What Can(t) Wait
By Ashley Hope Perez
Carolrhoda LAB, 2011. 234 pgs. Teen fiction
Marisa wants to graduate high school, get accepted to UT-Austin's engineering program, and get out on with having a life of her own. However, her parents have very different expectations for her; neither of them even went to high school, let alone graduated, so they don't understand her need for education. They expect her to be a willing helper in their family by cooking, baby-sitting her niece, and working as many hours as possible at her part-time job to help support the family. Marisa's best friend, boyfriend, and favorite teacher tell her she needs to work for her dreams, but Marisa doesn't know how she can if it comes at the expense of her family, especially her adorable niece who needs all the attention she can get.
This was a gripping book; I was pulled into Marisa's struggles, charmed by her boyfriend, and frustrated by her family. This realistic, intense story is one that many teen readers will enjoy. (As a small side tangent, though, I have to say one scene is really bothering me; when Marisa's dad gets upset about Marisa being out with her friends, Marisa's best friend--also Latina--explains that it's different for her, since her mom is Cubana and not Mexican and doesn't let her dad push her around. That's a paraphrase, but it illustrates the point. Anyway, I just felt like that was stereotyping Mexican men and women, and while the stereotype might be true in a lot of cases, I think it particularly bothered me because we don't get a whole lot of literature that take us beyond that stereotype...and I'd like to see that.)