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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

4.9 71
by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
 

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This Printz Honor Book is a “tender, honest exploration of identity” (Publishers Weekly) that distills lyrical truths about family and friendship.

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

Overview

This Printz Honor Book is a “tender, honest exploration of identity” (Publishers Weekly) that distills lyrical truths about family and friendship.

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.

Editorial Reviews

Booklist
"Sáenez writes toward the end of the novel that “to be careful with people and words was a rare and beautiful thing.” And that’s exactly what Sáenez does—he treats his characters carefully, giving them space and time to find their place in the world, and to find each other...those struggling with their own sexuality may find it to be a thought-provoking read."
The Horn Book
"Ari’s first-person narrative—poetic, philosophical, honest—skillfully develops the relationship between the two boys from friendship to romance."
Library Media Connection
"Sáenz is a master at capturing the conversation of teens with each other and with the adults in their lives."
James Howe
"This book took my breath away. What gorgeous writing, and what a story! I loved both these boys. And their parents! Don't we all wish we had parents like theirs? The ending - and the way it unfolded - was so satisfying. I could go on and on...suffice it to say I will be highly recommending it to one and all. I'm sure I'll reread it myself at some point. I hated having it end."
Michael Cart
"I’m absolutely blown away. This is Saenz's best work by far...It’s a beautiful story, so beautifully told and so psychologically acute! Both Ari and Dante are simply great characters who will live on in my memory. Everything about the book is absolutely pitch perfect...It’s already my favorite book of the year!"
From the Publisher
"Primarily a character- and relationship-driven novel, written with patient and lyrical prose that explores the boys’ emotional lives with butterfly-wing delicacy."—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Judy Blundell
“Benjamin Alire Saenz is a writer with a sidewinder punch. Spare sentences connect resonant moments, and then he knocks you down with emotional truth. The story of Ari and Dante’s friendship widens and twists like a river, revealing truths about how hard love is, how family supports us, and how painfully deep you have to go to uncover an authentic self.”
Publishers Weekly
Fifteen-year-old Aristotle (Ari) has always felt lonely and distant from people until he meets Dante, a boy from another school who teaches him how to swim. As trust grows between the boys and they become friends (a first for Ari), Ari’s world opens up while they discuss life, art, literature, and their Mexican-American roots. Additionally, the influence of Dante’s warm, open family (they even have a “no secrets” rule) is shaping Ari’s relationship with his parents, particularly in regard to a family secret; Ari has an older brother in prison, who no one ever mentions. In a poetic coming-of-age story written in concise first-person narrative, Sáenz (Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood) crystallizes significant turning points in the boys’ relationship, especially as Ari comes to understand that Dante’s feelings for him extend beyond friendship. The story swells to a dramatic climax as Ari’s loyalties are tested, and he confronts his most deeply buried fears and desires. It’s a tender, honest exploration of identity and sexuality, and a passionate reminder that love—whether romantic or familial—should be open, free, and without shame. Ages 12–up. (Feb.)
VOYA
"Sáenz has written the greater love story, for his is the story of loving one’s self, of love between parents and children, and of the love that builds communities, in addition to the deepening love between two friends."
VOYA - Joanna Lima
Fifteen-year-old Aristotle "Ari" Mendoza prefers his own moodiness to the company of others. He is shadowed by memories of his incarcerated brother, of whom his parents never speak, while his father has nightmares of his service in the Vietnam War. In the heat of an El Paso summer, Ari unexpectedly makes a friend: Dante Quintana, an expressive boy who confesses to being crazy about his parents, swimming, art, and star-gazing. The boys hang out, explore their hometown, and—most importantly—laugh together. The Quintanas' easy family relationship helps Ari begin to understand the ghosts haunting his family, and the boys' parents also bond. The end of the summer is nearing when, in the midst of a rainstorm, Ari pushes Dante out of the path of an oncoming car, sustaining severe injuries himself. In the aftermath of the accident, as his body slowly heals, Ari wrestles with the meaning and consequences of his actions—what moved him to risk his life for Dante? How does saving a friend's life change the friendship? To answer his own questions, Ari must face the inevitability of growing from a boy to a man. Readers familiar with Dance on My Grave by Aidan Chambers (/Macmillan, 1983/VOYA October 1983) will find parallels in Saenz's novel. Dante and Ari are similar to Barry and Hal, though without their reckless behavior and unhealthy obsessions. Ultimately, Saenz has written the greater love story, for his is the story of loving one's self, of love between parents and children, and of the love that builds communities, in addition to the deepening love between two friends. Reviewer: Joanna Lima
