Spoiler Free Review: When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole

Title: When No One is Watching

Author:ย Alyssa Cole

Pub. Date:ย September 1st 2020

Genre: Fiction/Suspense/Horror Noir

Format: ALC

Publisher:ย William Morrow

Pages: 368 pages

GOODREADS | BANRES & NOBLES | LIBRO.FM

๐Ÿ–คALC provided by author in exchange for an honest review๐Ÿ–ค

Hi hello, Latinx Brooklynite here๐Ÿ‘‹๐Ÿฝspecifically Williamsburg where gentrification swept through and forever changed the neighborhoods I called home. Alyssa Cole gives us Sydney Green, a Black woman who loves her community in Brooklyn but is seeing it erased with each passing day. Major developers buying houses & converting them into condos. The beautiful brownstones where her neighbors have lived for generations sold. Sydney is feeling very paranoid & questioning the whereabouts of those familiar faces. After experiencing a neighborhood tour where the hostess pointed out ONLY the Caucasian history, Sydney decides to start up her own. Theo, a white newcomer to the neighborhood is experiencing relationship issues. He knows he wants to help Sydney in her research as an ally but has to prove his intentions are good. Theoโ€™s girlfriend is racist & constantly referring to them as superior to the black people in the community theyโ€™ve moved into. We follow Sydney & Theo as they set out in starting up her tour company. There are times where I wondered if Sydney was an unreliable narrator. Sheโ€™s a woman determined not to lose her home or her history. In many ways this book felt like Horror Noir & I LOVED it!!! The Goodreads synopsis mentions the movie Get Out by Director Jordan Peele & thatโ€™s exactly the vibes I got while listening to the audiobook. Loved listening to the excerpts from โ€œThe Hoodโ€ app where many of the โ€œKarenโ€ type characters really displayed their micro-aggressions & were checked by black residents in the neighborhood.

CW: alcohol abuse, sick parent, cheating, gentrification, microagressions, death of a parent, panic attacks, gaslighting, anxiety, abduction attempts, involuntary medical experimentation

I’m no thriller expert and so I won’t pretend to know what makes a good thriller. What I do know is that if you go into this read and treat it as you would a horror, then it will meet those expectations. Otherwise, the plot pacing will seem off which is in large part what many readers have said they found issue with. I urge you to seek out reviews by black content creators who have been vocal about how realistic they found the fear & anxiety Sydney was experiencing. What I can say is that as a Latinx woman who has seen my childhood neighborhood torn down, redesigned and sold to the highest bidder…I found this book extremely relatable. I’ve seen whole families disappear at times rather abruptly after being offered a big check to leave their homes. Other times they’re met with uncooperative landlords who make it so they have no choice but to leave the community.

Gentrification is a complex subject and the ramifications it has on those who experience this won’t be the same for everyone. Sydney is a black woman who is made to feel paranoid. She encounters Theo’s girlfriend Kim who basically spews out any & all microagressions you can think of. What once was familiar territory is now a place where she has to watch over her back. Sydney is also experiencing a higher level of harassment from debt collectors, her stress levels are through the roof. All of which when put together, paints a picture of someone who may or may not be stable. That’s what made this book unputdownable for me! the fact that everything she was experiencing can and HAS happened. That ending was chefs kiss perfection! I smirked and nodded my head up & down as I stood in solidarity. This may be Alyssa Cole’s first book outside of the Romance genre but WOW! it is a solid entry into Horror Noir, I personally am excited to see more genre exploring from this author.


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September 2020 TBR

Fall is absolutely in the air, it’s been a long time since I’ve braved posting a TBR here simply because the past 2 years have been mood reading heavy. Unintentionally this TBR is giving off major fall vibes & I am here LIVING for it! although I’ve found a new love for Summer, the Fall season will always be my one true love. It’s when I do the most reading, rock the cute hoodies, and drink all the seasonal drinks…I’m looking at you Starbucks Irish Cream Cold Brew ๐Ÿ˜‰

By the time this post goes live I’ll be in the process of reading 2 or maybe 3 of these titles, one is definitely an audiobook. All of the titles listed below are eGalleys/ARCS/ALCS I am very thankful to have received & will be trying to review within this month. If I manage to make my way through these, I have a few add-ons to choose from but ummm…


Crazy Stupid Bromance (Bromance Book Club #3) by Lyssa Kayย Adams-Lyssaย Kay Adams can continue writing in this world & I will buy all of her books. Here we follow Noah Logan the unofficial Bromance Book Club member who is a tech savvy nerd/hacker. As with all of these books there’s a guy who is in need of better understanding the female love interest. I’m only 15% into this book & already it’s getting hard to stop reading so fast. I love that we follow the important themes discussed in the previous book with sexual harassment at the work front. The men are still hard at work shedding toxic masculinity seen first hand at the very start when we learn that Liv (previous female love interest) has entrusted all wedding arrangements to her fiancรฉ Braden Mack. Braden has gathered his book club to make paper carnations & GAH! I LOVE these characters so friggin much!

