Lerner Publishing Group and Carolrhoda Lab have been extremely gracious to allow me to view an eBook version of this book on NetGalley. It was just released on March 1st, and is a superb read!! The synopsis is as follows: “‘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 to marry a boy from the neighborhood, to settle down, and to have grandbabies. If she wants a job, she could always be an assistant manager at the local grocery store. At school, it’s another story. Marisa’s calc teacher expects her to ace the AP test and to get into an engineering program in Austin—a city that seems unimaginably far away. When her home life 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. What Can’t Wait—the gripping debut novel from Ashley Hope Pérez—tells the story of one girl’s survival in a world in which family needs trump individual success, and self-reliance is the only key that can unlock the door to the future.
This is a beautifully told story about the hardships of cross-cultural children. Much like The Joy Luck Club, Marisa finds herself trapped between family obligations and personal wants and needs. Her family does not understand her want for an education, and Marisa’s struggle between family and independence intricately weaves itself throughout the entire novel.
The character development was phenomenal, and I really felt like I personally knew Marisa. In fact, each character within the novel is presented in such an unadulterated light that I felt like I knew them all. I’ve met people just like these characters, and it was really fun to draw out the similarities and differences between the characters and people I actually know. Pérez does an exemplary job fleshing out each character, and their stories all intertwine flawlessly. The usage of Spanish intertwined with English was a beautiful touch on Pérez’s part, and it made the story that much more genuine.
I was really able to grasp the hardships that cross-cultural children go through as Marisa desperately tries to adhere to her home culture while embracing her American culture as well. This novel is a real eye opener, and you will laugh and cry along with Marisa as she tries to find her place in the world. The amount of responsibility put on Marisa is mindboggling, and it really brought home to me how little I really know about my students’ lives. I kept identifying with Mrs. Ford as she pushed Marisa to her limits, not realizing the negative effects of such a push, or the amount of pressure on Marisa from her family and culture. This novel was a real eye opener for me, and I believe it will be for all who read it. I hope to see this novel in the 10th grade world literature curriculum in high school, as it is a wonderful depiction of the struggles and triumphs of cross-cultural children. I am adding this to my outside reading project for students! Five stars!