Crazy Messy Beautiful
by Arcos, Carrie

Falling repeatedly in love but unable to succeed in the style of the poet who inspired his name, 16-year-old Neruda Diaz is partnered on a school assignment with a girl unlike anyone he typically falls for and discovers the magic and mess of a romance born from friendship. Simultaneous eBook.

Carrie Arcos ( was born in Albany, New York, and still mourns the day her family left for the West Coast. She earned an MA in creative writing and English literature and writes young-adult fiction. She has taught English—both high school and college. Carrie lives in Los Angeles with her husband and three children. She is also the author of National Book Award finalist Out of Reach, and There Will Come a Time. You can follow her on Twitter @carriearcos.

Names have power, and for Neruda Diaz, the name of "the Poet," Pablo Neruda, has shaped his conception of the world. Neruda longs to have a whirlwind romance as described in the Poet's works, but he must balance his ideas of romantic love with the reality of his father cheating on his mother, being forced to work with his nemesis on a mural, and his growing feelings for edgy goth girl Callie. As that relationship grows, the schism between his desire for love and his doubt in it grows wider. It is in learning more about who the Poet truly was that Neruda comes to understand that love is crazy, messy, and beautiful-like all of life. The book shines most in Neruda's interplay with Callie, who hides her artistic side behind her hard edges, and Ezra, a repentant ex-convict friend whose regret provides guidance for Neruda's challenges. Arcos has written a classic story of a budding artist finding out the reality behind the artifice, and does so while keeping a wonderful sense of humor. Copyright 2016 Booklist Reviews.

Neruda Diaz carries around his legendary namesake's poems, but they haven't helped him find the love he desperately seeks. Latino 16-year-old Neruda Diaz was named in tribute to his Chilean father and grandfather's favorite poet, Pablo Neruda. A talented portrait artist, Neruda is determined to achieve the kind of overwhelming love "The Poet" captured, but so far he's "unluckiest in love" and has fallen unrequitedly for eight different girls. When his English teacher assigns a biography project, Neruda ends up partnered with aloof, white classmate Callie Leibowitz, who turns out to love volleyball, classic movies, and makeup art. Their blossoming friendship makes Neruda wonder if Callie could be the one, but his concept of love begins to waver as he uncovers a family betrayal. Though less of an issues book than the author's previous titles (There Will Come a Time, 2014; Out of Reach, 2012), there's still plenty of thought-provoking substance to Arcos' third. The focus on the power of friendship (Neruda's best friend, Mexican-American Ezra, is a recently released ex-con ready to restart his life), art (visual, literary, even makeup), and family relationships makes this considerably more layered than the typical high school romance. Neruda is a great example of the sort of thoughtful and artistic male protagonist teen literature really needs. This satisfying and unconventional love story explores the various meanings of the word. (Fiction. 13-18) Copyright Kirkus 2016 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

the infinite ache

Her name was Ella. She had no other name. Ella was first, middle, and last, readily on my tongue and mind. She was older than me and a good head taller, but that didn’t matter. She was my world from eight a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday.
During class, Ella pulled me, as if with an invisible string, from stuffed animals to picture books to swings to a small sandbox. I killed dragons. I rescued cats. I held babies and played house. I was the prince to her princess. We celebrated with feasts of crackers, both goldfish and graham. We shared cut-up apples and slices of oranges like they were candy. We visited outer space on secret missions. We explored uncharted lands. The truth was I would have traveled with her anywhere.
My Ella.
I can still see her—straight shoulder-length black hair, bangs like freshly cut grass across her forehead, her brown arm in a cast during those last months, wide smile with two missing front bottom teeth. Her blue flowered dress dirty from playing. Her knees red and skinned from falling off her scooter. Broken scabs scattered across to reveal smooth white scars underneath.
Like all tragic love stories, she left me . . . for kindergarten at a different school. On our last day together, Ella gave me a kiss on my cheek. I was embarrassed and ran and hid from her, refusing to come out and say good-bye.
I never saw her again.
I blame Ella. She was the one who first showed me what a terribly beautiful and cruel thing love could be. I also blame The Poet. He gave words to my anguish and made me acutely aware of this infinite ache, a deep soul longing that came sometimes in the dark and lingered in the light. His words picked at a wound I didn’t even know was there until I read them. Now it’s impossible to close.
But Ella . . . Ella opened my heart and then broke it. Maybe I’ve been trying to fix it ever since.

Terms of Use   ©Copyright 2021 Follett School Solutions