Horrid by Katrina Leno-In the spirit of continuing to read Horror, this could not have come at a better time. Set during the Autumns season we see a girl whose father has passed away & with her mom returns to her home town. Creepy vibes in this house where there’s a “storage”room that runs out to be a little girls bedroom. Our MC also faces bullying in this town & from what I can gather, this may come down to grieving & mental illness or something actually dark & secret. I’m intrigued but will definitely be reading this with the lights on & no my Kindle back light won’t cut it ๐Ÿ™‚

Fable (Fable #1) by Adrienne Young-Pirates are my drug of choice but give me female pirates & now I don’t know how to act. I LOVED Adrienne Young’s Sky in the Deep & jumped at the chance of reading this on Netgalley. After losing her mother to the Sea, our MC is left to be raised by her father who in turn abandons her. Left alone to fend for herself, she sets out to make her way back to her father to convince him that she is worthy of being a member of his crew. What she doesn’t know is that during the time she was away from him, he’s picked up quite the rivals in his trade business. No one is to be trusted & nothing is as it seems…

A Deadly Education (Scholomance # 1) by Naomi Novak-I am about 15% into this book & I in NO way am here to support she who shall NOT be named. However, this book really does feel like the Slytherin story I never got. This I guess in many ways is Dark Academia with a MC who to many will come across as unlikeable. I happen to LOVE this type of character, her inner monologue has me wicked chuckling smh. She has all this dark power within her & can cast some powerful spells but doing that would bring about destruction. While others are working simpler spells to make life easier, she can’t summon anything basic. In many ways she comes across as a Bitter Betty but I can’t help LOVING her!

When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole-Thought this was just a thriller but early reviewers are saying this leans more towards Horror. This is the year where I’ve started to take an interest in horror so I’m here for it! I’ve already started the audiobook via Libro.fm (my referral code) & the narration is A+! set in Brooklyn we meet a MC who is in the midst of watching her neighborhood go through the changes imposed by gentrification or is it? did the neighbors really relocate to the suburbs? I hear our MC may be a bit of an unreliable character & I love me a paranoid MC! here for it!

Kingdom Of The Wicked (Kingdom Of The Wicked #1) by Kerri Maniscalco-My! My! MY! I have yet to read a Kerri Maniscalco but this author has remained intriguing AF to me. Happy to satisfy my curiosity with this tale of twins, one Is gruesomely murdered & the other is left to find her murderer and avenge her death. Somehow, she gets thrown into meeting one of the Princes of Hell who is in charge of investigating the deaths of numerous women?!? Dark Romance?! HELL YES!

Legendborn (Legendborn #1) by Tracy Deonn– Southern Black Girl Magic? sign me up! Queer characters & secret societies within a school setting? with magical weapons? HIGH hopes! early reviews are all leaning towards this being a potential 5 star *fingers crossed*

Wayward Witch (Brooklyn Brujas #3) by Zoraida Cรณrdova– The 3rd book in the Brooklyn Brujas trilogy & we finally getย Rose Mortiz as the main POV! the littlest sister who is a rebel at heart, I’m beyond stoked! won’t go into deets cause spoilers but this is such a awesome Latinx trilogy to get into filled with magic and adventure.


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Spoiler Free Review: Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson

