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What Can(t) Wait

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  635 ratings  ·  131 reviews
Marissa has smarts and plenty of promise, but she's marooned in a broken-down Houston neighborhood--and in a Mexican immigrant family where making ends meet matters much more than making it to college. When her home life becomes unbearable, Marissa seeks comfort elsewhere--and suddenly neither her best friend or boyfriend can get through to her.

What Can't Wait tells the s
Hardcover, 234 pages
Published March 11th 2011 by Carolrhoda Books
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Ashley I wrote WHAT CAN'T WAIT because my high school students in Houston told me that there was a book they wanted to read but couldn’t find. Brace yourselv…moreI wrote WHAT CAN'T WAIT because my high school students in Houston told me that there was a book they wanted to read but couldn’t find. Brace yourselves for the shock of the century: the book they wanted to read was one about them, about their world, about their challenges, about their hopes. WHAT CAN'T WAIT is stuffed full of my students’ stories, and it deals with a concern that was particularly salient to them: how does a driven teen—confronted with the daily expectation to drop everything and help out at home—find her or his own path?

I don’t write for my agent or my editor. I write for my students. I write because Rey Mejia told me to keep it real. I write because I want Diana Alvarez to know that she’s not alone with a senior year that would break a lesser woman. I write because I want Brianda Morales to see how college is for her. I write because I want my students to find books that resonate with their experiences, books that honor their particular challenges, books that remind them that they can chart their own path, books that don’t pretend that life offers easy answers.

(Want to know more? I talked about this over at DiversityinYA:

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Average rating 3.80  · 
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 ·  635 ratings  ·  131 reviews

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Feb 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Dairy Queen series fans, Simone Elkeles fans, and people who like learning about first gen Americans
When I saw that this book was not only about the Mexican-American experience but that it also included a teenage girl who excelled in math, I couldn’t wait to read it. (the Mexican experience aspect because I find it fascinating and the math thing to stick it to my 5th grade science teacher who told my mom that it was no big deal that I sucked at circuitry because I was a girl and would obviously never need to know anything about it) The only other YA books that I’ve read involving Mexican teena ...more
Mar 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
I once spent a summer internship volunteering at a women's shelter. I think that was probably the most gut-wrenching two months of my life. It wasn't just the black eyes, and hopeless faces and horror stories. It was the fact that these women, over and over, went back to the same lives, going nowhere, being no-one because they couldn't see a way out. Nothing is guaranteed to make you feel quite so helpless as seeing injustice you can't do anything about. And while I admired the permanent employe ...more
Mar 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Have you ever read a book which you completely understand and relate to, even if it's set into another time, dimension, world? Well, this is that kind of book - the kind where the characters are so real that even if you cannot relate to their situation, you understand and love.

Marisa is in her senior year in high school, and finds herself on a crossroad - her parents don't see the point in higher education and pressure her into working more to help the family, while her friends and teachers try
Feb 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
At First Sight: Marisa's life has always been complicated - living in Houston, helping support her family and most often than not taking care of her niece Anita and getting dragged into her older sister's messes - but, during senior year of high school a bit of hope opens up for her since her AP calculus teacher keeps urging her to apply to a prestigious engineering program at UT-Austin.

Marisa knows is a long shot and that her immigrant parents have never cared much about how well she does at sc
America Araujo
Jan 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was really good because it was about love and whether to listen to her parents or her calcus teacher. Her name was Marisa and she was very smart, her life with her best friend was sad because they got in a fight about she too crazy and she's to nerdy. My favorite part about this book was the ending because she made a good decision of going to the college she wanted to go and listen to her teacher, which in my case I would have too.
Nov 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone around 13+
Recommended to may by: courtesy of Netgalley
What Can't Wait deals with a huge number of very important issues clearly and concisely. It was a pleasure to read and I was enthralled even though there isn't much in the way of a dramatic plot. There are, for certain, moments of high tension; these include an accident with a forklift as well as teenage pregnancy. Although this is uncommon for a YA novel, the book is good because it's different and it focuses on Marisa's daily life which is often tough for her to handle at times.

Marisa's life i
Morgan F
Pleasantly surprising. Not great, but certainly better than I expected.
Maggie Desmond-O'Brien
Feb 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
After a number of disappointing 2011 debuts, I was more than a little worried that my first year participating in the Debut Author Challenge would be a bust. Surely, I thought, they have to have found at least one author this year that we'll remember in ten years. Or even five years. Right? Right, I decided about 50 pages into What Can(t) Wait, and her name is Ashley Hope Perez.

