Spare Parts: Four Undocumented Teenagers, One Ugly Robot, and the Battle for the American Dream

Author(s): Joshua Davis

Junior/Middle Fiction

Four undocumented Mexican American students, two great teachers, one robot-building contest . . . and a major motion picture In 2004, four Latino teenagers arrived at the Marine Advanced Technology Education Robotics Competition at the University of California, Santa Barbara. They were born in Mexico but raised in Phoenix, Arizona, where they attended an underfunded public high school. No one had ever suggested to Oscar, Cristian, Luis, or Lorenzo that they might amount to much--but two inspiring science teachers had convinced these impoverished, undocumented kids from the desert who had never even seen the ocean that they should try to build an underwater robot. And build a robot they did. Their robot wasn't pretty, especially compared to those of the competition. They were going up against some of the best collegiate engineers in the country, including a team from MIT backed by a $10,000 grant from ExxonMobil. The Phoenix teenagers had scraped together less than $1,000 and built their robot out of scavenged parts. This was never a level competition--and yet, against all odds . . . they won! But this is just the beginning for these four, whose story--which became a key inspiration to the DREAMers movement--will go on to include first-generation college graduations, deportation, bean-picking in Mexico, and service in Afghanistan. Joshua Davis's "Spare Parts "is a story about overcoming insurmountable odds and four young men who proved they were among the most patriotic and talented Americans in this country--even as the country tried to kick them out.


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""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." --Hector Tobar, author of "Deep Down Dark"""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"

Joshua Davis has been a contributing editor at "Wired "for a decade and is the cofounder of "Epic "magazine ( He is the author of "The Underdog," a memoir about his experi- ences as an arm wrestler, backward runner, and matador. In 2014, his work for "Wired "was nominated for a National Magazine Award for feature writing. He has also written for "The New Yorker "and other periodicals, and his writing is anthologized in the 2012 edition of "Best American Science and Nature Writing," as well as in the 2006, 2007, and 2009 editions of "Best Technology Writing." The movie "Spare Parts "is based on his reporting. He lives in San Francisco with his family.

General Fields

  • : 9780374534981
  • : Farrar, Straus & Giroux Inc
  • : Farrar, Straus & Giroux Inc
  • : 0.454
  • : November 2014
  • : 210mm X 140mm X 16mm
  • : United States
  • : December 2014
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Joshua Davis
  • : Paperback / softback
  • : 240