Jen Bryant Books ;
The Fortune of Carmen Navarro
written by Jen Bryant
Knopf, 2010
ISBN 978-0-375-85759-1 (hardcover)
Yearling/ RHCB, 240 pp.
ISBN-13: 978-0-375-85097-4
Carmen Navarro rings up customers at the Quikmart, bored to tears. It’s a job, and she needs it. But Carmen’s true love is music: she dropped out of high school to sing with the Gypsy Lovers and land a recording contract, someday.
Just a few miles away, Ryan Sweeney hunches over his books, a studious cadet with his eye on West Point. There’s not a single girl at the Valley Forge Military Academy, and that’s fine by him.
But when Ryan, on a day pass from campus, spots Carmen, with her shining black hair and snake tattoo, his pulse quickens. Carmen, who normally rolls her eyes at the stiff Academy soldados, can tell this one is different. She slips him a note: “Come hear my band.” A romance begins, unlikely, passionate … and quickly imbalanced. In an enthralling narrative of obsessive love, the novel builds to a stunning close.
Inspired by the novella and opera Carmen, Jen Bryant creates a strong-minded and alluring heroine in this contemporary tale of tragic love.
Download this classroom guide.

Philadelphia Opera Company's Carmen

Metropolitan Opera synopsis of the opera Carmen

Read an excerpt.

Interview with Adventures in Children's Publishing

Interview with Samuel Hankin on WCHE

Interview with Jen by Shanetia Clark from Penn State University

Honors and Recognition
Winner of the 2011 Paterson Prize for Young People, gr. 7-12 category
A beautiful green-eyed Gypsy girl with raven-black hair smiles at Ryan Sweeney and gives him a rose as she makes change for his sandwiches at the Quikmart, and it’s all downhill for Ryan after that. A cadet at Valley Forge Military Academy, Ryan has always been serious and studious, his eyes set on West Point, but his sheltered existence leaves him defenseless against the charms of Carmen Navarro, a fiercely independent young woman who dreams of making it big with her band, the Gypsy Lovers, and has no interest in a relationship that will make her feel “like a hawk tied to a perch.” In a departure from her novels in verse, Bryant tells a tragic love story—based on Mérimée’s novella and Bizet’s opera Carmen—in traditional prose but with four voices: Carmen’s, Ryan’s and two friends’, who look on from an emotional distance. Perfectly paced and pulsing with Ryan’s increasingly desperate obsession, the tale follows the inevitable trajectory of violence and tragedy, and readers will consume the tale in one hungry gulp. (author’s note, bibliography) (Fiction. 12 & up) (Kirkus Review)
While others may characterize The Fortune of Carmen Navarro as a tale of tragic love, I cannot help but see it, instead, as the triumph of a girl with guts who is making her way on her own terms.
Read the longer review … (Richie's Picks)
The Fortune of Carmen Navarro
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