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Spare Parts: Four Undocumented Teenagers, One Ugly Robot, and the Battle for the American Dream Paperback – December 2, 2014

4.7 out of 5 stars 136 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, December 2014: Spare Parts is the fantastic story of four Mexican-American teenagers struggling to find their place. An unlikely robotics competition becomes the focus of the narrative, but the story covers a lot of ground. By describing how these teens came together, author Joshua Davis gives us a succinct history of immigration and a micro-lesson in Arizona politics. It all leads to the a scene in a pool in Santa Barbara, CA—with each team member realizing how they fit on the team, and in their adopted homeland. – Amy Huff

Review

“Perhaps the most gripping popular-science book I have read.” ―Noel Sharkey, Nature

“A great feel-good tale of scrappy underdogs beating long odds. But there's more to the story, and Spare Parts illuminates the human side of two polarizing political issues: immigration and education . . . Spare Parts is a delightful book . . . A great American story.” ―Peter Carlson, The Washington Post

Spare Parts is an unforgettable tale of hope and human ingenuity. Against a backdrop of urban desert decay, a faltering school system, and our country's cutthroat immigration policies, Joshua Davis offers a moving testament to how teamwork, perseverance, and a few good teachers can lift up and empower even the humblest among us.” ―Héctor Tobar, author of Deep Down Dark

“It's the most American of stories: how determination and ingenuity can bring triumph over long odds. There are too few stories like these written about Latino students. Poignant and beautifully told, Spare Parts makes you feel their frustration at the obstacles and indignities faced by Cristian, Lorenzo, Luis, and Oscar--and to cheer as they rise to overcome each one of them. ” ―Sonia Nazario, author of Enrique's Journey

Spare Parts is one of those rare stories that grabs hold and doesn't let go. It's hilarious, sad, and beautifully told. It will make you think hard about what it means to be American and where we will find the next generation of talent.” ―Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail

“This is hands down my favorite kind of story: underdogs plus ingenuity plus pluck and dedication equals a deeply moving and touching narraitive. I love these kids!” ―Adam Savage, cohost of MythBusterst

“This is important reading.” ―Booklist (starred review)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: FSG Originals (December 2, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374534985
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374534981
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (136 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,791 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By T. Corson on August 21, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The DVD movie of the same name is an entertaining feel good story. However, this book reveals all the details and the true reality of these young men's lives. After reading this, it's plain to me that we need a more realistic plan for handling immigrants who came to this country illegally. The largely conservative voices on this matter would paint all illegal immigrants with a broad brush as criminals and undesirable. When some of those same illegal immigrants prove to be talented engineers who could contribute much to the U.S., yet they still have no path to becoming productive U.S. citizens, something is seriously wrong with our laws. Joshua Davis has written both a great story and an eye-opening view into our immigration laws. For those who think that illegal immigration is a black and white matter, I think this book will show you the shades of gray.

I highly recommend this inspiring, thoughtfully told story of going against the odds. I hope it inspires people to be kinder to each other and reach out a hand to help a fellow human being.
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This is the story about how high school kids, mostly illegal aliens from South American countries, and living in the barrios of eastern Phoenix come to win over the top colleges in the country in the Marine Advanced Technology Robotics Competition. Their ability to learn through doing, through finding ways to achieve what they want to build with virtually nothing but some PVC pipe and technical parts that they receive from expert in the robotics and other fields who respond to the kids because they are pationate to learn and succeed. Competitors, like MIT are college kids with $10,000 budgets to build the robot.

It is an inspiring and soul-lifting true story that everyone should read who feels like they are disadvantaged because of their race, their living conditions, their poor schooling. It also demonstrates that with a talented and devoted teacher, virtually nothing is impossible.
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I heard about this story from Science Friday on my public radio station. A movie has just been released based on this book, and Ira Flatow interviewed several of the boys who were involved. I quickly ordered the book, read it, and ordered another copy. I gave one to a Hispanic high schooler who needs to get fired up, and the other to a nonprofit that works with kids who have dropped out of school.

What the book teaches us is this: The way to re-engage marginal students is not to offer them remedial classes, but to stimulate them with a challenge that doesn't rely upon classroom skills. As soon as they decide that a mental challenge is interesting and important, they will discover all sorts of intellectual skills as they try to solve the puzzle. This is a must read.
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A really good story and I was sorry once it finished. From the very first page I was gripped by the story behind each of the teenagers involved. It truly reflects how given the right opportunity, the young can achieve things they never thought possible. I enjoyed it even more knowing it was a true story.
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If you think you don't need to read this because you saw the movie, think again. The movie was almost a work of fiction. This is an incredibly well written book that has you completely wrapped up in the lives of four amazing kids and their teacher. This is an important work and a step in understanding the problems with the way our country treats immigrant kids and their families. Davis really knows how to find and tell a great story.
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Enjoyed the story of the boys and their experiences, especially about how innovative they were on limited funds. Great take away. Last part kinda sad. It seems they could do so much if given the opportunities. On the other hand, are they happy
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A great true story of four Hispanic young men who have a moment of glory in the land of white geekdom. The aftermath isn't so grace as immigration, poverty and low expectations take their toll on their future. The title tells it all on many levels. The book also illustrates what a difference a great and caring teacher can make.
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inspirational story. recommended for teens who don't think they have what it takes. what's unfortunate in this story is the eventual outcome for some of the boys. this nation needs the kind of imagination and determination that these young men demonstrated. and their teachers/coaches can be better utilized.
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