The Education of Margot Sanchez
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know The Education of Margot Sanchez is about a teen girl trying to figure out how to straddle two worlds: her exclusive prep school with it's rich status-oriented kids and the Bronx neighborhood where her family owns two supermarkets. Margot lies and steals to try to fit in with her school friends. She also tries to distance herself from her Bronx roots and cultural heritage. This leads to conflicts with friends and families. Over the summer, when she has to work at her family's store, she grapples with romance, family, honesty, and identity. Most of the book takes place in a Puerto Rican neighborhood in the Bronx. Characters talk tough, get into fights, and swear. Margot struggles against the male-dominated patriarchal culture of the neighborhood. There's some drinking and implied drug use. Characters swear, including "f--k," "s--t," and "bitch." Important teen themes of status and trying to fit in figure largely in the book.
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What's the Story?
In THE EDUCATION OF MARGOT SANCHEZ, Margot is stuck working at one of her parents' Bronx supermarkets for the summer. She used her father's credit card without permission in an attempt to impress her wealthy prep school friends. Now she has to work off the money she spent, plus expenses for the coming school year, while her school friends are partying in the Hamptons. Yearning to be a part of that high-flying, rich-kid world and leave the streets of her Puerto Rican Bronx neighborhood behind, she dresses like Taylor Swift, straightens her hair, and takes all the edge out of her personality. Over the course of the summer, Margot is forced to confront her poor decisions, old friendships, romances, gentrification of her neighborhood, and some serious family issues. She finds herself in a bad place: a wannabe at the prep school, and a snob who has turned her back on her people in the Bronx. She also discovers that she's not the only one making bad decisions in life.
Is It Any Good?
In this alternately light and insightful story, a Puerto Rican teen tries to leave her Bronx roots behind for a slick prep-school life. The Education of Margot Sanchez tells the story of Margot, who is stuck between the identity she's trying to create for herself at school and the "princesa" she's known as in her parents' two Bronx supermarkets. Margot is hard to like through much of the book, with her judgmental, selfish, status-obsessed ways, but it is to author Lilliam Rivera's credit that we care about Margot's growth and what happens to her. Rivera does a good job of showing us how Margot struggles with her poor decisions and eventually learns from them. Rivera also doesn't shy away from showing the downside of the masculine, patriarchal culture in Margot's neighborhood. These elements keep the book from being a stereotypical story of a social-climbing teen in New York.
Margot's family issues also add depth to the book. We see her parents struggle with finances and their relationship, while her brother's making his own poor choices in trying to be the successful, smart son his parents expect him to be. Margot matures as she begins to understand more of the world around her, which makes for an enjoyable read. Rivera also gives the secondary characters a lot of personality and depth, a rarity in teen novels. The action and tension in the story makes this a page turner.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the notion of status in The Education of Margot Sanchez. Do the way celebrities and rich people dress affect your choices? Why or why not? If a person dresses in designer clothes or drives a particular type of car, does it really say anything about the person?
Many parents feel their kids are too young to understand money or other important issues that might affect the family. Do you feel parents should be more open about their problems with their kids as the kids get older?
Have you ever compromised who you are or changed the way you act to make friends?
- Author: Lilliam Rivera
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, High School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: February 21, 2017
- Number of pages: 304
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: February 26, 2020
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