I know I've ranted and raved about how every PoC/diversity book these days seems to be an issue book, and I stand by th
Mayara Cristina
Oct 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Teenagers and foreign

Genre: Realistic Fiction WHAT CAN´T WAIT
Ashley Hope Pérez

Marisa had seventeen years old when she came with her family to United States. They comes to Houston from Mexico, her family worked hard and expected that she worked hard too, but she is a teenager girl, she need go to school. She is excellent in calculus; she should study hard, because she will take the AP test, and get into engineering college in Austin. Some days she think that will be possible go to the college, and others days she
Cheree Smith
Mar 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Marissa wants to be more than what her family expects her to be. Her family expects her to marry, work hard and stay around her family to help them out. Marissa wants so much more. She tries hard at school and is even taking AP calculus to get into a good university to become more than an assistant manager at the local grocery store. With all her family and work obligations, Marissa finds it hard to keep up with her advanced classes and sometimes she even thinks that she will never be able to ac ...more
Aug 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
As an inner-city public school teacher, myself, I found that What Can(t) Wait rang true in so many ways. Ashley Hope Perez has written a realistically strong yet conflicted main character, Marisa. An academically talented high school senior, but the daughter of parents who do not seem to value education, Marisa must decide what type of future she wants for herself--an engineering degree from a prestigious college, or a manager's position at the local grocery store where she already works evening ...more
Dec 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
The rating is actually 3.5/5.
Please check my blog for individual ratings.

When l got this book on Netgalley l had the impression it would be a very simple,easy and relaxing book to read with a straight forward storyline, a nice change from paranormal which l enjoy every now and then.
Well l was wrong, even though this book doesn't have the most complex story line and it is quite a easy read this book does tackle many difficult situations and problems which many teenage girls go through day to day.
Via Love
Mar 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
I have to be honest: when I first read the description for this book, I was kind of hesitant to read it. But, I decided to read it anyway. And this is the first time I've ever been glad that I second guessed myself.

Lately, I've been reading a lot of crap books, but this was not one of them. The characters were so realistic (which you have to both love and hate). Also, the heroine, Marisa, was just so strong and brave. She's one character who I can look up to. No matter how tough things got for
Jul 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
In a way, I was inspired by this book. I can't really expain it other than saying that this book made me think whatever you're going through, there is a way to get out so never give up; everyone has problemas. And that's what this chica had. She had to tackle school along with watching her 5 year old niece and still have a little fun on the way. Her family really didn't care about the education part even though she almost had straight A's and didn't even care for anything else other than watchi ...more
Sep 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was such a perfect book. I've been wanting to read this for at least seven years! And I should have read it a long time ago. I didn't expect this story. Being from an immigrant family, I always thought that all immigrant parents want their children to go to college. I get the staying close to home thing but sheesh. Planning out her life of misery, what "great parenting." I felt like I got a new perspective. I sometimes forget how much parents can put on their kids. I sometimes forget how so ...more
Janet Frost
Jul 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book was an incredibly poignant story. The heroine is a young girl struggling to get through her senior year of high school. She is the youngest daughter in a Latino family in Houston. Her dream, to pass her AP Calculus class/exam and progress on to the prestigous Univ of Texas in engineering is sabotages by almost everyone in her life.
I work with young gifted Hispanic students and this book broke my heart. It reminded me that I won't ever truly understand the uphill battle these kids fac
Forever Young Adult
Graded By: Erin
Cover Story: Mathalicious!
BFF Charm: To Love Oneself Is the Beginning of a Lifelong Relationship (aka HELLS YES)
Swoonworthy Scale: 5
Talky Talk: Muy Legitimo a Dejar
Bonus Factors: H-Town, Math, The Marilla Cuthbert Award
Relationship Status: Have You Been Reading My Diary, Ashley Pérez?