Children's Literature - Peg Glisson
Fifteen-year-old Ari is a loner who is trying to figure out his place in the world when he meets Dante, a boy from another school. Despite their many economic, social, and personality differences, they quickly become best friends. It's complicated though; Ari wallows in his loneliness and anger caused by family secrets around his older brother who is in prison and his father's service in Vietnam. Dante, on the other hand, is outgoing, open, and erudite. The novel quietly and poetically explores family relationships, sexual and ethnic identity (both boys are Mexican Americans), heroism, PTSD, and drug and alcohol experimentation without being overwhelming. Ari narrates the story and it's easy to slide inside his mind as situations play out. He calls himself "inscrutable" and readily admits he doesn't understand himself—and neither does the reader who lives Ari's confusion, loneliness and anger throughout. Saenz never minimalizes or sensationalizes events and feelings; rather he quietly explores Ari's hesitant journey from childhood to manhood. Both boys have incredibly understanding parents, especially given that the story is set in Texas the 1980s. Otherwise characterizations are extremely well done, as is the novel's pacing. The book reads quickly, yet the reader feels suspended in time, living the year with Ari and Dante. As Ari confronts his deeply buried desires and fears, it's his parents who help him realize that making mistakes is part of life and encourage his taking off his self-imposed the blinders. As much about family, friendship, communication as it is about sexual identity, this is a truly powerful story. Reviewer: Peg Glisson
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—In the summer of 1987 in El Paso, TX, two 15-year-old loners meet when Dante offers to teach Ari to swim, and they have a laugh over their unusual names. Though polar opposites in most aspects other than age and Mexican heritage, the teens form an instant bond and become inseparable. This poetic novel takes Ari, brooding and quiet, and with a brother in prison, and Dante, open and intellectual, through a year and a half of change, discovering secrets, and crossing borders from which there is no return. Two incidents, one in which Ari saves Dante's life and his family's temporary move to Chicago, help Dante understand that he is gay and in love with his friend. Yet, Ari can't cross that line, and not until Dante is hospitalized in a gay-bashing incident does he begin to realize the true depth of the love he has for him. With the help of his formerly distant, Vietnam-damaged father, Ari is finally able to shed his shame—the shame of his anger, of his incarcerated brother, of being different—and transition from boy to man. While this novel is a bit too literary at times for some readers, its authentic teen and Latino dialogue should make it a popular choice.—Betty S. Evans, Missouri State University, Springfield
Kirkus Reviews
A boring summer stretches ahead of Ari, who at 15 feels hemmed in by a life filled with rules and family secrets. He doesn't know why his older brother is in prison, since his parents and adult sisters refuse to talk about it. His father also keeps his experience in Vietnam locked up inside. On a whim, Ari heads to the town swimming pool, where a boy he's never met offers to teach him to swim. Ari, a loner who's good in a fight, is caught off guard by the self-assured, artistic Dante. The two develop an easy friendship­, ribbing each other about who is more Mexican, discussing life's big questions, and wondering when they'll be old enough to take on the world. An accident near the end of summer complicates their friendship while bringing their families closer. Sáenz's interplay of poetic and ordinary speech beautifully captures this transitional time: " 'That's a very Dante question,' I said. 'That's a very Ari answer,' he said.… For a few minutes I wished that Dante and I lived in the universe of boys instead of the universe of almost-men." Plot elements come together at the midpoint as Ari, adding up the parts of his life, begins to define himself. Meticulous pacing and finely nuanced characters underpin the author's gift for affecting prose that illuminates the struggles within relationships. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781442408937
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date:
04/01/2014
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
331
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)
Lexile:
HL380L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

