Pablo Neruda is anything but your average teenage boy. In Carrie Arcos’s latest novel, Crazy Messy Beautiful, the chaotic, awkward, and also humorous moments of high school are explored through her new and brilliant new male protagonist, Neruda. With a genuinely funny plot, a cast of relatable and artsy main characters, and plenty of romance in the air, Crazy Messy Beautiful is sure to speak to anyone who has ever longed for love, been sparked by passion, or felt a bit out of place.
The story begins with Neruda, a young artist in search of love. He may be a gifted artist, but when it comes to girls, it’s an entirely different story. Neruda finds himself preoccupied with finding love, at least until he’s assigned a school project that makes him connect with a girl he never expected to befriend and possibly fall for. With a developing relationship with his pen pal from prison and his newly found friendship with Callie, everything seems right; but, as fate always proves, life is sure to be “crazy, messy,” and very “beautiful.” Now, as he works on a mural with a boy he hates and develops feelings for a girl he hardly knows, Neruda’s life begins to unravel and change completely — both for the better and for the worse. With classroom fights, plenty of LA murals, and parental drama, Neruda brings a unique voice to young adult readers; virtually anyone can relate to his plight and his search for love and passion.
In short, Crazy Messy Beautiful was absolutely stunning. From the very first page, Neruda’s voice is striking, filled with humor and also a longing that was beautiful to experience. Having been a long time fan of Arcos’s previous work, it was very nostalgic to experience yet another one of her wonderfully crafted novels. While I’m not an artist myself, I was very intrigued with Neruda’s artistic mind, his view of the world, and his view of art itself. While I think the story may feel a bit more relatable to male readers, due to the honest male perspective, I think virtually any teen will find great pleasure while reading this novel. While there are many contemporary YA novels on the shelves today, I can say with certainty that this is a story that will stick in my mind for a long time; Neruda is one of my very favorite YA male protagonists.
Neruda is looking for love but in all the wrong places. Who knew a school project could change one’s life forever? Crazy Messy Beautiful brings to life the struggles and wonder of adolescence — a time of confusion, self-discovery, and countless awkward moments. Pick up your copy of Carrie Arcos’s latest, and meet Pablo Neruda yourself, a character whose personal and achingly real narrative is sure to leave an impact.