A lyrical novel about family and friendship from critically acclaimed author Benjamin Alire Sáenz.
Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship–the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.
SPOILER because I’m annoyed by the book description: By “friendship,” the paragraph above means BOYFRIENDS. This book is queer as hell and so cute.
This book is lovely. I read it for the first time in one day, staying up until 2:00 in the morning because I couldn’t sleep until I had the whole thing finished. This book has everything I love – friendship and the awkwardness of a new romance, families that are deeply scarred but deeply loving, introspective thoughts about growing up and finding yourself. And the whole thing is told in Saenz’s beautifully simplistic prose.
I honestly don’t know how to describe how awesome this book is. Aristotle (Ari) is a loner because he lives too much in his own head, burying himself under pain and doubt and confusion. Dante is a loner because he is too enthusiastic, too smart and too concerned with beauty and life. Together they complete each other, in both stupid and meaningful ways.
I loved the subtle comparisons between Ari and Dante’s relationships and those of their parents. Seems like quiet melancholy people need outgoing emotional people and vice versa. Relationship dynamics are so fascinating to me, and it was cool to see three different variations on the same theme of opposites attracting and complementing one another.
Underlying all the relationships is Ari’s struggle with growing up. Everything is changing for him, and he doesn’t know how to be himself. I’m a huge fan of coming-of-age stories, and Ari’s introspective nature makes for a really wonderful look inside an adolescent’s head.
This book is so fantastic, I wish I could read it again for the first time over and over.
NOTE: The audiobook is read by Lin-Manuel Miranda, so do yourself a favor and read the hard copy AND listen to the audiobook.