One

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
“Benjamin Alire Saenz is a writer with a sidewinder punch. Spare sentences connect resonant moments, and then he knocks you down with emotional truth. The story of Ari and Dante’s friendship widens and twists like a river, revealing truths about how hard love is, how family supports us, and how painfully deep you have to go to uncover an authentic self.”—Judy Blundell, National Book Award-winning author of What I Saw and How I Lied

"This book took my breath away. What gorgeous writing, and what a story! I loved both these boys. And their parents! Don't we all wish we had parents like theirs? The ending - and the way it unfolded - was so satisfying. I could go on and on...suffice it to say I will be highly recommending it to one and all. I'm sure I'll reread it myself at some point. I hated having it end." —James Howe, Author of Addie on the Inside

"I’m absolutely blown away. This is Saenz's best work by far...It’s a beautiful story, so beautifully told and so psychologically acute! Both Ari and Dante are simply great characters who will live on in my memory. Everything about the book is absolutely pitch perfect...It’s already my favorite book of the year!"—Michael Cart, Booklist columnist and YALSA past president

* "A tender, honest exploration of identity and sexuality, and a passionate reminder that love—whether romantic or familial—should be open, free, and without shame."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

* "Authentic teen and Latino dialogue should make it a popular choice."—School Library Journal, starred review

"Sáenez writes toward the end of the novel that “to be careful with people and words was a rare and beautiful thing.” And that’s exactly what Sáenez does—he treats his characters carefully, giving them space and time to find their place in the world, and to find each other...those struggling with their own sexuality may find it to be a thought-provoking read."—Booklist

"Sáenz has written the greater love story, for his is the story of loving one’s self, of love between parents and children, and of the love that builds communities, in addition to the deepening love between two friends."—VOYA

"Ari’s first-person narrative—poetic, philosophical, honest—skillfully develops the relationship between the two boys from friendship to romance."—The Horn Book

"Sáenz is a master at capturing the conversation of teens with each other and with the adults in their lives."—Library Media Connection, Recommended

"Primarily a character- and relationship-driven novel, written with patient and lyrical prose that explores the boys’ emotional lives with butterfly-wing delicacy."—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Meet the Author

Benjamin Alire Sáenz is an author of poetry and prose for adults and teens. He is the winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the American Book Award for his books for adults. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe was a Printz Honor Book, the Stonewall Award winner, the Pura Belpre Award winner, the Lambda Literary Award winner, and a finalist for the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award. His first novel for teens, Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood, was an ALA Top Ten Book for Young Adults and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His second book for teens, He Forgot to Say Goodbye, won the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award, the Southwest Book Award, and was named a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age. He teaches creative writing at the University of Texas, El Paso.

