Have you ever found a book that you could connect with? When I first saw the novel, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, it was the cover art, and the first sentence of the back book summary that made me dive in. Never mind that I have not been in the Young Adult age group for a long time, I could relate to the protagonist of the story. I felt that Julia, a first generation daughter of Mexican immigrants, growing up in Chicago, was just like me.
Of course when I found out about Steppenwolf’s production of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, I was elated. Based on the New York Times Bestseller and National Book Award Finalist by Erika L. Sánchez, adapted by Isaac Gómez, directed by ensemble member Sandra Marquez and featuring ensemble member Karen Rodriguez, this poignant and vibrant new work is described as a love story to young Chicanas.
The cast, Karen Rodriguez (Julia), Charín Alvarez (Amá/ensemble), Eddie Martinez (Apá/ensemble), Peter Moore (Mr. Ingman/ensemble), Leslie Sophia Perez (Lorena/ensemble), Robert Quintanilla (Juanga/ensemble), Dyllan Rodrigues-Miller (Olga/ensemble) and Harrison Weger (Connor/ensemble) bought the characters to life and helped lead the audience through Julia’s journey as she copes with her older sister Olga’s unexpected death; and navigates her friendships, love, parents, culture, and the secrets that her sister kept.
Whether something is sad or funny, Julia leads us through her last years of high school as she journals everything. We hear her thoughts as a voice over and while very frank at times, it was relatable as heard from the audience laughs or gasps of surprise or disbelief. I found the production true to the book. While there were some changes, or things left out, the portrayals of the characters shine. It is Julia’s journey that takes center stage as she finds herself and sets her future into motion.
Do not miss out on this production. Highly recommended. And don’t forget to read the book.
Performances of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter: Friday February 28 at 7:30pm, Saturday, February 29 at 3pm and 7:30pm; Sunday, March 1 at 3pm, Wednesday, March 4 at 7:30pm, Friday, March 6 at 7:30pm; Saturday, March 7 at 3pm and 7:30pm; Friday, March 13 at 7:30pm, Saturday, March 14 at 3pm and 7:30pm; and Saturday, March 21 at 3pm and 7:30pm in the Upstairs Theatre. *The March 21 at 3pm performance will be a Relaxed/Sensory-Friendly performance.Tickets have been added on April 1 at 7:30pm, April 2 at 7:30pm, April 3 at 7:30pm, April 4 at 3pm and 7:30pm are on sale now. Tickets for April 5 at 3pm will go on sale Tuesday, March 3 at 11am.
Performance runs approximately 90 minutes with no intermission. Visit the Steppenwolf website for tickets and more information.
All photos by by Michael Brosilow