Title: Real Men Knit

Author:ย Kwana Jackson

Pub. Date:ย May 19th. 2020

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Family/Adult Fiction

Format:ย eGalley

Publisher:ย Berkley

Pages:ย 320 Pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLES | AMAZON

Real Men Knitย isย a Contemporary Romance with a family dynamic set in a Harlem knitting shop. After the death of Mama Joy a foster-turned-adoptive mother, we see four brothers struggle to keep the shop open while also dealing with their own lives. We follow Jesse Strong who is the most lax of the brothers as he sets out to prove that he can save the shop. All of the Strong brothers have different perspectives on what should be done with the shop. They see eye to eye only in doubting Jesse can actually pull it off & save the legacy Mama Joy has left in Harlem. Determined & with the help of Kerry Fuller, a friend of the shop who has grown up alongside the Strong brothers…Jesse starts to breathe life back into the shop. All the while, his reputation for being a heartbreaker in Harlem seems to be on pause. For Jesse, its always been Kerry he imagined as “the one” but things have never passed the friendship stage. This is a super slow burn/friends-to-lovers romance that will leave you cheesy smiling by the end. I personally enjoy my romance books to have a bit of meat in their plot but it’s always the books that tackle social issues that I appreciate most. Set in Harlem, there’s social commentary on gentrification & the lack of funding for after school programs in less privileged neighborhoods. The Strong brothers themselves are all men of color from different ethnicities who in their youth were having no luck finding good foster homes. Mama Joy gave these young boys an opportunity in a good home & community where they were able thrive & succeed in life. For this alone, Mama Joy is GOALS! ๐Ÿ–ค

Jesse Strong & brothers are all described as being very attractive and the type to break your heart on any given day of the week. We have Noah the Dancer, Lucas the Fireman, Damian the Corporate Financial Analyst & Jesse who hasn’t really found his calling yet & isn’t really in any rush. Jesse is laid back & non-non-commital both towards relationships and life itself. This is what made Jesse the brother Mama Joy looked over most which in turn motivated him to save the shop she dedicated her life to making a safe haven for many in the community. Kerry Fuller has grown up around the shop & grew attached to the Strong family. Kerry & Jesse are super attracted to each other but also have this big respect for their friendship. In many ways Jesse sees Kerry as off limits because she’s who he’s always considered to be a “good girl” it isn’t until he switches lenses & starts seeing her as a woman that he allows those feelings to take flight. Kerry in turn did manage to get under my skin at times because even though we know she has that Mother hen personality, it just got to be too much at times. I did just want her to back off Jesse at times on the judgment. I also wasn’t with her whole looking down on other females regardless of the nano second of sympathy she offered them.ย Although we primarily follow Jesse & Kerry, we get a healthy dose of all the Strong brothers. Enough to spike my curiosity & want/hope the author gives us separate story arcs for each brother. Well, primarily I’d like Damian & Lucas story arcs *a girl can dream* ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿฝ

It’s been a while since I sunk into a good book with all the feels of a comfy sweater but that’s exactly how this book feels! I felt like an honorary family member in the knitting shop surrounded by brotherly love. I’m hoping this isn’t the last we see from the characters in this story. I may not have fallen in love with Kerry’s character but the supporting characters were EVERYTHING & they were well fleshed out bringing each one to life on the page. This has peaked my interest for their individual back stories & of course I’d love to visit the knitting shop again. All in all I enjoyed reading from the perspective from a fellow native New Yorker & look forward to whatever Kwana Jackson writes next.


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SPOILER FREE REVIEW: PRIDE BY IBI ZOBOI

Title:ย Pride

Author:ย Ibi Zoboi

Pub. Date: September 18th. 2018

Genre:ย YA Contemporary/Re-telling

Publisher:ย Balzer + Bray/Harper

Pages:ย 304

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

ย ย ย ย 

BUSHWICK BROOKLYN MURAL (Photo = link to source)

๐Ÿ–คย ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest reviewย ๐Ÿ–ค

There’s so much good to say about Ibi Zoboi’s Pride and why it’s such a relevant read for readers living in New York City or any major city for that matter. This is a Pride & Prejudice re-telling of sorts or as Zoboi calls it, a ‘Remix’ ๐Ÿ–คย but at its heart it’s a story about one girls love for her neighborhood and the effects of Gentrification. We meet Zuri Benitez, a young Afro-Latina (Haitian-Dominican) who loves slam poetry and everything about Bushwick Brooklyn. Zuri lives with both her parents and three sisters on a city block where everyone knows everyone and they treat each other like family. Her mother nurtures her daughters and the neighbors through her cooking and block parties bring everyone together with food and music.

Things in the neighborhood start to shift when a abandoned house across the street from Zuri gets turned into a mini mansion. Zuri and her sisters watch as movers move in pieces of expensive furniture and artwork all the while wondering what kind of family would be occupying this mansion. Zuri is very protective of her neighborhood and the people who have roots there, meeting this new family has her apprehensive. The Darcy family moves in, mom + dad with their two handsome young black sons. Zuri’s sisters immediately introduce themselves but Zuri isn’t trying to be welcoming. For Zuri, this family moving in means a change in dynamics for her neighborhood. All around her are the remnants of gentrification, changes that have changed the landscape of her home. We follow Zuri and her sisters as they navigate college life, college applications, crushes on cute boys, and their identity within the community they were born and raised in as it transforms.

