Lilliam Rivera is the author of The Education of Margot Sanchez, a contemporary young adult novel set in the Bronx. Featuring a Latina protagonist who is the lead and not the feisty sidekick, the novel explores tough topics like dysfunctional families, class and race, gentrification, and the perils of addiction.
It’s not surprising that this debut novel has been nominated for a 2017 Best Fiction for Young Adult Fiction by the Young Adult Library Services Association. (Dear Hollywood, this would make a great movie. Get on it!)
Lilliam is an award-winning writer who was recently named a “2017 Face to Watch” by the Los Angeles Times. A 2016 Pushcart Prize winner and a 2015 Clarion alumni with a Leonard Pung Memorial Scholarship, she has been awarded fellowships from PEN Center USA, A Room Of Her Own Foundation, and received a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation and the Speculative Literature Foundation. Her work has appeared in Tin House, Los Angeles Times, Latina, USA Today, and Los Angeles Review of Books, to name a few.
Sweat trails down the back of my neck to the crevice of my butt. I look down and notice the deformed wheel on the shopping cart I’ve been fighting with for the past five minutes. It’s the end of week number one. Instead of having me do any kind of social media for the supermarket, Papi decided I first needed to herd carts out in the parking lot. I crave shelving instead of this tiny new hell. Cars honk at me to move out of the way. One woman complained how dirty the carts were and how I should use a disinfectant to wipe each of them down. “You don’t want to start an Ebola crisis, do you?” she asked. No, I do not want to start a deadly disease but I also don’t want to do this.
I stop in the middle of the lot, pull out a hair band, and put my once-sleek do up in a lopsided bun. This is the worst, and this ugly uniform jacket adds nothing to my situation.
Before I faint Oscar thankfully comes out with a gallon of water.
“Sit down and take a break!” he yells. I join him underneath the store’s awning. “How’s it going?”
“I think I’m going to die,” I say. “It’s too hot to be out here.”
“Did you know that these carts cost more than a hundred dollars each? It’s true,” Oscar says. “What you are doing is so important. It might seem trivial but it’s not.”
A hundred dollars! Maybe I should bill Papi for each cart I collect. He can deduct it from the twenty-six hundred I owe.
“We should upgrade to the automatic-lock carts but they cost too much,” Oscar says. He pulls a towel from his back pocket and wipes the perspiration accumulating on his bald head. “Sometimes it’s good to do work with your hands.” He pours me a large glass of water and I gulp it. “It’s humbling work. You are almost done.”
He shows me his rough hands and we compare. My poor chipped nails. So not cute.
The Education of Margot Sanchez (Simon & Schuster) is available in hardcover and e-book versions at all major and independent bookstores. Her second young adult novel, Dealing in Dreams, will be published in 2018.
Lilliam brings her experiences as a former entertainment journalist and now a fiction writer to speaking engagements. Her craft workshops include ways to mine personal history for compelling fiction, how to tackle tragedy in young adult fiction, and an exploration of speculative literature.