- What Can(t) Wait
Marisa is a gifted student, but her father, an immigrant from Mexico, doesn’t value the academic work that Marisa hopes will allow her to pursue an engineering degree. Instead, he insists that she help her family by taking on more hours at the grocery store where she works and babysitting for her sister’s child. Marisa’s new boyfriend and her teacher both try to persuade her that she needs to look to her own future and not settle for her father’s limited and sexist ideas of what her possibilities are; his will exerts a strong hold on her, though, as does her niece’s clear and present need for attentive care that no one else will give her. Exhausted and discouraged, Marisa makes some bad decisions along the way that threaten to undermine her greatest supports, but in the end she manages to escape to a promising future with her most important relationships intact. This is a timely, realistic and unflinching portrayal of an unfortunately pressing problem for many immigrant teens, whose families come to this country seeking a better life but sometimes end up resisting their children’s Americanized attitudes toward gender, work, and education. Marisa’s mother becomes a quiet hero; she is unwilling to stand up to her husband, but she nonetheless encourages Marisa to run away if that’s what it takes to pursue a degree, acknowledging that it will ultimately help Marisa’s family and inspire her niece much more. Readers in similar situations will be encouraged to do what it takes to build their own version of a better life, even when their families don’t understand or believe in them.