ojos into violence again, and Mamá Jacinta tells Julia it’s time for her to go home. She books a flight for Julia back to... (full context)
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The next day, Julia meets up with Esteban to say goodbye. He tells her he’ll miss her—but that he... (full context)
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On the bus, as she pulls away from Los Ojos, Julia cries quietly. She has Apá’s drawing of Amá with her, and has promised Mamá Jacinta... (full context)
Chapter 23
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Back in Chicago, Amá picks Julia up from the airport and takes her to a restaurant in Chinatown. Julia can barely... (full context)
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Amá tells Julia that Mr. Ingman called the house last week and said he was worried about Julia... (full context)
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Julia can barely look at Amá without thinking about what she was forced to endure during... (full context)
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When Julia and Amá get back to the apartment, Amá lets Julia have her phone back. When... (full context)
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Julia goes out to the living room to ask Amá if she can go hang out... (full context)
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Because she sees that Amá is making an effort, Julia decides to make one too—and agrees to go along with her mother to her church... (full context)
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That night, once her parents are asleep, Julia uses her key to get back into Olga’s room and finish reading her emails. She... (full context)
Chapter 24
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Julia calls the hotel where Angie works, and, once confirming that Angie’s there, hops on a... (full context)
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At a nearby coffee shop, Julia asks Angie why she didn’t tell Julia the truth. Angie insists that no one would... (full context)
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Julia heads to Wicker Park to meet up with Connor at the bookstore. They don’t hug... (full context)
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As the sun begins to set, Julia asks what happens next. Connor says he isn’t sure—all he knows is that he’s missed... (full context)
Chapter 25
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A lot has happened since Julia left for Mexico. Juanga has a new boyfriend, Mr. Ingman is engaged to another teacher,... (full context)
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Lorena’s test reveals that she’s not pregnant. She and Julia leave the clinic in high spirits, and Lorena says she wants to celebrate. Julia points... (full context)
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Julia tells Lorena the truth about Olga—that she was pregnant when she died, and had been... (full context)
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...Connor in the city. Lorena clearly doesn’t like Connor right off the bat, but when Julia pulls Lorena aside and points out that she was the one who wanted to meet... (full context)
Chapter 26
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After school one day, Julia takes the bus to Olga’s office. She sits in the waiting room, looking at the... (full context)
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When Dr. Castillo comes out of the office, Julia follows him to his car—a shiny black BMW. Just as he’s about to get, in... (full context)
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At the diner, Dr. Castillo tells Julia that he truly loved Olga—and that when Julia’s older, she’ll be able to understand just... (full context)
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...Castillo opens his wallet and takes out a picture—it is a folded-up ultrasound image. As Julia looks at the image, she wonders aloud how she’ll manage to keep this secret. Dr.... (full context)
Chapter 27
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Julia still isn’t sure how to talk to Apá—there’s so much she wants to say to... (full context)
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Since returning from Mexico, Julia has been having weekly sessions with Dr. Cooke. Their “number-one topic” is Julia’s relationship with... (full context)
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Julia’s college acceptance letters begin to arrive. In one afternoon, she gets rejected from Boston University,... (full context)
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The end of the school year approaches, and Julia is growing more and more restless about her impending move to New York. One sunny... (full context)
Chapter 28
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After months of adjusting to her medications and attending sessions with Dr. Cooke, Julia’s depression and anxiety have lessened significantly. She keeps track of her low points in her... (full context)
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After dinner that evening, Amá tries to engage Julia in a talk “about boys.” Though Julia tries to resist the sex talk, Amá tells... (full context)
Chapter 29
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The morning before her flight to New York, Julia calls Freddy and Alicia to tell them she’s headed to NYU. They tell her they’re... (full context)
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...Apá dresses in the same faded blue shirt he was wearing the night he found Julia slitting her wrists. At the sight of the shirt, Julia feels a shameful pang, and... (full context)
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At the airport, Julia bids her parents goodbye as she prepares to enter the security line. She can’t believe... (full context)
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Julia falls asleep on the plane and wakes up to see the New York skyline just... (full context)
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Julia still has nightmares about Olga, and isn’t sure if they’ll ever stop—or if she’ll ever... (full context)