When Bonny and Carole and I were selecting the next Read With Us book, we were interested in finding something about the Mexican immigrant experience written by a Latinx author.
Several lists pointed us to our eventual pick . . .
But you know what I didn't know when we chose this book?
That it is Young Adult (YA) fiction! A category I generally . . . don't enjoy. But. Here we were. A YA title . . . that we asked you all to Read With Us!
I decided to keep an open mind about our selection. After all, this book is good YA fiction . . . being a finalist for the 2017 National Book Award for Young People's Literature and all. So I decided to read it while channeling my 13-year-old self. Here she is, by the way . . . just to keep things in perspective. (7th grade. Is it a good age for anybody??? Just wondering.)
Before we begin the discussion, though, let's have a little review. What IS YA fiction anyway? And how is it different from adult fiction?
There are 3 main differences:
First, there is the age of the protagonist. Most YA fiction features a protagonist in the 15-19 year-old age group, while protagonists in adult fiction are typically fully-formed adults (at least in their 20s, but often older).
Next, there is voice. While most YA fiction is written by adults, the voice still feels authentic to its younger target audience. The concerns, motivations, and inner thoughts of YA protagonists tend to reflect "teen issues" -- friendships, self-discovery, and separation from parents, for example. The YA narrative voice will usually be more in-the-moment -- more a play-by-play than the retrospective approach we typically see in adult fiction.
Last, we've got themes. This can really blur, because the same themes often occur in both YA and adult fiction. It's just that in YA, those themes (sex, violence, etc.) are not described as explicitly as they might be in adult fiction.
Personally, I tend to find YA kind of dull and predictable. But 13-year-old Kym? She really ate it up! While 13-year-old Kym would have been scandalized by many of the topics and issues in this book (because the 1972 world she lived in was so very different from the modern-day world Julia was navigating), I know that 13-year-old Kym would've loved reading I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter!
Let's get to discussing, shall we? Here's my discussion question:
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter was written to follow Julia’s day to day life. Along the way, the book touches on a multitude of social issues. Which was the most natural to you? Did you enjoy the slice of life nature to Julia’s narrative? Do you think there were too many social issues crammed into this book? Or did it showcase how these issues permeate society?
Please consider this bonus question as well:
Do you think this book was a good representation of the YA fiction genre? And did you judge this book differently than you might if it were adult fiction? Would you have liked this book when YOU were part of the target YA audience?
Please join the discussion by leaving a comment here on the blog. I'll be responding to your comments directly IN the comments, so please do check back once in a while to see how the discussion is going this week. Please feel free to respond to other commenters as well.
Be sure to check out the questions posed by Bonny and Carole today, too! It's our first-ever-three-blog-book-discussion-extravaganza!
Like we did last time, we've got a little bonus for you to participating in the book discussion. We have another “book lovers' surprise package” to be given to one lucky reader! Just leave a comment on any of our book discussion blog posts. Your name will be placed in a hat EACH time you make a comment — so the more you share, express your opinions, and comment, the more chances you have to win the prize. The winner will be revealed as part of our wrap-up post later this month.
And one more thing . . . We'd like to try to organize a Zoom book discussion sometime next week. It's tricky to find the best time, though. Please let us know in the comments if you'd be interested in taking part in a Zoom discussion, any time preferences (morning, afternoon, evening, for example), and if there are any specific days you CAN'T do (Carole can't do Monday evenings, for example, and I can't do Tuesday evenings).
As always, thanks for reading with us!