Spare Parts: The True Story of Four Undocumented Teenagers, One Ugly Robot, and an Impossible Dream (Young Readers’ Edition)
Joshua Davis and Reyna Grande
Farrar, Straus, & Giroux
Published May 30, 2023
About Spare Parts
A riveting true story about dreams, dedication, and an amazing robot named Stinky, based on Joshua Davis’ New York Times bestseller and now adapted for young readers by bestselling Mexican American author Reyna Grande.
In 2004, four undocumented Mexican teenagers arrived at the national underwater robotics championship at the University of California, Santa Barbara. No one had ever told Oscar, Cristian, Luis, or Lorenzo that they would amount to much―until two inspiring high school science teachers convinced the boys to enter the competition. Up against some of the best collegiate engineers in the country, this team of underdogs from Phoenix, Arizona, scraped together spare parts and a few small donations to astound not only the competition’s judges but themselves, too.
Adapted by Reyna Grande―author of the acclaimed memoir The Distance Between Us about her experience as an undocumented child immigrant―this young readers’ edition of Joshua Davis’s New York Times bestseller showcases these students’ ingenuity and courage in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Timely and empowering, Spare Parts is an accessible introduction to STEM, immigration, and the reality of the American Dream.
I really enjoyed this book. It’s broken down into short sections about each boy’s life, telling of their early childhood in Mexico, what circumstances brought them and their families to the United States, and what the transition to school in the US was like for them. In each boy’s chapters, we learn about their family life and how robotics inspired them in different ways.
For example, Lorenzo grew up watching his godfather fix cars with few tools and lots of ingenuity. The experience taught him to think outside the box and find solutions that work rather than reaching for expensive, flashy materials. Meanwhile, Cristian developed a love for home improvement shows, which taught him how to build things and use different types of tools. Oscar excelled in JROTC, where he learned how to be a great leader and get things done.
The pacing of the book was excellent as well. I felt like the narrative spent just enough time on different parts of the story. Each scene was a puzzle piece, set in place and adding to the picture, taking shape as I read. The short sections and clear writing made this one a really fast read.
I wish there had been some pictures of the team and the robot included in the book. I’m reading a pre-release version, so it’s possible there are in the book available for purchase. I’m not sure, but I hope so.
All in all, I think SPARE PARTS (Young Readers Edition) is an inspiring story, perfect for readers interested in STEM or anyone looking for a heartwarming story about an underdog team rising to victory.
Recommended for Ages 10 to 14.
All four boys are from Mexican families. Three boys and their families are undocumented and living in the US. One, Luis, was eventually able to get a green card.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used very infrequently.
One boy prays to the Virgin Mary before the competition.
One boy gets into fights as a result of kids picking on him. All of them experience bullying at one time.
One boy’s father drinks alcohol often, leading him to avoid being home as much as possible.
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