It wouldn’t be aย Pride & Prejudice remix without the romance of course & that we do get with THE hate-to-love of all ages! ๐Ÿ–คย Zuri may not be acceptant of the Darcy family moving in but she’s also very aware of just how attractive Darius Darcy really is. It’s the pride for the neighborhood she grew up in that keeps her from seeing Darius and his family in a more positive light. Weaved in throughout Pride are themes of Socioeconomic diversity, race, stereotypes, and gentrification that are quite relevant & currently being talked about within many New York City communities.

Ibi Zoboi writes amazing, authentic three dimensional characters with rich voices I just can’t get enough of. Our MC Zuri is passionate about everything & everyone she loves. She values the culture within her community & doesn’t want to see it washed away by gentrification. The dialogue between her and her friends & family felt like home to me as a fellow born & raised Brooklyn native. I love how fiercely protective Zuri is of her sisters and neighbor. Her rose colored glasses have long been gone & she is able to pick up on the stereotypes and issues many in the minority class face. Some of my favorite parts with Zuri are the moments of introspection we get to see through her Slam Poetry.

There are so many characters we meet along the way but I LOVED the focus on family and the relationship between all of the siblings. We get to see Zuri interact and cope with seeing her older sister leave for college while she is in her last year of High School herself. We get some humor & overall silliness from Zuri having to now step up as the big sister in house to her younger twin sisters who are a bit of a handful. Zuri is well loved & respected within her community, her good reputation is something she’s proud of as one of the Benitez girls. The community plays its own character as well as they watch over these girls making sure they stay on the right path.

Last but not least are the Darcy boys who move into a neighborhood they really don’t know much about. Their family is well off financially and were able to buy the mansion across the street from Zuri’s brownstone home. I don’t believe Darius ever truly understood why Zuri was so proud & passionate about her community & in many ways came off as privileged. It wasn’t Zuri’s job to educate him on his surroundings (although that she did MANY times)ย but she often found herself trying to make him see that the walls that make up his home don’t change what’s outside. Realizing the Darcy family moving in does serve as a catalyst for change, is perhaps the toughest thing Zuri has had to face. So many interesting characters bring this Bushwick remix to life! โค

Although we see the Pride & Prejudiceย influence in Pride, this story stands on its own as a modern day tale of maintaining your identity in a ever changing city. There’s so much to appreciate in this story, from the authentic dialogue to the relevant issues currently affecting those who live in major cities. Zuri’s community reminds me of the one I grew up in which is but a few blocks away from Bushwick. Community gatherings & block parties where the parents fed the neighborhood was very real. Looking up and seeing the one Grandmother who watches everyone’s kids & worrying about whether she’s going to tell your parents about that boy/girl she saw you flirting with was VERY real haha! but also, the reality of receiving an offer by a landlord to move you out in order for them to sell to a developer for a lump sum is also VERY real. The neighborhood I grew up in no longer looks like what I remember & the debate on whether that’s a good or bad thing is still going strong. Regardless of it all, home is where your loved ones are & this story although bittersweet is one way of looking at a brighter side of things ๐Ÿ˜‰


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January Wrap-Up & Book Haul

January was a month of quality reads for me. I don’t think I’ve ever had a month where every book I read, I loved. One thing is clear though, I am really enjoying Diverse reads and being able to relate to some of the characters. I am also still on a mission to lower my arc pile with the help of my handy spreadsheet lol & making progress. This however, has not stopped me from acquiring new books cuzzzz i’m a helpless bookworm who can’t resist good deals & steals ๐Ÿ™ˆ๐Ÿ™ˆ๐Ÿ™ˆ annnnnd let’s face it, February doesn’t look like it’s going to be a slow month in the book world either. Yet still, I do plan on mostly picking up those books that I’ve already read & loved in arc form in order to support the authors & cuz If I loved them so much, i’d like to own them ๐Ÿค—๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿค—๐Ÿ˜

I’m very happy that The Bear and the Nightingale & Gilded Cage are solid starters for series. I get to go back to these worlds/characters and see what they’ve been up to & I can’t wait! I also hope to see more from all of these debut authors, they were all seriously noteworthy for many different reasons. I’ve reviewed all and attached the links ๐Ÿ˜‰

