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The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  1,832 ratings  ·  405 reviews
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 su
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published May 16th 2017 by Viking Books for Young Readers
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Isabel Throughout the book, it is constantly said by the members of the Zamora family, like Abuela, Abuelo, and Arturo that 'The most important, love and…moreThroughout the book, it is constantly said by the members of the Zamora family, like Abuela, Abuelo, and Arturo that 'The most important, love and faith', or 'lo mas importante, el el amor y la fe'(less)
Jennifer It is about a 5th grade level. The difficult part is the Spanish that is throughout the book. You have to be a good detective and use the context…moreIt is about a 5th grade level. The difficult part is the Spanish that is throughout the book. You have to be a good detective and use the context clues to figure out what has been said. It can be done. Of course, if you know Spanish, it is pretty easy to read. (less)

Community Reviews

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3.96  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,832 ratings  ·  405 reviews

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May 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
So here's an unintended consequence of our Tangerine Hitler in Chief -- you can now make the villain in a children's book just as grotesque and childish as you like.

Where previously I might have read the soulless real estate developer bent on destroying Arturo's family's restaurant as cartoonish and unrealistic, now I get that someone just like "Wilfrido Pipo" has surely been taking down honest businesses for decades, and with the same lack of subtlety.

Also, this is a fantastic book.
Brenda Kahn
Reading this debut was like being enfolded into Arturo's Abuela's warm hugs. It was like meeting a family for the first time and feeling as comfortable as if you've known them forever. Arturo's voice is earnest and awkward and at times, hilarious but always genuine.

Reread this with my ears when I heard the author was the narrator. Well done performance. Still love the book.
Jillian Heise
I adored this book & Arturo's journey! I was surrounded by warm feelings about family and community and culture and the power of speaking out and sticking up for who and what you love, and how much more difficult that is as an adolescent.
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: by-and-about-poc
A touching middle grade story about family, food, poetry, community, first crushes, and the fight against gentrification. Loved the incorporation of poetry into the story, notably poems by Cuban revolutionary José Martí.
Brandy Painter
Nov 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Originally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.

The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya is a book I found via the new arrival shelf at the library. (Yay libraries!) I am so happy I found it too. It is an excellent book about family and community centered around the Cuban restaurant Arturo's family owns.

Arturo has high hopes for the summer. He will be working in his family's restaurant earning money. His mom's goddaughter, Carmen, is visiting and suddenly he is feeling all kinds
Great book for 5-8 graders!
Oct 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It's a beautiful novel about family and community. You can feel the panic building and building up to Arturo's fail, and the tension increasing even after that. (view spoiler)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Melissa Mcavoy
I'm afraid I found this a bit of a snooze fest. I loved the Spanish-American culture. I loved the extended family and the relationship with the abuela. The evil real-estate developer was embarrassingly two dimensional.. the love interest was wooden and I had a hard time believing in any of the verbal exchanges. For me the story never came to life. Even the ending left a weird taste as the family violated the Federal Clean Water Act.
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Interest Level: 5-8; Reading Level: 5.7

If you knew that your family home and your family business was in jeopardy of being destroyed, would you have the guts to stand up and fight for it, or would you sit back and watch it happen? Arturo's vastly large family all lives in one apartment complex community within steps from the family restaurant, La Cocina de la Isla. Arturo has his family, his two best friends, and it is summertime which means basketball, working at the restaurant, and his Abuela'
Shaye Miller
Sep 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
After reading and enjoying Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish two weeks ago, this earlier work of Cartaya’s was recommended reading. So I didn’t skip a beat to get my hands on a copy. Arturo Zamora was born into a close-knit family that runs a well-loved restaurant. During this summer, his mother’s goddaughter, Carmen, visits and introduces him to new poetry. But he’s suddenly feeling all sorts of awkward and confusing feelings about her (someone he’s usually seen like family). At the same time, ...more
Westminster Library
Arturo Zamora is looking forward to another chill summer working at his family restaurant La Cocina but then a few things occur. First he gets “promoted” to assistant prep kitchen dishwasher and then a strange guy called Wilfrido Pipo starts hanging around the neighborhood and letting people know he has big plans for the area- plans that may or may not include La Cocina. If this wasn’t enough, Arturo’s mom’s goddaughter is visiting from Spain and Arturo finds himself acting weird around her for ...more
May 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: recommendations
Can you imagine what it would be like if your family owned a restaurant? Or if you lived in the same apartment complex as ALL of your relatives, including family friends? Arturo Zamora does both. His family’s restaurant works hard to feed the community, bringing smiles to everyone who walks in the door. It stays that way until one day, when a developer comes to town. He wants to replace the restaurant with a fancy new building, which will have a pool, a gym, and other things. This is a sweet mid ...more
I loved the cultural aspect of this book -- it makes me want to find out more about Cuba and its people. I loved the families in the book and I loved the way the conflict/s were presented and resolved. The main character -- all the characters -- in the book are wonderful. They are characters that, now that I'm done with the book, I miss them! That's the best indicator of a good book in my view! Great read!
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya, is about a boy named Arturo who has a huge family. There family owns the restaurant La Cocina in Miami. This summer was going to be the best summer ever before Carmen, a beautiful girl who loves poetry, and Pipo, a salesman with a mysterious business, shows up and flips Arturo's feelings and life upside down. Will he be able to do it all or will it be an epic fail. This book is amazing Pablo Cartaya is an amazing writer and I suggest this book for ...more
Abby Johnson
Why did I wait so long to pick up this book?! I really enjoyed it. Teresa tried to tell me. This is a funny and heartfelt story about a Cuban American family trying to save their restaurant when developers want to move in and gentrify their neighborhood. Hand to middle schoolers who like character-driven books that are both funny and serious and any kids who are driven to make a difference in their world. The audiobook is read by the author who is also an actor and he reads it really well with s ...more
The warm sense of family and values that emanates from this book is wonderful. Great plot, colorful, perfectly flawed characters. Highly recommend
May 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
A pretty slow start but it gets a lot better.
Rummanah (Books in the Spotlight)
The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora is a warm and at times heartbreaking story filled with family, tradition, and community. Every summer Arturo is looking forward to a Miami summer filled with friends, ice cream, and working at his family’s popular restaurant, La Cocina de la Isla, but his plans get derailed from the start. Carmen, his mother’s goddaughter, comes to visit, and Arturo may have a crush on her. He is confused whether or not he and Carmen are related. His "promotion" at the restaurant i ...more
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I adore coming-of-age stories, so I was delighted when I was invited to join the blog tour for The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora.

