Salon Talks: Erika Sanchez

In "I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter" author Erika L. Sanchez draws upon her own experiences as the daughter of undocumented Mexican immigrant parents to create the protagonist, a teenager named Julia,

The book is not a memoir, but Sanchez was compelled to write about the "experience of not fitting in," she told Salon's Mary Elizabeth Williams on "Salon Talks," and not feeling a sense of belonging with either American or Mexican culture. The book takes on several heavy and complicated issues: immigration, family, mental health, grief and cultural stereotypes.

The New York Times best-selling novel is of the Young Adult genre

a category Sanchez is proud to be a part of it. She said she finds it offensive that some people try to discredit the genre as not as thoughtful or impactful, much like people discount the experiences of teenagers as uninformed or inexperienced.

"I think YA is just ahead of the game," she said. "I think teenagers are thinking about really difficult things, and they're smart and they're capable of analyzing and thinking deeply. For me, it's exciting to be apart of that movement."

On "Salon Talks," Sanchez touched on channeling her own struggles with mental health into the novel, how immigration is less about a choice than it is about survival, and why "fiction is a great way to foster empathy."

Tune into SalonTV's live shows, "Salon Talks" and "Salon Stage," daily at noon ET / 9 a.m. PT and 4 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. PT, streaming live on Salon and on Facebook.

More From Salon Talks Full Episodes