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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 71 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I devoured the entire book in less than 24 hours. Ive never been so cptivated by a book that it changed my whole take on life. BEST BOOK YOU WILL EVER READ! SO READ IT!!!!!
blue-pearl101 More than 1 year ago
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is a great novel. This book follows two teen boys and the journey through their friendship. Benjamin did a great job of displaying the theme of this book. Throughout the book you see the power of friendship. I really enjoyed this book because the author really captures the friendship between the two boys. Benjamin also knows how to capture your emotions in this book. He makes you fall in love with the characters within a short amount of time. This book is about two teen boys. The boys are very different in many ways. Aristotle has a hard time with words and struggles with self-doubt. Dante is very self-assured. The boys may not seem to be a good match, but once they meet they become instant friends. Throughout the book the boys form a special bond, discover themselves, and go on small adventures. Together they learn more about the world and face some big obstacles. But the power of friendship gets them through it. Through each other the boys learn some of the most important parts of life. This book was very captivating and was beautifully written. Once I started it I couldn’t put it down. Benjamin really knew how to grab a reader’s attention with the plot of this story. It went at a great pace and had characters that were easy to relate to. The style in which the author wrote this book was great. Hands down I would recommend this book to anyone who loves an emotional story full of twists and turns. In conclusion, I would definitely recommend this book. It was a very great story. It really captured the power of friendship and the struggles of falling in love with your best friend. I think Benjamin did a great job with this book. Anyone who loves a great story should read this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was truly beautiful. I was not concerned where it would end, because I just loved reading the words on the page in front of me. Even more, the dialogue made the whole piece flow, because it was not plagued with "he said." More importantly, I felt very comfortable reading this book because there were no glaring explicit events, yet in no way was it an easy or young read. For those who enjoy quality writing and have been bored with dystopian futures, please read. :)
Tina_Chan More than 1 year ago
¿Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe Author: Benjamin Alire Saenz ¿Genre: fiction Review:  Okay, this novel wins the "longest-book-title" award hands down. What a mouthful to say--really, say it out loud now. Aristotle. And. Dante. Discover. The. Secrets. Of. The. Universe. Okay, I'm done talking about the book's title and am ready to actually talk about the contents itself. I found the main character, Aristotle (also known as Ari) to be intriguing. He's only fifteen years old yet he already feels like an old man. He's a loner, but he doesn't get bullied because he can fight good enough to defend himself, but that doesn't mean he has friends either. Ari feels that he has life basically figured out: it sucked. At least that's the way his summer his looking so far until he meets Dante at the community pool. Ari can't swim. Dante can. Dante's also friendly, brave, smart and quirky. Ari accepts Dante's offer to teach him how to swim and they  quickly befriend each other. There really is not "climax" of the book (unless maybe if you count Ari getting severely injured to push Dante  out of the way of an out of control truck...but that happens like 1/3 into the novel so I don't think that's the climax). I think the plot of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is more of a slow burn type of plot. What I mean is that the novel is engaging enough so that it keeps you flipping the pages and then the tension increases some, and some more and some more until you HAVE to finish the book. (Fast burn plots are are-on-the-edge-of-your-seat pacing.) The writing was beautiful. Sure Ari is a somewhat troubled kid and may drop a few swears here and there...yet many of the chapters are  very poetic. Does that even make sense? Poetic swearing? Another thing about this book--the chapters are short. Like short shorts short. But I think it suits the book perfectly because each chapter tells a story. The story may be as big as describing an important event , or as small as conveying an emotion to the reader. This book is definitely a coming of age novel as the two boys struggle to discover themselves and find their place in the world. Here are  some of my favorite quotes from the book: "That afternoon, I learned two new words. 'Inscrutable.' And 'friend.' Words are different when they lived inside of you." "I returned to the book of poems. I read a  line and tried to understand it: 'from what we cannot hold the stars are made.' It was a beautiful thing to say, but I didn't know what it meant." "If I switched the letter my name [Ari] was Air. I thought it might be a great thing to be the air. I could be something and nothing at the  same time. I could be necessary and also invisible. Everyone would need me and no one would be able to see me." Likes: *touching story of friendship *many life lessons *interesting characters *unexpected twist at the end *friendship between Dante and Ari can be relatable (like when you share an inside joke with a friend and both burst out laughing when you see something that triggers it) Dislikes: *how the characters often repeated each others words
owltellyouaboutit More than 1 year ago