January also saw me host my very 1st giveaway (see here) and I am happy with the outcome. The winner of the Owlcrate giveaway was Naz @ย ReadDiverseBooks, check out his wonderfully diverse blog for all things diverse reads! The next giveaway will most likely be in May to celebrate my 1 year blogoversary and there will be 1st, 2nd, & 3rd place prizes ๐Ÿ™‚

 

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ย Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts #1) by Vic Jamesย โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… (5 STARS)

ย American Street by Ibi Zoboiย ย โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… (4STARS)

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden ย ย โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… (5 STARS)

The Education of Margot Sanchezย โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… (4.5 STARS)

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomasย ย โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… (5 STARS)

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*These 3 were Goodreads wins, your girl was a bit lucky this month (thank the Book Gods)

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornallย 

The Story Of ย New Name (Theย Neapolitan Novels #2) by Elena Ferranteย 

The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferranteย 

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The Bear and the Nightingale (the Bear and the Nightingale #1) by Katherine Arden

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasiย 

Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk by Kathleen Rooneyย 

Good As Gone by Amy Gentryย 

Wires and Nerve (Wires and Nerve #1) by Marissa Meyer

City Of Saints & Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson

The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen Hopkins

Arabella of Mars (The Adventures Of Arabella Ashby #1) by David D. Levine

Frost Blood (Frostblood Saga #1) by Elly Blake

History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

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January’s Book Of The Month, I went with Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk and added Good As Gone for $9.99. BOTM gifted their subbies Gillian Flynn’s The Grownup ๐Ÿ™‚

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I purchased these two lovely Book Biff’s from Breanne over at BizzyLittleB, she was very sweet & filled my custom order very quickly. Currently she isn’t taking custom orders due to starting a new school semester but she’ll be back & i’m keeping an eye out for when she does ๐Ÿ˜‰

what-i-watched-bannerunderworldbwposterI managed to squeeze in a movie with the hubby this month. We went to see Underworld Blood Wars & although it was enjoyable we felt it wasn’t the strongest film in the franchise. That’s tough to say cuz I’m a HUGE Underworldย & Kate Beckinsale fan. I’m still not giving up on Underworld & hope that the next one is re-vamped (hehe see what I did there smh).

maxresdefaultOn the TV front, i’ve admittedly fallen behindย on a lot of my shows since they returned from Winter break but the DVR is working over time saving them for me. However, I have returned to one of my faves Vikings Season 4ย (link to IMDB) & i’m once again hooked. Team Lagertha all the way & I really hope they don’t kill off my boo lol ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿผ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿผ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿผ

As has been the case these past couple of months, I’m a bit late with this book haul/wrap-up but i’ve been catching up with some of yours. Seems like for the most part, January was all aboutย getting back in the swing of things. Love seeing how your January went & wish all my bookish peeps happy reading in February <3’s!

 

Review:The Education Of Margot Sanchez

margotThe Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publication Date: February 21st 2017

Format: eGalley

Genre: YA Contemporary

Page Count: 304 pgs

Rating: โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… (4.5 STARS)

Iโ€™d like to thank Simon & Schuster for approving me to receive an eGalley of The Education Of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Pretty in Pink comes to the South Bronx in this bold and romantic coming-of-age novel about dysfunctional families, good and bad choices, and finding the courage to question everything you ever thought you wantedโ€”from debut author Lilliam Rivera.

THINGS/PEOPLE MARGOT HATES:

Mami, for destroying my social life
Papi, for allowing Junior to become a Neanderthal
Junior, for becoming a Neanderthal
This supermarket
Everyone else

After โ€œborrowingโ€ her father’s credit card to finance a more stylish wardrobe, Margot
Sanchez suddenly finds herself grounded. And by grounded, she means working as an indentured servant in her familyโ€™s struggling grocery store to pay off her debts.

With each order of deli meat she slices, Margot can feel her carefully cultivated prep school reputation slipping through her fingers, and sheโ€™s willing to do anything to get out of this punishment. Lie, cheat, and maybe even stealโ€ฆ

Margotโ€™s invitation to the ultimate beach party is within reach and she has no intention of letting her familyโ€™s drama or Moisesโ€”the admittedly good looking but outspoken boy from the neighborhoodโ€”keep her from her goal.

