Beth G.'s Reviews > What Can(t) Wait

What Can(t) Wait by Ashley Hope Pérez
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I watch the life that my parents lead, and I know that I want something different. They have worked hard their entire lives with no savings to show for it. My dad dropped out of school in Mexico before third grade; my mom "graduated" from middle school. My brother and sister got out of high school, but they don't want anything more.

High school Senior Marisa is working hard. All the time. At school, she is trying to keep up with a college-preparatory course load that includes AP Calculus. Even with her affinity for math, it's hard to stay on top of homework when her after-school hours are taken up with working extra shifts at the grocery store to help support la familia (she hands over half of her paycheck to her parents) and baby-sitting her niece. Her math teacher is pushing her to apply to an engineering program in Austin, but her parents aren't even eager to see her start school in town at the University of Houston. Marisa sees the life her sister leads, pregnant as a teenager and now in an unhappy marriage to the father, and she knows she wants a different life. While her best friend is happy to live out her life in Houston, Marisa wants to do more. Her whole life, she has tried to be the good daughter, to do and be everything her family needs. When does she get to take of herself?

In this realistic novel, Pérez brings the reader intimately into Marisa's world, viewing it through her eyes. The dialogue is peppered with Spanish phrases, echoing the speech of many bilingual teens. Secondary characters are vividly drawn, and glimpses of their perspectives illuminate Marisa's conflicts. Her life is full of complications that come with being a child of immigrants. Although the particular challenges she faces will be unfamiliar to some readers, her struggle to balance her own needs with those of the people she loves is universal.
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