I had to give myself some space from this novel after I finished it because I was so floored. I’m still not sure I can capture exactly how it made me feel or how much I loved it. Aristotle, or Ari, is angsty and confused. He’s angry that his parents won’t talk to him about his brother, who’s in prison. He’s also a loner, never feeling like he quite fits in with other boys. Dante is a brilliant boy who tries to look on the brighter side of life. The two seem to have nothing in common, but learn a lot about themselves through their friendship. Ari and Dante are the kinds of characters that feel very real and jump off the page, but you would be hard-pressed to find real people like them. I loved the literary references, commentaries on different aspects of life, and their parents. It’s so easy to find YA books with parents who are either never around or are unsupportive. Ari and Dante have wonderful parents who love them, talk to them, and want them to be happy. I wish everyone could have parents like them. The writing was so beautiful that I immediately wanted to read everything Saenz has ever written. I liked that the LGBT elements weren’t of the in-your-face variety. It’s just genuine. I also loved their struggle with where they stand as Americans and Mexicans. It was so refreshing to read about these topics when they’re handled subtly and well. This book definitely deserves all of the acclaim and awards. The narration was good, but I had to let it grow on me. I wasn’t sure about his voice in the beginning. After listening to nearly the entire book in one sitting, his voices became the characters’ voices to me. I’m already re-reading this one in print to pick up on any quotes I might want to tag and I can still hear the narrator’s voices in my head. Go read this book now!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SUCH AN AMAZING BOOK? JUST READ IT!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love,love,love this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I fell in love with this book so quickly
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is honestly so beautiful. I finished the book in a day because I couldn't bring myself to put it down. I definitely recommend reading this book. The book is beautifully written and you can Learn a lot from it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If your looking for a fun and honest portrayal of young love this is it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ari has a hard time expressing his feelings and has no friends. Dante is optimistic and reads poetry and cries over dead birds. Together they hate tv and struggle with their mexican american identites.. they really are like little philosophers.
Rasseau More than 1 year ago
This book helped developed my relationship with my family, I extremely love Dante's 'no secret' part. And this story established my view of the world and the universe into a new higher level as I found Aristotal's notion of his life (miserable, confusing, lonely) pretty inspiring, and the process as he met Dante first at the swimming pool, puzzled by his optimistic characteristic and his logical life, lovely family and infinitive dream. On the other hand ,Aristotle's relationship with his father which I found the most attractive part. His father was a wordless man who once joined the army and endured great harm during the Vietnum warfare, Aristotle also inherited this disadvantage from his father-don't know how to express his own feelings and be with people defendlessly(Aristotle even hated to be a guy!) .
thenutellapanini More than 1 year ago
My favorite book in the universe. Really, so beautiful and tender and I just love all the characters, even Legs and Fidel. 
JonnMnz More than 1 year ago
Loved it. Doesn't have needless sappy drama like other YA books. I finished it in 2 days because I simply could not stop my self from reading it. I bought this on a whim and it was the best decision, you will not regret reading this story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book has left me speechless. The author is truly amazing with his words and the story is unforgettable. It's truly a book to read over and over again. I'm in love with this work and I can't believe I didn't read it sooner. I finished this book in 12 hours, crying all the while. The characters are real and funny, they're sarcastic and full of wit. They are so much more than I had ever expected from this book.  This book made my heart ache more than any other book I've ever read, and I've read The Fault in Our Stars and many other ones of the sort.
Anonymous 12 months ago
blamethebooks More than 1 year ago
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe tells the story of a young teenage boy named Aristotle, beginning in the summer between his sophomore and junior year of high school. Ari doesn't feel like he has any friends, and he always seems to be angry, yet he doesn't understand why. One day he meets Dante, a boy with a personality that is the complete antithesis of Ari's. Dante is happy and easygoing, he cares deeply about animals, and he is able to make friends everywhere he goes. We follow these two boys through the next year of their life, through happiness and sadness and injury and heartache. Typically I am really not a fan of contemporary novels, but I am so glad that I finally picked up this book. It is a book that celebrates and embraces diversity wonderfully. Benjamin Alire Sáenz has a beautiful, lyrical writing style that made all of the characters seem to jump off the page. The cast of characters felt so real, like normal teenage boys dealing with normal teenage boy worries, while their parents were trying to help them navigate through their teenage years. Something very unique and wonderful about this book is the presence and involvement of the boys' parents in their lives. Healthy family units are very rarely seen in young adult literature, and it was so refreshing to see both of these boys interacting with parents who genuinely cared about what was happening in their sons' lives. These families were not perfect, cookie-cutter households by any means, however. But that is what made their presence so special - the families had problems but they dealt with them together and supported each other. I am so used to reading about teens dealing with their problems all alone due to the absence of any kind of parental figure. Or, if an adult character is present, they are often portrayed as completely useless and not helpful to the teens at all. It was so nice to see parents that actually played a large role in the progression of the story. As we travel through this book with Ari and Dante, we learn lessons about acceptance