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The Fortune of Carmen Navarro Hardcover – November 9, 2010

3.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

r 8 Up–In the mid-19th-century novella and subsequent Georges Bizet opera, Carmen's feisty, independent spirit drives men to desperate actions. This modern-day adaption retains the fiery, self-determining heroine but adapts the rest of the story to Valley Forge, PA, with a teenage cast. Four voices alternate chapters: fortune-teller, singer, and high school dropout Carmen; her steadfast, practical best friend and fellow Spanish-speaker Maggie; Ryan, the dedicated military-school cadet (until he falls for Carmen, that is); and Ryan's not-so-rule-bound friend Will. Bryant flavors both of the girls' voices with the English grammar and sentence constructions of native Spanish speakers, giving both a Spanish accent with only very occasional use of Spanish words. Unfortunately, this is the only writing mechanism–beyond their points of view–that distinguishes the narrators' voices. Throughout the novel, Carmen, true to her namesake, remains unchangingly headstrong and self-centered, and Maggie and Will exist primarily to observe their friends for readers. Ryan's character develops the most as he morphs from a responsible straitlaced achiever into an unreasonably jealous and out-of-control lover. This quiet title has little action until its sudden, wild, gun-waving climax, and it's overly dramatic and simplistic in the style of a soap opera (which is reasonable, given its roots), but nonetheless it makes a good addition to YA collections. The novel's cultural issues plus its relatively short length equal a book that many teens–especially girls–will talk about.–Rhona Campbell, Washington, DC Public Library. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Bizet’s opera Carmen gets a modern retelling in Bryant’s brisk novel about the intoxicating gypsy who refuses to belong to any man. Carmen Navarro is a high-school dropout working at a convenience store while she writes music with her band, Gypsy Lovers, and waits for her big break. Ryan Sweeny is a conscientious junior at Valley Forge Military Academy whose future has been mapped out for him for as long as he can remember. When their paths cross, the connection is instantaneous. Ryan develops an intense passion for the beautiful girl. Carmen finds an unlikely muse in the shy cadet. Their relationship is observed by their closest friends, Maggie and Will, who know them well enough to realize that things will not end happily. Bryant stays close to the plot of the nineteenth-century French novella by Prosper Mérimée that inspired the opera, although she does allow her protagonists hope of individual success in the future. This should appeal to readers who like their love stories dramatically star-crossed. Grades 9-12. --Kara Dean
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 1010L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (November 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375857591
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375857591
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,288,222 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The Fortune of Carmen Navarro was a good read, but I definitely felt like there was something missing. I read this book in two days, because I was just waiting to find out that Carmen was a gypsy with a supernatural power of seduction or something like that! But, in the end that was not the case and it just fell flat for me. Don't get me wrong though the storyline is actually very good and different, being that it is based on an opera. So, if you are looking for a supernatural twist, this is not the book for you.

I really loved that this book was written in the perspectives of four people: Carmen, Ryan, Will, and Maggie. This was great because I never got bored and I got to venture into each of their personal lives.

Carmen is a sexy and beautiful girl who is half-gypsy. According to her best friend and `sister', Maggie, all the guys flock to her and she uses them for a short time and moves on. I actually liked Carmen and that may be because she's full of life and likes to have fun.

Carmen has a band called The Gypsy Lovers. She gets all her ideas and writes her songs based on her relationships. When Ryan and Will, cadets from the near-by military academy, visit the Quikmart where Carmen works, she writes a song about Ryan.

Ryan is shy and cute and Carmen of course decides to reel him into her `web'. Ryan is a straight-A student that studies hard and when he feels so connected with her he wants to forget about school. Then there's a twist, but I'm definitely not telling you what that is! I will tell you that Ryan loves Carmen and things get too serious, too quickly.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book, but it was just a side read, not one to absorb all your attention! A good quick read. :)
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Format: Hardcover
Carmen works as a cashier at the Quikmart with her best friend Maggie, who's earning cash to pay her way to college. Nothing is more important to Carmen than her music and band, The Gypsy Lovers, who may be getting a recording label soon. At the Valley Forge Military Academy across town are best friends Ryan, the serious and studious one, and Will, the jokester. One day when the two guys are buying sub sandwiches at the Quikmart, Ryan spots Carmen - and is instantly in love. The next few days, she's all he can think about it, and he knows they're meant for one another. But for Carmen, he's just another cute boy to have fun with, nothing more. A romance sparks between the two, but it quickly becomes very unbalanced.

Carmen was a different kind of protagonist than you would normally find in a romantic young adult novel. She was very independent and knew what she wanted, not a love-struck, giggly and flirty girl that we usually read about. I was instantly drawn to her character however I wanted more! I felt like she was still a little out of reach even after the story ended. Also, the novel is written in four characters' perspectives. A lot of times I felt like Maggie and Carmen, the two best friends who are practically sisters, were almost the same person. They had identical personalities and talked exactly the same. The only thing different was their passions: music and school/studying. And then there was the two cadets, Will and Ryan. They, two, seemed to mix into one person. I wasn't quite sure where Ryan and Maggie came into the big picture: they were just minor characters and never really contributed to the storyline but instead acted as fillers for space I thought.

I did think that the main storyline was creative and grabbed my attention.
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Format: Hardcover
The Fortune of Carmen Navarro is influenced by the musical, Carmen. Jen Byrant had a few things in mind even before writing the book of how she wanted it to turn out, slightly spoilish: "(1) Carmen would remain a fiercely independent young woman; (2) that a soldier (or a cadet at a military school) would fall in love with her; (3) that his desire for her would consume him and bring about his downfall; and (4) that their relationship would end in violence" (Byrant 228).

However despite the onslaught of drama and feministic influences The Fortune of Carmen Navarro was short of being spectacular. Told through 4 different perspectives, The Fortune of Carmen Navarro still lacks awareness in the character's mind or behavior. Rather than a trajectory of movement as their thoughts would ramble on and off, there just seemed to be one or two main ideas lodged in each character. The novel is of moderate length, but once you split the book between 4 different people, it makes it so much smaller. The Fortune of Carmen Navarro needed to be more fleshed out.

Carmen is "a fiercely independent young woman" that we're told is exotic, is beautiful and that despite dropping out of high school to work at the local Quikmart, is smart. She is ambitious. Carmen wants her name out there and her band to be in the biggest spotlight of all. But I found her highly unapproachable and unlikable. Carmen was very much, in my opinion, a difficult girl to befriend in real life: selfish, stubborn, headstrong, and so used to getting her way. Boys come and goes. Friends are very few and those few are mostly male.

Maggie is Carmen's best friend and as close as not blood related sisters can be. It is uncommon for the secondary character to have their own role in novels, but Maggie does.
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