The Education of Margot Sanchez is about our main character Margot Sanchez. She's a fifteen year old Latina teenager who "borrowed" her parent's credit card to buy herself new clothes. After getting caught she is forced to work at her parent's supermarket to pay off the money she stole. She goes to a preppy school where she feels like she has to follow and change herself to fit in, which means putting herself in situations she wouldn't have been in originally. She decides she needs to just stay in her parent's good graces in time for the biggest beach party of the year and she doesn't have any intention of letting her family or Moises - a boy she meets collecting signatures outside the supermarket- stand in her way of that party.
First we will start with characters. Margot Sanchez is a hard character to fully like. She is young and selfish which means she drove me absolutely insane. I had to keep in mind she is ten years younger than I am and that makes it hard for me to fully connect with her. However, even if I didn't agree with her choices and a lot of her motives, I did find myself rooting for her to learn something from these experiences. I think you're supposed to feel this way with Margot because you can tell she is a good person but that she has a lot of growing up to do. Moises was a character I really liked. I enjoyed that he was outspoken and he was sweet with Margot. Their bickering had me smirking and I really liked their moments together. I definitely wish that they had more moments than they did, but overall I thought the start of the relationship was believable. Normally with books where it's about family, and community, I tend to really like the parents, but that wasn't the case with this book. I really didn't like Margot's parents from the start, and it didn't improve at all by the end of the book. It explained a lot of her actions, especially with her brother being the way he was. I did see a flicker of hope by the end for her family, and I think I would have liked a little more. I also would have liked more background information on the side characters. Margot's friends and a good chunk of the workers at the supermarket didn't seem as developed as I liked. It made it kind of hard to care about Jasmine, Dominic, Freddie, Elizabeth, etc. The reader definitely gets a taste of the culture and the way the community is as a whole through the background characters but I did not feel like I knew them well individually.
However, I think the culture was harder to envision and feel when it came to the setting. I didn't feel grounded to the story to be able to see where they lived. I knew it was there, with the way the characters interacted and what was happening in the neighborhood. The reader knows from Moises that gentrification has started in their neighborhood which has caused trouble with an apartment area and other businesses, but you don't get a feel where Margot is. I didn't feel like there was enough information for me to have the full story playing in my head because I was missing that piece.
The dialogue and writing was really great. I am excited to read more by this author. I enjoyed the Spanish that was weaved into the dialogue between certain characters. I thought it helped make those characters their own individual selves. I also like the way Margot's character grows and develops. I was worried she wouldn't fully take responsibilities for her actions but by the end I am definitely satisfied with that part of the story. I like that it seems like Margot is bettering her life.
Overall I recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a contemporary coming to age story set in the Bronx. I think it's most definitely worth the read and I am really happy I got the chance to read it. I think this is the kind of book that would make a really good movie. However, when it comes to readers thinking of reading this book: know that the characters are not always likeable. If you have to full on love the character, you may not be happy with Margot and some others. I think by the end it is worth it though.