Erika L. Sánchez, author of ‘I’m Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter,’ set for Park City appearance
Novelist, essayist and poet Erika L. Sánchez, author of “I’m Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter,” will give a presentation and do a book signing from 7-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 20, at the Park City Library, 1255 Park Ave. The event is free and open to the public. For information, visit http://www.parkcitylibrary.org.
Erika L. Sánchez published her first young adult novel “I’m Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter” in 2017 after years of writing essays and poetry that addressed her experiences of living in the United States as a child of Mexican immigrants and as a woman of color.
The book, which also draws from her bicultural childhood, landed on the New York Times best-seller list and became a National Book Award finalist, which was an honor for Sánchez.
“I always wanted to write a novel, but I didn’t know it would be for young adults,” she said. “As I started to plan the book, it made a lot of sense to market the story towards young people. I wanted it to reach young women, especially. I felt like the young adult genre would be appropriate.”
Sánchez will speak about the book, her career and her life on Thursday, Sept. 20, at the Park City Library, 1255 Park Ave. The author will speak at 7 p.m. and do a book signing at 8 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
“I’m Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter” is about Julia, a rebellious teen who finds out some family secrets after her sister is killed.
“There is a lot of conflict in the story between the protagonist Julia and her family,” Sánchez said. “Her family emigrated from Mexico, and Julia is a very Americanized teen. And that causes a lot of misunderstandings and resentment. I wanted to write a book that connected with young women, especially those who are part of the Latino community.”
There is a lot of Sánchez in Julia, the author said.
“I was a difficult teen,” she said. “I struggled with depression. I had a difficult relationship with my mother, but I never had a sister and I never lost anyone.”
The book also addresses various issues, including mental health and sexuality, all of which was inspired by Sánchez’s life.
“I, myself, struggle with bipolar disorder, and as a person who has some kind of influence, I feel I need to push against the stigma,” she said. “I need to help people know that there is help available and that having mental illness isn’t their fault. I want to be a mental health advocate.”
Sánchez also couldn’t ignore that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2015 that Latino teens have the highest rate of attempted suicide among adolescent groups in the United States.
“This is something that alarms me, because I was suicidal as a teen, and I didn’t know how to ask for help,” Sánchez said. “I want to change this for young Latino women. I want to bring awareness to this issue and let them know that there is help available.”
Julia’s story came together after Sánchez submitted an excerpt to her agent.
Sánchez originally started writing an intergenerational story about a teenager, her mother and her grandmother, before her agent suggested she focus on the teenager.
“As I made the transition, Julia’s voice just came to me. It felt very natural,” Sánchez said.
Writing in itself comes naturally to Sánchez, who started putting pen to paper when she was 12. Her love for the craft clicked after reading the works of Edgar Allen Poe.
“I was very artistic as a kid and had a wild imagination,” she said. “I think writing was the cheapest option for me to create, because all I needed was a piece of paper and something to write with.”
Writing has opened many doors for Sánchez. She is the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship. She was one of four writers invited by the Guild Complex of Chicago to participate in the Kapittel International Festival of Literature and Freedom of Speech in Stavanger, Norway, in 2014.
Sánchez was also a sex and love advice columnist for Cosmopolitan for Latinas for three years, and was awarded the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation.
She was also named a 2017-19 Princeton Arts Fellow and currently teaches writing at Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts.
“It’s funny, I struggled a lot as a writer during my 20s and 30s, but I kept doing it because writing was the one thing I loved,” Sánchez said. “I couldn’t have imagined that I would be a New York Times best-selling author, or teaching at an Ivy League University.”
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