Simon and Schuster
February 21, 2017
This book brought back memories of adolescence, big time. On the surface, Margot and I come from very different places (East Van vs. the Bronx?!), but so much of it resonated with the experience of growing up in a working class immigrant neighborhood, and dealing with messy cultural and family expectations.
There's the toxic machismo, the importance of putting on a face, no dating (yet somehow you're expected to get married someday?), the pressure of having to succeed because there's no other option, family that's supposed to be the most important thing in your life, but no one ever confides anything important to one another. The jacket cover calls it a dysfunctional family, but I just see it as family. Aren't most of ours just as messy?
At the heart of the story is Margot trying to figure out who she is and who she wants to be, and it takes both her family life and social life fracturing for her to realize what's important. Margot gets things wrong, realizes it, and tries to make up for it in the end.
I also appreciated that the 'popular' girls, while still sometimes bluntly nasty, weren't just using Margot. They were probably not the right friends for her, but they were trying to help Margot in their own way. I really dislike when stories pit girls against other girls. Female friendships are important.
By the end of the novel, there are no magic solutions to the bigger problems in Margot's life, but she's changed for the better, and this felt genuine.