Crazy Messy Beautiful

Carrie Arcos. Philomel, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-399-17553-4
For 16-year-old Neruda Diaz, love is a mystery, maybe the mystery. He comes by his fixation honestly: he’s named after Chilean love poet Pablo Neruda, his parents are still in love, and he thinks that beautiful Autumn Cho might be the one for him. Then mystery turns tragic: Neruda’s parents’ marriage is less stable than he thought, and—like her predecessors—Autumn isn’t interested. Neruda gets to paint a mural at school, but has to work with a guy he hates, and he and a girl he barely knows have to interview each other for a class assignment. Arcos (There Will Come a Time) makes Neruda thoughtful and real, and Callie Leibowitz, that near stranger from school, is tough, funny, and interesting. Neruda is half Chilean, his Los Angeles is realistically diverse, and he’s a reflective, engaging protagonist. Arcos capably probes the mysterious without attempting to solve it as Neruda discovers the difference between crushing on someone he doesn’t know and loving someone he does, learning that friendship, too, is a kind of love. Ages 12–up. Agent: Kerry Sparks, Levine Greenberg Rostan. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 11/28/2016
Release date: 02/07/2017
Compact Disc - 978-1-5247-4976-7
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