The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora
Author: Pablo Cartaya
Publication Date: May 16th, 2017
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Synopsis: 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, summetime 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 girl 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 José Martí.
Pablo Cartaya has always been a hopeless romantic. In middle school he secretly loved reading Shakespeare’s sonnets (don’t tell anyone), and he once spent his allowance on roses for a girl he liked. He also wrote her eight poems. Bad ones. He’s been writing ever since. Pablo has worked in Cuban restaurants and the entertainment industry, and he graduated with an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. All of these experiences have helped him write stories that reflect his family, culture, and love of words. Pablo lives in Miami with his wife and two kids, surrounded by tías, tíos, cousins, and people who he calls cousins (but aren’t really his cousins). Learn more about Pablo at pablocartaya.com.
My personal (sort-of-funny, sort-of-serious) crush stor(ies)
Having a crush on someone is awkward and painful—at least for me it was. Actually, it was like that all the way through the first time I asked this really awesome girl out on a date over ten years ago. True story: I spent an entire week’s paycheck on that date. I went all out—sushi, jazz, fancy restaurant, and a nice walk where I talked about my love of musical theater. I know, super baller right? Except after that epic date I ate ramen noodles for two weeks because I had no money. Still, that massive sodium-inducing splurge resulted in the girl of my dreams sticking around and marrying the hopeless romantic that was, is, her husband.
Writing The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora I wanted to bring back every awkward childhood memory of having a crush. Arturo falls pretty hard for Carmen, a girl he’s known his whole life. He simply doesn’t know how to act around her! I wanted to give him the vulnerability that comes with those first butterflies of romantic feeling. I channeled every possible embarrassing love moment of my childhood and dumped it on Arturo. Poor kid. I dug deep and found one of the first times the pain of a crush hit me hard. Her name was Caroline. It was in Puerto de la Duquesa, Spain. I was thirteen.
My family and I used to travel to southern Spain for vacation, and we usually stayed in the quiet seaside town of Puerto de la Duquesa. One summer I met this girl named Caroline. Caroline was from London and was super sophisticated. She carried a small pocket Shakespeare with her and loved to read sonnets. We would sit on the balcony of
her villa, and she would read things like, “let me not to the nature of true minds admit impediments,” and fancy poetic lines like that. I was transfixed. She was so sophisticated and smart!
One rainy afternoon she convinced me to watch the movie, “Dirty Dancing”. After the movie she taught me dance moves that shook me to my core. I was totally Jennifer Grey in that scenario and she was Patrick Swayze. Totally. I was so taken by her that I bought my first ever roses for a girl. I wrote her bad poems. I actually found one the other day while preparing to write this piece. Here are a few lines, unedited and in their original, horrid glory:
A tender kiss may turn to ice,
If left too unattended.
It will steal your heart away,
And refuse it to be mended.
As evidenced by the tragic, awful rhyming schemes, my affections for Caroline were super-serious. Alas, it was completely unrequited. She liked me but what was the point, she said? We lived so far away. When summer was over and I had to leave and go back to New York, I was crushed. My heart ached. I longed to one day be reunited. Alas, it would never be. Caroline was left to the annals of my memory where she would reincarnate one day in a novel to confuse the heartstrings of my besotted hero. Like I said, poor, poor Arturo.
But the romantic spirit lives on! As I said, I met my one and we claimed each other’s hearts. Yay! So why tell you this? Well, because at the heart of The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora is a story of a kid learning about the many facets of first love. Arturo grows and learns to handle the pain and triumph of love in its many forms. Ultimately he decides the pain is totally worth it.
Enter for a chance to win one (1) of five (5) copies of The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya (ARV: $16.99 each).
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on May 15, 2017 and 12:00 AM on May 29, 2017. Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about June 2, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.
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May 17 – Folded Pages Distillery – Review
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May 19 – Margie’s Must Reads – Guest Post