what can’t wait

graphic design blog

What Can’t Wait is a debut YA novel from Ashley Hope Pérez. The protagonist, Marisa, is torn between staying in Houston and her grocery store job, and pursuing a college education and career in physics. Her teachers expect her to get into college with AP classes and scholarships, but expectations from her very traditional Mexican familia are that she must stay in Houston to work and take care of her entire family after high school. The story is gripping and wonderfully written—you truly do not know until the end what path Marisa will chose. But the story was also fairly traditional, so a highly symbolic cover would have been misrepresentative of the story. Instead of going full-on esoteric, I opted for the design direction of a collage of elements evocative of all she must choose between. The girl looking somewhat distraught, the roughness of her Houston neighborhood and life, the butterfly art and her boyfriend, the physics equations, and warped title type—to echo Marisa’s stretching to try to make both goals of college and supporting her family possible. People (and type) can only stretch so far before they break (or become illegible).

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