When your namesake is Pablo Neruda—the greatest love poet of all time—finding “the one” should be easy. After all, sixteen-year-old aspiring artist Neruda Diaz has been in love many times before. So it’s only a matter of time before someone loves him back.
Callie could be that someone. She’s creative and edgy, and nothing like the girls Neruda typically falls for, so when a school assignment brings them together, he is pleasantly surprised to learn they have a lot in common. With his true love in reach and his artistic ambitions on track, everything is finally coming together.
But as Neruda begins to fall faster and harder than ever before, he is blindsided by the complicated nature of love—and art—in more ways than one. And when the relationships he’s looked to for guidance threaten to implode, Neruda must confront the reality that love is crazier, messier, and more beautiful than he ever realized—and riskier, too, than simply saying the words.
Praise for Crazy Messy Beautiful:
"This satisfying and unconventional love story explores the various meanings of the word." --Kirkus Reviews
"Arcos has written a classic story of a budding artist finding out the reality behind the artifice, and does sowhile keeping a wonderful sense of humor." --Booklist
"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." --Publishers Weekly
"With readily relatable characters who, nonetheless, surprise readers as they tackle life’s many challenges and gifts, Crazy Messy Beautiful . . . explores the complexities of human emotions, aspirations, creativity, and relationships. This eminently readable book will appeal to male and female readers alike." --VOYA
"The thematic thread of love as work between flawed people is woven through both language and situations, its subtlety affording different readings; romantics like Neruda will empathize with his frustration and failures, while more pragmatic readers may feel wryly superior and even slightly amused at the ways his heightened expectations butt up against modern high school life and characters."--BCCB
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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.
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.