Middle School May 2019August 1st, 2018 | Posted by in 2018-2019 | 2018-2019 Middle School | Middle School | May
Cartaya, Pablo. The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora. Viking, 2017. 236 pages (978–1–101–99723–9)
Arturo lives in an apartment complex in Miami along with most of the rest of his extended, closeknit, sometimes chaotic Cuban American family. At the center of their lives are Abuela and La Cocina de la Isla, the restaurant she began with Arturo’s late grandfather. With Abuela’s health in question, no one wants to tell her about the threat to the proposed expansion of the restaurant into the empty lot next door: a new, buffoonish developer in town has plans for an upscale high-rise. At the heart of this lively story are important questions: How do communities shape and value individuals? How do individuals shape communities? How do differing ideas of what constitutes “progress,” including gentrification, impact community, and the family that community can be? They are explored in a blithe narrative featuring a slightly lovesick middle schooler (Arturo is trying to figure out if visiting Carmen likes him the same way he likes her) trying to help his family convince the city council to vote in favor of their restaurant’s proposal. Arturo finds inspiration for both his ideals and love in the poetry of Jose Martí, the Cuban poet and activist whom, he learns, his late grandfather loved (and Carmen does, too). ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center
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