WHAT CAN(T) WAIT by Ashley Hope Perez (Carolrhoda 2011) tells the story of a young Hispanic girl named Marisa. Marisa's life is crammed full, not of proms and sleep overs and school activities. Instead, Marisa is helping to care for her niece, working almost a full time job as a grocery checker to help support her family, and trying her best to keep up in AP Calculus despite her level of commitments and fatigue. She wants to go to University of Texas and study to be an engineer but her family prefers she go to wrk full time and maybe take some classes at the University of Houston instead. It is a war of wills, one that Marisa might lose. <289>
This is a book sure to be popular with Texas teens as it is set here and, in many cases, mirrors the lives they live. Hispanic characters and authors are rare (though growing slowly in number) and teens long sometimes to read about their own culture. But books need to be windows as well. This book might just open up to some fresh air and some fresh ideas for readers from other cultures. I certainly identified with Marisa on some counts and did not grow up here in Texas (though I came as soon as I can says the bumper sticker popular in these parts). I struggled with funds to go to college and turned over parts of my pay to my family, too. And not having enough hours in a day? How many of us can relate to that?