Author: Ashley Hope Perez
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books
Published Date: March 1st 2011
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Contemporary, YA
My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
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 story of one girl's survival in a world in which family trumps individual success and independence, and self-reliance the only key that can unlock the door to the future.
"When we were younger, I imagine that finishing high school would be like waving a magic wand, and then my dad would like me and Ma would understand me and Ceci wouldn't dump on me and Gustavo would do the dishes for once and I'd have my own life.... Here I am, seventeen years old and still tiptoeing around my dad, trying to please my mom, getting bulldozed by Cecilia and ignored by Gustavo."
Marissa's story is one we see played out time and time again in real life. It's one that is so real and isn't about romance for once. It's about a teenager trying to find a way to better her own future, all while juggling her family responsibilities. It's something that so many young women try to do every day and are continually tried to stop because they are supposed to help with the family and wanting to succeed and do better in school is hard for others to imagine. Despite the obstacles put in Marissa's way with the help of a teacher who believes that she can do it, and a boyfriend who is supportive of her decisions as well, she is able to juggle everything for awhile.
"You don't have to rescue everybody. Nobody can do that. Don't forget about your stuff, your goals and shit."
Sadly with constantly being discouraged by her family, she starts thinking that it isn't what she needs to do. Add in the constant watching of her niece who she gives full attention to because no one else does, and working with any free time she has, studying just isn't a priority. Until she realizes that she needs to do this for herself, even if it means having to 'disappoint' certain people. She can't keep living her life like it is, it's not what she wants, nor is it one that will ever make her happy. It's a tough choice, but it's one that I'm glad she made and I was so proud of her making it.
Perez did an amazing job with this story. Not only did I feel for Marissa, but I also understood the pressure and stress she was under. It was even possible to see things from her families point of view as well. Seeing Marissa continue on even with everything else she was having to deal, really is something we need more in YA. So many young people are in this type of situation and it's one that is hard to get out of because of how many different ways they are being pulled. But Marissa and so many others find a way and we need these stories to say hey this is real life and yes it's hard, but if you believe in them and gives them the opportunity they can do amazing things.
I can't wait to read Perez's other book now!