Title Bad Luck Zach
Author Emerson Gamble
Genre Middle Grade, Fantasy, Adventure
Publisher Clifton Kenny Publishing
A young prodigy. A band of outcasts. An incredible adventure.
In San Diego's South Bay Middle School, Zach Larsson finds he just doesn't belong. He's too young, too smart, and too different; the perfect victim for bullying. The worse his luck gets, the more he dives into his writing to escape real life. Zach finds acceptance in a diverse group of unpopular kids. As their friendship grows, they discover his adventurous stories are bringing an astonishing mystery into real life. Their quest to solve it takes them across an ocean, and right back to face Zach's biggest fear. #BadLuckZach embraces second-language learning and the cultural mix that makes middle school life that much harder when it's right by the biggest international border crossing in the world.
My thoughts are wandering as I skate home. I can learn Spanish faster than most people, but every book I find has proper Spanish, like I’m at a formal dinner party in Madrid. Most kids at my school are like a mash-up of bad grammar, imperfect phonetics, and pop phrases with hidden meanings from two languages. I’ve never felt like I don’t belong so much in my whole life. Well, getting my face smashed in is a big part of that feeling, and that was just one idiot impressing his friends.
I search up my school’s website as I walk up the driveway to see what else I can find out about it. I tap on the link for the ethnic breakdown of the student population. My eyes widen. The kids in my school are sixty-nine percent Latinos, nineteen percent Pacific Islanders, five percent African American, five percent Asian, and two percent Caucasian. Two percent. Note to self: I am the minority. Wow.
I sit on the couch deep in thought. I always saw all different kinds of people as equal, but honestly, I never really knew any of them. I mean, almost everyone around me went to the same kind of church, had the same kind of house, spoke the same language, and had the same ethnicity. But now I can’t help wondering if this is how the one Jewish kid I knew felt, or the few African American kids in my old school. I never had to worry about this; being American to me meant almost everything and everyone was basically the same. When they’re not, it suddenly seems sort of scary. Is that a prejudice? I was always taught about equality, but from a place with almost no diversity. Well, there’s enough prejudice against me at school to get my butt whooped, I know that much. Pinche güey. Haha. That felt good.
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I’m one of the authors participating in the Dog Days of Summer Reading Giveaway and you can win an e-copy of Bad Luck Zach.
Runs August 1 - 31 and is open internationally for most prizes.
Winner will be drawn on September 1, 2020.
Emerson Gamble is an active elementary school teacher in Southern California. He enjoys writing in his spare time, as well as playing soccer, swimming, traveling, and teaching music lessons. Gamble has lived in the South Bay area described in #BadLuckZach for fifteen years and has received a degree in Spanish. Many cultural aspects of this story were based on his real life experiences of teaching and parenting in this unique area.
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