Thirteen-year-old Arturo Zamora is ready to take on summer vacation by storm. But a land developer brings new challenges to him and his family, as he tries to pursue a new high rise building, where Arturo's family restaurant stands. It's now up to Arturo, and his eclectic group of friends, to try and fight back, and save La Cocina.

What I love about Pablo Cartaya's novel
Vernon Area Public Library KIDS
Arturo's summer is usually relaxing. This summer, his family's restaurant business is threatened and he and his family need to make the community see that new and flashy is not always better. Arturo finds strength as he fights for what is important to him while dealing with his feelings about the first girl he really likes. Arturo's wonderful, close family is at the heart of this book and makes it a joy to read. Recommended for children in grades 4-8.
Reviewed by Carol Kaner, Youth and School Ser
Leonard Kim
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
Somewhat comparable to Amina's Voice and I think as good, even though my impression is that Khan's book is getting more buzz. Oddly it's in the cookbook at the end that the voice seems most comfortable in its own skin. In the main text, the several ingredients don't come together as well for me. Maybe there are too many characters?
Shauna Yusko
Perfect for grades 5-8. Should be on every library shelf.
Chacha Centeno
I expect this book to get nominated for awards, it's amazing!!!!! Love it, plan to read it again.
Richie Partington
Apr 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Richie’s Picks: THE EPIC FAIL OF ARTURO ZAMORA by Pablo Cartaya, Viking, May 2017, 256p., ISBN: 978-1-101-99723-9

“Sometimes change comes at you like a broadside accident.”
-- Joni Mitchell, “Good Friends” (1985)

“For many years, the Mission has been the battleground for protests over evictions, tech shuttles, gentrification, and the soaring cost of living.
Yet in San Francisco’s oldest neighborhood, the issues are more complicated than two sides of a sharply divided protest. The Mission’s longtime
Rustin Verret
Arturo loves his family. He has a gigantic Miami family and the head of the table is Arturo's grandmother, who immigrated from Cuba. Arturo's two best friends are leaving this summer and he's stuck with his family at their restaurant, La Cocina de la Isla, for the whole summer. But things start to get interesting when two new people. One, his attractive godsister, Carmen, whose mom recently died. The other is a business owner, Wilfrido Pipo, who wants to take away the new land that La Cocina de ...more
Feb 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-6-8
Arturo's family is very close knit. His grandparents and their family emigrated to Florida from Cuba in the early 1980's. They created La Cosina Isla, a restaurant that was popular with other emigres and tourists as well. When Abuela retired, Arturo's mother took over the cooking, but Abuela still came to the restaurant so see friends and make all guests feel most welcome. Arturo's cousins and other relatives helped with the restaurant. They all lived near it in a family owned apartment building ...more
Jun 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful, poignant and soulful book.

Arturo is a third-generation Cuban-American, and this story is about his family's legacy and whether he wants to stand up in his community to protect it.

Arturo is deeply close to his grandparents, especially his abuela, who is of failing health, and he spends much of his time helping her reminisce with letters and poetry of his departed abuelo, who was a huge fan of Jose Marti.

Almost with a nod to Kwame Alexander or Sherman Alexie, this book tack
Ms. Patterson
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This summer Arturo knows he'll be helping out at his Abuela's restaurant. It's what everyone in his family does. La Cocina de la Isla is a staple in his Miami neighborhood, having been opened for nineteen years. When a new businessman moves in and threatens to tear down the restaurant, Arturo joins forces Carmen, a family friend and his current crush, to find a way to save the day (and his family's restaurant).

This story is a cute, quick read. Yes, it's predictable, but read it anyway. I loved h
Jayce Senter
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Originally posted here at In the Senter of it All

This book was in our 5th grade mock newbery this year. Our kids LOVED it! It appeals to boys and girls alike and is funny and moving, sometimes all at once!

The book opens on Arturo locked up, swearing off love and reminiscing over his epic fail.

Arturo’s family’s restaurant is in trouble. His abuela started her Cuban restaurant 19 years ago and it is a staple in the community not to mention the center of his very large family. Now a new d
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Pablo Cartaya is a professional code switcher and lover of all things Latinx. He talks a lot and writes a lot which are paradoxical conundrums to overcome on a daily basis. He is the author of the acclaimed middle-grade novel, The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora (Viking Children’s Books/Penguin Random House) which earned him a Publisher's Weekly "Flying Start" and starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, ...more