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Arturo Zamora lives in a tight-knit community in Miami. His Abuela owns La Cocina de la Isla, a local Cuban restaurant. His entire family lives in his apartment complex. And he knows almost all of his neighbors because they like to frequent Abuela’s restaurant. But when a land developer comes to remodel the town all that Arturo loves about his community is about to change. Arturo refuses to let his family and community go down without a fight. Read The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya to discover if Arturo is able to save all that he holds dear.

This is a beautiful and soulful story about family, community, love, first crushes, poetry, and the fight against gentrification. I loved the incorporation of Spanish and English vocabulary in the story as well as the poetry from Cuban revolutionary José Martí. It illuminates the role Arturo’s heritage plays in his everyday life and circumstances. Arturo is such a fun character. He’s passionate about what is dear to him, funny with the right mix of seriousness, and fiercely dedicated to his friends and family. It was a pleasure to read his story. Plus, the ending is so perfect. 

Take a look at how his story begins. I bet you’ll want to dive right into his story and learn more about his big, epic fail!

Note to self:

“I’m officially resigning from love. Time is a cell will do that to a kid. For the record: I didn’t do it. Well, I didn’t mean for what I did to blow up in my face. This should have been the best night of my life. I was going to save the restaurant. Save the town. Get the girl. Make Abuela proud. I imagined myself riding a tan horse into the summer sunset, swatting any mosquito that tried to sting my awesomeness. Instead I’m locked in a small room that smells like chorizo and stale popcorn while my archenemy continues to brainwash the community with reggaeton and free sunscreen.”

Verdict: Readers who enjoy Kwame Alexander and Sherman Alexie are sure to enjoy this debut novel.

About the author: Pablo Cartaya

“Pablo 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”

*This author section is from his author’s page at Penguin Random House


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