Sunday, April 23, 2017

Spring Reading 2017 The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora


If you enjoy realistic fiction that deals with family, friends, community, and fighting for what you believe in - you should read The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora next. Arturo is a typical middle school student. He's happy about summer break and working in his family's restaurant to earn some spending money, while also dreading the weeks that his two best friends will be out of town. But things don't stay typical for long. For one thing, his mother's goddaughter Carmen comes into town. Carmen and her father are visiting for the summer, and they are both trying to recover from the loss of Carmen's mother. She is an intelligent and beautiful girl, so it is no surprise that Arturo develops a crush on her. Dealing with a first crush is enough of a challenge for one summer, but there is also his grandmother's failing health. His relationship with his Abuela is close, and she also gives him a box of letters from his Abuelo that capture his attention and inspire him to try new things. He draws upon the advice of his grandfather to have the courage to pursue the girl of his dreams, and to stand up to an unscrupulous land developer who threatens his family's restaurant with his plans for their neighborhood.

Filled with themes like the loss of a loved one, finding ways to preserve memories and traditions, dealing with attraction to a crush, and protecting the community from unwelcome changes, this is a story that has plenty of food for thought. There is also plenty of humor; things like his friend Bren trying to imitate his favorite rapper, his aunt Tuti's hysterical outbursts, and his disappointment at being named "junior lunchtime dishwasher" when he has hoped for a more glamorous job, all add the kind of laughs that occur in everyday life. The inclusion of Spanish phrases, descriptions of the foods served in the restaurant, and references to the Cuban poet Jose Marti immerse readers in the culture of Arturo's family and community, as well as giving a little background about the situation in Cuba that prompted his grandparents to come to America.

Middle grade readers and teachers will have a wonderful time following along as Arturo retells some of the most interesting weeks of his life (so far). As intriguing as a summer with Grandma Dowdell in A Year Down Yonder, I highly recommend it.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

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