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What Can(t) Wait- Ashley Hope Perez

“’You expect me to skip school so I can babysit for you? Don’t say another word unless you’re actually planning to do something. I want to know where divorce comes in.’
Cállate! Somebody’s going to hear!’
It’s odd that Cecilia doesn’t mind going outside looking the way she doesn’t, but she’s suddenly paranoid about neighbours with superhuman hearing. The only person out besides us is somebody’s abuelita rolling her trash can back up the driveway across the street, and I’m pretty sure she can’t hear us over the racket the wheels make over the asphalt.
‘Fine,’ I start walking away.
‘Hang on’ Cecilia says. She grabs the sleeve of my shirt. ‘Mira, the whole reason I’m asking you is because I don’t want Ma to know yet. But I’m serious about it this time, te prometo.’”
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 of her life. But there are a couple of people in her life that understand she’s more than that.
When thinking about university at the beginning of her senior year, Marisa’s calc teacher, Mrs F, mentions the Engineering course at the University of Texas. Not knowing much about her personal life Mrs F convinces Marisa she’s good enough to go and makes her apply. What follows is a highly emotional year for Marisa; her sister’s husband is involved in an accident making him unable to walk so her sister has to be the main breadwinner. Her family haven’t got much money so she is forced to give up half of her wages to help them out, even when she cuts her hours to look after her niece. The only thing Marisa wants to do is make life better for herself so she can help the family out more but with her dad refusing to even acknowledge school it is going to be very difficult.

When I read the summary of What Can(t) Wait I knew that there would be parts of this book that infuriated me. Obviously being a Caucasian English girl growing up in the middle of a little village in North East England the story is quite far away from anything I have experienced first-hand. My parents were always supportive of anything I did, especially school, so knowing that Marisa’s father didn’t want her to carry on her education and he just wanted her to get married and bring up her husband and family really bugged me.
I know very little about Mexican families, I know they are very family orientated and as far as I’m aware they are very religious too. This book was all about Mexican families (I think there were two white characters within the whole thing!), Mexican ideals and the things that were there but no-one spoke about. Even though I don’t know much about the type of life Marisa leads the way the book was written made me understand fully about the expectations of her family and how completely normal these were. I guess one thing that definitely put this across was how normal it was for Marisa’s sister to be on the couch after a bust-up with Jose, and how the news about a 14 year old character getting pregnant was taken.
I liked that you had Marisa’s sister, Ceci, around to show exactly what was expected of Marisa because I don’t think I would have gotten as much out of the story if it wasn’t for her. I found myself thinking “man if that’s what they want for Marisa, it’s no wonder she wants out!” I also like how much of a feel you got for Marisa’s Mami too, she was obviously the dutiful wife she was meant to be yet at the same time you could tell how much she wanted Marisa to be happy and to do what she wanted to do, especially towards the end. I felt betrayed by Mami part way through but at the same time I know she was just worried.
I loved the relationship that Marisa has with Alan too, he is such a sweetie and I do think he is the perfect guy for her! I love the descriptions of his drawings too, I felt like I could see them. That’s said for a lot of this book actually, I felt like I could see it, like a movie, in my head.
I really couldn’t stand Marisa’s father, you could see what he thought quite clearly and I really didn’t like the way he states that girls and maths don’t mix. I don’t think he was meant to be a nice character but he really, really frustrated me. I just kept thinking that yeah, he had a bad childhood but surely he wants better for his kids than he had, surely he wants everything they want. Maybe he was jealous, maybe he was old-fashioned, or maybe I just didn’t understand that part of the culture. I don’t know what it was but he was definitely the only thing I didn’t like about this book.
I think What Can(t) Wait is an amazing story about finding out what you want your life to be like and fighting to get it that way. The story was a bit predictable but it had a fair few twists within it to keep you on your toes. Whilst reading it I could tell that the author was either in the same kind of situation or knew plenty of people who had to deal with the issues Marisa had to deal with. It was like she just seemed to “know” teenagers and how they thought and acted, the story was really well done and I look forward to seeing more by Ashley Hope Perez. 
I would like to thank Learner Publishing Group for sending me What Can(t) Wait, for an honest review via netgalley.  The book has recently been released in the UK and can be found here 

One Comment

  • Clover

    This one sounds really good. I admit, I was first drawn to the cover (the butterfly in particular!) but I think it’d also be a story that would be very interesting.. I didn’t know it was published here already though, I shall definitely be looking out for it!

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