The Education of Margot Sanchez

Title: The Education of Margot Sanchez
Author: Lilliam Rivera
Series: N/A
Pages: 304
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: February 21st 2017

      “After ‘borrowing’ 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 family’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 she’s willing to do anything to get out of this punishment. Lie, cheat, and maybe even steal…
      Margot’s invitation to the ultimate beach party is within reach and she has no intention of letting her family’s drama or Moises—the admittedly good looking but outspoken boy from the neighborhood—keep her from her goal.

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“Everyone in this house hides behind closed doors. We build fortresses to bar people from scaling the walls and getting in. But even with the amount of time we spend sheltering ourselves there’s no way of concealing our problems.”

Lilliam Rivera’s The Education of Margot Sanchez is story about a girl finding her voice even amongst the chaos that surrounds her. Rivera has written a multi-faceted debut that tackles topics like family, gentrification, and identity. Margot knows that a lot has been invested in her in order for her to succeed. She’s spent months trying to fit in at her new school Somerset Prep, but in order to do so, she’s had to reinvent herself. She’s desperate for her new friends Serena and Camille to accept her, so impulsively takes her father’s credit card and runs up a $600 bill. Her plans to spend the summer at the Hamptoms all but fall apart, as she’s forced to work at her family-owned supermarket in the South Bronx. Now she feels out of place again. She doesn’t fit in the other cashieristas, her family is driving her crazy, and she finds herself attracted to a boy she has no business being interested in. Margot is desperate for a way out, but she may discover that the world she’s so desperate to leave behind is the one she belongs in after all.

When the book opens, Margot’s understanding of her situation is very narrow. She doesn’t quite get how her actions have such harsh consequences and blames her parents for her missing out on a great summer. While Somerset does offer her more opportunities, Margot has also lost sight of who she is. Her mind is in constant overdrive: how can she impress her friends, what can she change about herself in order to feel more accepted, how does she spin the fact that she’s being forced to work at Sanchez & Sons in a neighborhood her friends would never be caught dead in. She sees herself through other people’s eyes and finds it easier to blame other people than accept her own culpability. Her friendship with her childhood best friend Elizabeth is a great example of this. They’ve been growing apart ever since Margot started Somerset and Elizabeth, a new art school. Margot resents the fact that her best friend found it really easy to fit in and the more they grow apart, the more Margot begins to realize that Elizabeth has found a way to be happy without her. It takes Margot time to see things from her friend’s perspective, to see that it was Margot who changed and many of the things that defined their friendship got thrown out the window as Margot took on a new persona.

One of the first people to challenge this new Margot is Moises. A community activist working for the South Bronx Family Mission, they meet while he’s collecting signatures to stop the building of a new high-rise which will force residents from a local apartment building out. I fell in love with Moises during their first interaction. He’s both a playful and serious character who helps Margot broaden her perspective, though at the beginning she’d rather stay in her tiny, safe world. We only get small glimpses of Moises’s past and while I’d like to know more, I thought his present actions were more telling than the mistakes of his past. Family plays a huge role in this novel. Part of Margot growing up is seeing her family for who they are and not what they pretend to be. There’s a lot of hurt in the Sanchez household and they all cope differently with their problems. This all comes crumbling down when secrets get out and there’s no easy solution for any of them.

The Education of Margot Sanchez has a very messy ending. Much like life, the storylines in this novel aren’t wrapped up with a pretty bow at the end. There are hard times ahead for several characters, but I still found it to be a hopeful ending for Margot, who is taking the first steps to rectify her wrongdoings and reclaim who she is.

Rating: 4/5



19 thoughts on “The Education of Margot Sanchez

  1. I’m really, really interested in this one, especially as it’s a diverse read and I recently listened to a podcast interview with the author and really enjoyed it. I’m a little concerned that it might feel like a “young” YA because of the high school setting (I’ve been enjoying the high-school set YA less and less as I get older) but I’m glad that you enjoyed it!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I just read this one myself! I loved how messy all of this was, this wasn’t your Disney ending or Disney princess. a lot of hard life lessons that I think more people should read about! Thanks for the review Alicia, Moises was such an worthy “adversary” for Margot!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m so glad to see that you enjoyed this one! For some reason, I thought this book was really good, and I found myself completely engrossed in the story from the first page to the last. I liked Margot’s character, especially because she didn’t even try to hide the fact that she wasn’t really all that nice – sometimes it can be fun to read a book with a stuck up character as the main character!

    I definitely;y agree about that ending, it was kind of messy and it made me wonder what is going to happen next. While I usually prefer books that wrap things up nicely at the end, this was a fitting ending for this novel, I believe. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I haven’t read this book, but I’m interested in the family. Prep school sounds like wealth to me, but if the family owns a struggling grocery store, that puts them solidly middle class. Combine that with the quote about building walls around the house, and I wonder if this family over spends to maintain a look, which is where Margot’s unrealistic attitude toward money comes from.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The family is more middle class thanks to the family business. Margot’s family can afford to send her to a private school, but her family’s money can’t really compare to her peers’. I think for Margot, money isn’t the goal, but what money brings her, so she can keep up with her prep school friends.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Definitely. A business suggests upward mobility, but opening a business is a huge risk, too. My dad owns a business, and without my mom’s government job, he wouldn’t have retirement funds, healthcare, etc. That’s something I’m always aware of now, but I’m not sure I was when I was Margot’s age.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: The Friday 56: The Education of Margot Sanchez | A Kernel of Nonsense

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