Crazy, Messy, Beautiful

320p. ebook available. Philomel. Feb. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399175534.
Gr 9 Up—Neruda Wayne Diaz is a 16-year-old boy who is in love with Autumn Cho. He is named after the famed Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. Neruda doesn't let having dysgraphia, a learning disability that affects how a person processes information, prevent him from being the artist he knows he is destined to become. It is through his art that he understands the complexities of people, like his classmate and soon-to-be friend Callie. His English teacher Mr. Nelson teams up classmates, and each student has to research his or her partner. Neruda is forced to put his thoughts onto paper—the same way he did back in eighth grade with his imprisoned pen pal, Ezra. It is the task of processing information that begins to conflict with Neruda's emotions as he tries to understand himself vicariously through his namesake, all while he has a growing suspicion about his father's infidelity. He questions whether his true love is right in front of him versus the girl he has admired from afar. From the very beginning, the author will pull in readers in this page-turning story of love and friendship. The narrative is believably told from the point of view of a relatable teen who is really connected to himself and his family. It is refreshing to read about a boy whose quest for love is mature and poetic. Arcos serves up a captivating work that is recommend for anyone who enjoys a fresh take on love.
VERDICT A strong choice for libraries serving teens.

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