What Can(t) Wait

Overview

"Another day finished, gracias a Dios." Seventeen-year-old Marisa's mother has been saying this for as long as Marisa can remember. Her parents came to Houston from Mexico. They work hard, and they expect Marisa to help her familia. An ordinary life—marrying a neighborhood guy, working, having babies—ought to be good enough for her. Marisa hears something else from her calc teacher. She should study harder, ace the AP test, and get into engineering school in Austin. Some days, it all seems possible. On others, she's not even sure what she wants.

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Overview

"Another day finished, gracias a Dios." Seventeen-year-old Marisa's mother has been saying this for as long as Marisa can remember. Her parents came to Houston from Mexico. They work hard, and they expect Marisa to help her familia. An ordinary life—marrying a neighborhood guy, working, having babies—ought to be good enough for her. Marisa hears something else from her calc teacher. She should study harder, ace the AP test, and get into engineering school in Austin. Some days, it all seems possible. On others, she's not even sure what she wants. When her life at home becomes unbearable, Marisa seeks comfort elsewhere—and suddenly neither her best friend nor boyfriend can get through to her. Caught between the expectations of two different worlds, Marisa isn't sure what she wants—other than a life where she doesn't end each day thanking God it's over. But some things just can't wait...

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Marisa's parents, immigrants from Mexico, don't understand her commitment to academic success, instead seeing only the ways she is letting down the family by not working tirelessly at her job or helping care for her five-year-old niece. But this is Marisa's senior year, and she is determined to excel so that she can apply to colleges and explore becoming an engineer, something her parents would vehemently oppose. Supporting her academic aspirations are her calculus teacher, her new boyfriend, Alan, and her best friend, Brenda, but Marisa is torn between her family's expectations and the life she hopes to lead. Peréz's debut is a realistic portrayal of challenges faced by immigrant families and conflicting cultural norms, as well as a sensitive exploration of teen pregnancy (Marisa's older sister and Alan's younger sister become pregnant in high school). Strong-willed but emotionally vulnerable, Marisa is aware that pursuing a life that's fulfilling on her own terms comes with a price, and her bittersweet decision leads to an honest and satisfying ending. Ages 12–up. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Michele C. Hughes
Marisa's life is complicated. Her sister expects her to babysit. Her father expects his meals on time. Her homework is challenging. There's no money for college. She's pulled in so many different directions that she can't always figure out what's most important. Should she sacrifice her studies for her family? Her family for her future? She struggles to balance her family's Mexican culture with the American dream. Marisa's hope is to study engineering at a university that's hours away, but as drama swirls around her, she can't imagine moving away, let alone find the time to study. Her teachers have no idea what pressures Marisa is feeling. Only Alan, her new boyfriend, and Brenda, her best friend, have any inkling of Marisa's problems. Things come to a head at home, and when Marisa stands up to her patriarchal, old-school dad, tempers flare. Marisa seeks solace from Alan, and in a moment of true chivalry, Alan shows Marisa just how much he cares for her by slowing down their physical relationship. Yet Marisa experiences it more as rejection than love, so she nearly makes a terrible mistake with another boy in a moment of confusion. A wedge grows between her and Alan, which adds to her worries. In the end, it takes some courage and some strength, but Marisa finds her way to restored relationships, healthy boundaries and a future that is uniquely hers. Marisa's story is told in the first person and in the present tense, drawing the reader into a story that is unfolding in real time. This book is a window into the experience of a bi-cultural student who is finding a place and her voice in the world. Reviewer: Michele C. Hughes
VOYA - Francesca Goldsmith
Marisa's last semester of high school is fraught with her older sister's chronic marriage problems that require Marisa to babysit her five-year-old niece; her Mexican parents' refusal to accept the value she places on her school work and academic aspirations; a new boyfriend; and a near-rape by another student. Perez breathes credible and engaging life into her calculus-loving protagonist and the assorted adults and youth with whom she copes, on whom she relies, and against whom she battles. As a former teacher, Perez brings authenticity to the Houston high school Marisa attends, and as a product of a similar neighborhood to Marisa's, she paints a complex portrait of the various struggles between generations, languages, and genders that is cogent and natural. Her narrative style is fluid and literary and, as have other authors increasingly over the past decade, she folds in Spanish without awkwardly translating each instance. This is an excellent story for Marisa's peers, yes, but also for other teens anywhere in the US. Marisa's triumphs go beyond doing well in calculus to the more essential victories of loving her niece, learning to trust her boyfriend, and choosing when to ignore her parents' wishes. Reviewer: Francesca Goldsmith
Kirkus Reviews

If only 17-year-old Marisa Morena could figure out her future in her Houston barrio as well as she solves calculus problems. How can she even think of entering the engineering program at UT-Austin with so much going on? She's needed to watch her young niece so her sister (with no insurance) can work a double shift to pay off her husband's hospital bills, she has plenty of shifts of her own every weekend at the grocery store and her illiterate, immigrant father constantly reminds her that "Girls and numbers don't mix." And as if she doesn't have enough "fuckingproblemas," what with tiptoeing around her stubborn father and trying to please her needy mother while squeezing in secret AP Calculus practice sessions, the teen watches her peers get pregnant and married (in that order) and wonders if staying in Houston can be "good enough." First-time author Pérez fills a hole in YA lit by giving Marisa an authentic voice that smoothly blends Spanish phrases into dialogue and captures the pressures of both Latina life and being caught between two cultures. With help from a boyfriend with similar desires, a supportive teacher and an unexpected hand from her family, Marissa learns to put her own goals first in a hopeful but never too-tidy ending.Un magnifico debut.(Fiction. 12 & up)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761384991
  • Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/28/2012
  • Pages: 234
  • Sales rank: 774,598
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: HL680L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 5.30 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Ashley Hope Pérez grew up in Texas and served in the Teach for America Corps in a neighborhood similar to the one depicted in her debut novel, What Can't Wait. She has worked as a translator and is completing a PhD in comparative literature. She spends most of her time reading, writing, listening to audiobooks, and teaching college classes on vampire literature and Latin-American women writers. For fun, she bakes cookies and runs. She lives in Indiana with her husband, Arnulfo, and their son, Liam Miguel.

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2012

    Very good story

    I teach in a school where our demographics are very similar to the one in the story. The author was able to catch the culture very well and was extremely realistic. I will use this book in the future to motivate young hispanic girls who want more out of life than what is the norm in their families. For people who are familiar with first generation blue collar Mexican families,this book will be easy to relate to. For people who have not been exposed to this culture, I think the author did a fine job of describing the struggles with out hugely stereotyping Mexicans. Super easy read, read it for the plot but don't expect to find any other literary elements worth exploring.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2013

    Amazing!!!!!!!!!!

    This book was amazing. I couldn't put itdown it was so good. I read it within a week or two.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2012

    Haters gonna hate,

    Haters gonna hate

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews

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