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Ok Guys & Gals, the time has come for me to review this awesome book & I cannot tell you how excited I am to do so! the Goodreads synopsis more than covers the plot so I won’t repeat what’s already up above, instead i’ll touch on some of my fave plot points. The Education Of Margot Sanchez is first & foremost a Own Voices book about a Puerto-Rican family living in the Bronx, New York. Margot’s dad is the owner of two Grocery Stores from which he provides for his wife, son, and daughter. Margot attends a prep school in Manhattan along with the children of wealthy families. Her brother Junior works with their father in the grocery in hopes to one day take over the family business. We start off with Margot getting caught stealing her fathers credit card to order clothes online. Her punishment is to work off the debt in one of the grocery stores throughout the summer. This does not bode well for Margot who has a social life to maintain back in the city if she ever wants to “fit in” with the wealthy kids in her school. We follow Margot’s daily routine as she fulfills her duties in the grocery store by stocking shelves, working in the deli with the meat, and basically handling all of the grunt work. Her dad has every intention of teaching her a lesson but also utilizing her knowledge of social platforms to possibly give the store a new edge. The neighborhood is experiencing Gentrification and the family business is feeling the side effects. Situated next to a college and a new and upcoming food market, the family business can either benefit or be hurt by the change in demographics in their neighborhood. Margot however, could NOT be bothered with these things. Her thoughts are occupied by that guy back in her prep school who may or may not be interested in her and the “friends” she’s made by appearing to be someone she’s not. Margot is pretty much living a double life, something she has learned to do in one way or another by her own family. When Margot meets a guy while working in the grocery store, who is the complete opposite of the guy she’s had her eyes on in prep school…everything she worked so hard to create starts to fall apart. Moises represents everything her family does not want for her & yet he seems so right. This story is about Margot & how certain events lead to her growing up & learning some hard lessons from those she loves most.

characters-bannerI’ll start off with saying what I’ve seen many readers say about Margot…she’s not the nicest, she’s self-absorbed, selfish, deceitful, and ultimately an unlikeable protagonist. However, I understood this to be the whole point in educating her. Margot hasn’t had the best examples at home. Yes, her dad does pay for her to attend a pricey prep school in Manhattan but her values are all screwed up. Her parents marriage is not all that it seems and her brother is going through substance abuse issues. The problem is, there is no communication whatsoever between any of these family members. All is solved by simply not talking about it. On the surface this family appears to have it all but underneath they are hurting and divided. As a Latina woman, my childhood/family set up looked a lot like Margot’s. I experienced first hand what it’s like to look towards Papi (dad) as the bread winner and more than anything wanting to please him with success in school. Both Margot & Junior (son) want to succeed but get lost while trying to please a man who himself was failing. Mami (mom) was pretty much a silent figure in the background but you could feel her pain through her compulsion to keep everything extremely clean & tidy all day every day. I took this as her way of keeping control over something in her life when underneath it was all a giant mess. This family touched me because I was able to relate to their experiences, culture, and pain. This after all is the beauty of reading books by Own voice authors. I still think about this family & wonder whether these fictional characters are ok now…

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The Education Of Margot Sanchez was a light read that I flew through in just under two days. I enjoyed reading from the perspective of a Puerto-Rican family since it truly is rare to come across. This family felt familiar and relatable making this read one that I devoured all the while making comparisons to my own experiences growing up Puerto-Rican. I was pleasantly surprised to see the topic of gentrification play a role in this neighborhood since it’s one that i’ve personally seen have an affect on local mom & pop stores. There are other more serious topics covered in this book however, I feel that mentioning them is very spoilery since when I came across them I was taken aback and was moved by them. Although I know that at it’s core the story is about Margot and her family, I would’ve enjoyed seeing her take on a more hands on approach with the issues & concerns affecting her community as a symptom of gentrification. I do however appreciate how Lilliam Rivera explored the morals and values of this family in a very realistic sense. These characters were deeply flawed and were all weathering internal battles that seeped into their relationships with one another. Sometimes parents don’t always have it right themselves. A lot of times the kids get caught up in the unspoken. Such is the story of Margot & her brother Junior.

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14358410Originally from the Bronx, NYC, Lilliam Rivera is a 2016 Pushcart Prize winner and a 2015 Clarion graduate. She has been awarded fellowships and grants from PEN Center USA, Elizabeth George Foundation, and A Room of Her Own Foundation. Her work has appeared in Tin House, Los Angeles Times, Bellevue Literary Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, Latina, among others. She hosts the Los Angeles-based radio show Literary Soundtrack on Radio Sombra and lives in Los Angeles with her family. Visit her at LilliamRivera.com.