Authors

  1. Catlin, Anita PhD, FNP, CNL, FAAN

Article Content

Cultural competence is a goal of every practicing nurse. We want to deliver care that is meaningful to each recipient and honor the diversity of their lived experiences. Reading expands the world view we bring as we care for patients and families whose culture and ideology may not resemble our own. Past book review columns in the Journal of Pediatric Surgical Nursing introduced Dani Shapiro's book, Inheritance, the story of an Askenazi Jew, and All American Boys by Reynolds and Kieley, which depicts race relations with police in this country.

 

In this issue, we review Erika Sanchez's young adult novel, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, a finalist for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature in 2017. The novel is told in the voice of 15-year-old Julia, an American-born daughter of undocumented Mexican parents. Her parents had big dreams of life in America but encountered tragedy during their coyote-escorted journey north. Sanchez explores one version of what it is like to grow up Mexican in the United States: poor, loved, and scared of the "migra." Like many families, Julia's family holds many unshared secrets, which she is determined to uncover.

 

The story begins when her older sister, Olga, is killed in Chicago after being hit by a moving truck. Whereas Olga had always been the (seemingly) perfect Mexican daughter, Julia is seen as troublesome for her parents. Julia dresses in unisex clothes, wants to go to college, has a gringo boyfriend, and is unable to "connect" with her parents in the same ways as Olga did. Julia's sadness over her sister's death and her feelings that she does not fit in anywhere led to a suicide attempt, followed by mandated counseling, an American kind of care from strangers that is unsupported by her parents' culture.

 

Her parents' idea of how to help their daughter is to send her "home" to Mexico, which at first Julia interprets as punishment. However, she soon begins to benefit from the extended family closeness and her grandmother's love and acceptance of her, just as she is.

 

As secrets about her parents' and sister's lives are uncovered, and with her counselor's guidance, Julia grows in strength and earns her family's support to live her dreams. This extremely interesting book opens one view to Latino culture in the United States and, in addition, the significant difference one healthcare provider can make in an individual's life. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter is recommended for adolescent readers and all who wish to love and understand them.