Publisher's Note:  
"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. An ordinary life--marrying a neighborhood guy, working, having babies--ought to be good enough for her. Marisa hears something else from her calc teacher. She should study harder, ace the AP test, and get into engineering school in Austin. Some days, it all seems possible. On others, she's not even sure what she wants. When her life at home 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. But some things just can't wait...

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Lerner Publishing Group

What Can't Wait

by Ashley Hope PĂ©rez

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Overall Review:  

Based on the author's time teaching at an inner-city school, "What Can't Wait" is a realisitc story of one Hispanic teen's life in a low-income neighborhood in Texas. Marisa's voice drew me in immediately; Pèrez weaves a story that is ultimately hopeful, but also down-to-earth. "What Can't Wait" not only kept me turning the pages—it made me pause to think about the blessings of my own life when I was done.

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language: 11 religious exclamations; 15 mild obscenities; 4 religious profanities; 7 derogatory terms (there are also 2 or 3 mildly derogatory terms in Spanish); 37 scatalogical terms; 16 anatomical terms; 2 obscene hand gestures; 8 f-word derivatives.


Violence/Gore: A character is severely injured in a forklift accident at work (the accident is reported second-hand). A boy attempts to date-rape a girl. A boy makes crude threats to a girl and the girl threatens him with a cut glass bottle (the scene is fairly intense). It is implied that two marriages have some degree of abuse, but no detail is ever given. Gangs are referenced.


Sex/Nudity Rating: Characters flirt, hold hands, and kiss. A character notes crude graffiti. Teenagers reference sex, pregnancy, and attempted rape. A girl has thoughts about "wanting" a boy, and that he is "making [her] hot in x-rated places." Two teenagers have intense makeout sessions on three occasions and come close to, but do not have, sex. (These scenes are half a page to a page long, and include a lot of detail.) A teen becomes pregnant (no detail is given and it is only reported second-hand), and it is implied that another girl became pregnant when she was a teen (she is now married). A girl mentions boys looking at pornography on their cell phones. A boy tries to force a girl to have sex with him (attempted date rape). A lot of detail is given. Later, the same boy indicates that he is going to act similarly (but it does not go as far). 

Mature Subject Matter:  

Mature themes include implied abuse (parental and spousal), teenage sex and pregnancy, date rape, immigrant struggles, and serious/disabling injury.

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

Six instances of drug or alcohol use (cigarette smoking; references to marijuana, including drug trade; alcohol consumption by minors).

Reviewed By CindyB
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