Here's the summary:
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.Okay, so I should clarify this now. In the book, Marisa has a really sucky home life that anyone would want to escape from. I'm not taking issue with that character or storyline at all. It's just that line - the one about "surviving" a world where family comes before the individual - that's getting under my skin, because it's the same thing that's used to sell every YA "issue" book, especially a multicultural "issue" book, that gets any kind of promotional push whatsoever. Think Wait for Me by An Na. Think Koyal Dark, Mango Sweet by Kashmira Sheth. To some extent, think Secret Keeper by Mitali Perkins. I could go on.
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 the only key that can unlock the door to the future.
To be fair, Ashley Hope Perez seems to be very aware of the "family" issue in this interview I read with her. And honestly, she did a fantastic job with it. But - and I'm going to pull out all my fancy sociology and intercultural communication terms now - doesn't it seem a little ethnocentric to assume that the children of immigrant or traditional parents will always want to escape into the newer, "better," Western individualistic culture?
I guess this is a little personal for me because I love my family. Not that we're multicultural or anything - though my stepdad hails from across the pond, and we're barefoot filthy hippie farm people, which is kind of a culture - but we're tight knit, and family does come before the individual. I sacrifice things for them. But, and this is the key difference between my family and Marisa's, they also sacrifice things for me. We support each other's pipe dreams, even when we disagree. We're also a blended family. And I've hardly ever seen a kind of family in YA, unless they're Cullen-esque wish fulfillment.
And that's where I'd love some input, folks, and/or recommendation of good "family" YA. Please leave 'em in the comments, you know the drill!