— Book Bites

Author Lilliam Rivera on the importance of Latinx voices and "The Education of Margot Sanchez"

Photo courtesy of the author

Most of us can probably name a time in our teenage-hood when everything felt so frustrating. Our bodies were changing, we were trying to feel accepted, we had unrequited crushes — you name it. Lilliam Rivera fully captures that acute teen angst in The Education of Margot Sanchez.

The novel follows protagonist Margot as she spends the summer working in her dad’s grocery story, to atone for the huge bill she ran up on his credit card. As we continue on this journey with Margot, she falls for a guy, tries hard to hold onto her friends (who are relaxing in the Hamptons), deals with with her family dynamics and super macho older brother – anything starting to sound familiar?

As a form of storytelling, the YA book can offer teens solace in an often turbulent phase of their lives. Rivera definitely found comfort in books and The Education of Margot Sanchez is one way to offer the same support to readers.

“When I was a teen I felt like an outsider, but I was able to connect in the pages of young adult books,” Rivera wrote in an email to HelloGiggles. “I didn’t feel quite alone. I love revisiting those moments in my past and to try to capture that feeling in my writing.”

Yet YA novels continue to transcend their standard age group — just look at the success of The Hunger Games and the recent New York Times bestseller The Hate U Give — and often tackle issues that we deal with well into our adult years. The Education of Margot Sanchez will feel like a familiar story to many children of immigrant parents — or anyone who has balanced multiple identities even while feeling like they never truly belong to one set community.

Photo courtesy of the author

Margot’s story also fills a void: She is a young woman of color. According to the 2015 publishing statistics from the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, only 2.4% of books portrayed Latinx characters.

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