Monday, August 14, 2017

MMGM: The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya


ABOUT THE BOOK

Save the restaurant. Save the town. Get the girl. Make Abuela proud. Can thirteen-year-old Arturo Zamora do it all or is he in for a BIG, EPIC FAIL?

For Arturo, summertime in Miami means playing basketball until dark, sipping mango smoothies, and keeping cool under banyan trees. And maybe a few shifts as junior lunchtime dishwasher at Abuela's restaurant. Maybe. But this summer also includes Carmen, a cute poetry enthusiast who moves into Arturo's apartment complex and turns his stomach into a deep fryer. He almost doesn't notice the smarmy land developer who rolls into town and threatens to change it. Arturo refuses to let his family and community go down without a fight, and as he schemes with Carmen, Arturo discovers the power of poetry and protest through untold family stories and the work of Jose Marti.

REVIEW

I enjoyed this book for a bunch of reasons but I think the thing I liked the most is the sense of family that shines through so clearly.  Arturo makes for a great, sympathetic character as he struggles with a crush on a girl, a summer job, and the threat to his family's restaurant business.  Add to that his Abuela's illness, an introduction to poetry, and his best friends being away and Arturo has his hands full. Cartaya has written a story that's full of both humor and heart, giving the reader a glimpse into the ups and downs of one Cuban immigrant extended family. Some of my favorite parts though were the conversations that Arturo has with his best friends, Bren and Mop, they added humor to a book that could have taken itself too seriously.  And I found Arturo's struggles with Carmen, his first crush, to be easy to relate to, after all, who hasn't had an epic fail when it comes to relationships.  But thanks to his family, Arturo finds a way to deal with the challenges life deals him, even the chance that his family will lose their restaurant to a developer.  As Arturo and his family fight for their restaurant, they also fight for their family-based community at the same time.  The integration of the Spanish words and phrases, including the poetry works pretty well, although I would have done better if I'd known more Spanish, it's more than possible to read and enjoy this book without knowing any. Books like this one are important in meeting the needs of diverse students as well as opening student's eyes to different people and places.




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