Read the full book report here.
Sep 13, 2018 rated it liked it
I read this to prepare for a book club I will be facilitating next year in a youth detention center. I loved how it shows so many struggles that teens face. Marisa faces so many choices and challenges. So much realistic tension between family and future. I already know this will be all too realistic and familiar to the teens.
May 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: high-school
This book really took me back to my days in Houston, where I taught inner-city students who were much like the characters in this book. I think high school girls from any background would enjoy this story. Maybe boys too.
Llyr Heller-Humphreys
An excellent realistic fiction about a teen trying to find her way amidst family struggles. This is one of the titles we are discussing in the book group I am running for the American Library Associations Great Stories Club. I am very excited to see what the teens think of it.
Janiya Campbell
Jan 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I Think this book was a amazing, but i didn't know what was happing during the ending but other wish i would recommemd i to a lot of people
K. Lincoln
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
From the first page you meet Marissa, she is fullfiling the role of good daughter and sister. We meet her babysitting her niece, Anita, while her older sister flounces in with more complaints about her useless, partying husband. But Marissa has homework to do. She likes school, has dreams of going to University of Texas-Austin despite the rest of her siblings barely graduating high school.

Her immigrant parents are barely keeping the family afloat, and so they rely on her not only for free babysi
Donald/Alainah Foster
Feb 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was a tear-jerker, funny, and questioning novel. The main character, Marisa, had a lot of problems through her high school life. She had a fight with her parents and decided to move in with her sister, Cecilia. She stayed there to calm herself down. She also broke up with her boyfriend, Alan. They eventually get back together.
Mar 16, 2011 rated it really liked it

What do you do when your family is so far removed from your aspirations in life they won’t back you up when you try and get there? Marisa is 17, the same age her sister was when she got pregnant and married her good-for-nothing ass of a boyfriend. Over the years there has been rarely anything but an A on her report card but her father can’t read and her mother doesn’t want to look at them. She is expected to graduate from school, get married, have a baby, and work at the local store for the rest
What Can(t) Wait cuts at your raw nerves without any remorse and tells the story of a young Mexican American girl living in Houston. The schools they mentioned, Chavez and Lamar also happen to be real schools in the Houston area. As a current teacher I just wanted to run up to Ashley and hug her. One of the most awful things about education is that while many students come from difficult backgrounds, we're told not to discuss these issues at conferences. There are so many uncomfortable issues, w ...more
Mar 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: galley-grab

This is a Galley Grab review...Thank you Lerner Publishing Group for the opportunity to read and review this book!

I like books that tell about a persons life, where there is no moment of great climax, but many small moments of meaning. This book is very meaningful, interesting, and hopeful.

Marisa is Mexican, her parent's are from Mexico and moved to Texas later in life. She is bilingual and very very smart. But because of her parent's culture, her life is diffi
Sep 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What Can’t Wait by Ashley Hope Pérez was not an easy read. There were parts that broke my heart. Seventeen-year old Marisa is the daughter of Mexican immigrants living in Houston. This is a novel of figuring out how to balance the expectations that others have for you against the expectations and hopes that you have for yourself. This was definitely a windows book for me. I grew up in an environment that prioritized education. I now teach in an environment that, while incredibly diverse, is also ...more
Feb 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Originally posted at:

**This is a review based on an ARC. The text may change!**

It was really fantastic to see how an immigrant to the US from Mexico copes with family, school, a job and learning to live life. It's also pretty much a coincidence how my last post (below) is of Illegal by Bettina Restrepo, which also deals with a family from Mexico.

It was different to see how Marisa lives her life. I mean, I can't imagine ever living like that! But obviously
Mar 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Marisa is the good daughter: cooking for her father and brother, babysitting whenever her sister asks, giving half of her paycheck to the family each month.

But Marisa dreams of going to the University of Texas to study engineering, and ber calculus teacher thinks that Marisa is actually smart enough to make it happen.

But her father has all but forbidden her to go to college.
Her mother doesn't want her to leave home.
Her sister needs her to be a full-time babysitter for her niece.
So college
What Can't Wait by Ashley Hope Pérez

I was really eager to start this and totally enjoyed everything I read. Miss Pérez is absolutely an author I’ll be on the lookout for in the future, especially if she keeps writing stories just like this one!

"“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. And they expect her t
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When I’m not reading, writing, or teaching, I hang out with my husband Arnulfo and our two boys, Liam Miguel and Ethan Andrés. In the scraps of time that remain, I also like to run (I did the Houston Marathon in 2007 and the Chicago Marathon in 2009), bake (but let’s don’t revive the “Cookie Girl” nickname, please), watch movies, work in my garden, and destroy my mom in long-distance games of Scra ...more

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