and about love - familial love, love of oneself, and romantic love. Even though I would say one of the main themes of the book is love, it is not romance driven as most contemporary works are. This is not a love story - it is a story of love. If you have read this book, you will know what I mean by that. It is so much more than your typical love story. The boys must learn how to love and accept the problems of their families, their Mexican heritage, and the sexuality of themselves and others. I could not be happier that I decided to pick this book up and give it a try. If you are looking for a book to get you into the contemporary genre that isn't romance driven, this is it. If you are looking for a book that discusses diversity in the most wonderful way, this is it. If you are looking for a book that will make you laugh and cry and will warm your heart, this is it. This book had me crying tears of joy by the end because it was such a heartwarming and wonderful experience. Go give it a try! And Mr. Sáenz, wherever you are, please write more books because I will read them all!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Aah! It's such a beautiful story. Benjamin Alire Sáenz did a great job with this. I highly recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book makes me cry. Then again, it doesn't really take a lot to make me cry. But this book will always be special to me. It's so heartfelt and sweet that I'm honestly a little reluctant to read another book because I know it won't be as good as this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved everything about this book and never wanted it to end!! It's written so beautifully and personally and I immediately fell in love with the characters. Literally took my breath away multiple times.
Gab_B More than 1 year ago
I haven't read a book in one sitting in a long time. This book was impossible to put down. I read it all one morning and it is absolutely wonderful. I'm not so well spoken but I felt the need to give a rating and a review. I absolutely recommend this book to anyone. Such a great read.
MariahEllis More than 1 year ago
I have had this book on my shelf for a while. I cannot tell you the amount of times I picked it up, stared at the beautiful cover, and then told myself that I just was not in the mood. For some unknown reason, I thought this book was going to be very heavy and wordy and just ick. I AM SO GLAD TO SAY THAT I WAS WRONG! Oh my goodness, the feels! This book was pure perfection! It was so different and refreshing and the characters were lovely and I felt myself in them. If you haven't read this book yet, please, stop procrastinating. Don't be like I was. You need to read this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
260GMA More than 1 year ago
A wonderful and beautiful book. Masterfully written and characters that are just so real you do not wish to say goodbye to them all. I added the all because you easily fall in love with the dog 'Legs'. Two beautiful 14 year old boys start summer break in El Paso, Texas. As all young teens experience the boredom of summer so do these two young boys especially since both boys claim to not have any friends. The cause of the lack of friends they each agree is because they are not 'normal'. Good reason the make friends for the summer. As they learn about each other a bond of friendship is formed. This bond will take them through each year gathering new experiences until the summer prior to their senior year in high school. Yes, this a love story of two young boys. But I have to note that the parents of these children are also amazing characters even with their flaws. Each young man is written as a complex and delightful personality and it makes this book so enthralling and imaginative you cannot put it down. Expect to read it in one sitting. The author is the Mexican equivalent of an Ernest Hemingway. Although it is a young adult read this would and should be read by all ages. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK TO ALL.
BookWorm221 More than 1 year ago
There are no words to describe how wonderful this book really is, but I'm going to try to describe my feelings. Ari and Dante are beautiful characters, they are both kind of lonely but in different ways I think that was one of the things that pulled them together in the beginning, how they felt lonely but when they found each they didn't feel that way anymore, their friendship grew in that summer of 1987, they had many adventures, some ended well and others not so much, Dante was excellent at making Ari open up about his life once in a while and Dante also found in Ari and amazing friend. They are both written perfectly, the pains of growing up, of trying to figure out who you are, of trying to be more that what people say you are or you should be, to accept yourself and love who you are all of this and more is captured in the actions and words of Ari and Dante and it was so easy for me to go back in time to when I was 15 or 16 and how that felt for me. Now I want to talk about the parents! The parents are incredible, seriously, I mean Ari's parents are a bit more conservative sort of speak but just in the way they show love and how they show affection, because they are both so accepting so ready to be there for their son that is wonderful. And Dante's parents are more like his friends and I love that he says that he is crazy about his parents, their relationship is so open and full of love, they are not afraid to laugh, love and show affection, that is a very difficult thing for Ari to understand but he always goes with the flow. The characters in the book feel alive to me, they are always about to have a major emotional breakdown, well, maybe that's a bit to harsh, I just mean that their feelings are right there for us to see, are right there for them to feel. I absolutely loved this book, so so much, all of the references to being Mexican and from Mexico made me smile, being Mexican myself it was interesting to see what happens when people from my country go to the US and the period of adjustment that they have, not only being in a foreign place but like Dante who is I don't know third or second generation Mexican - American, to not feel Mexican or Mexican enough for his family and sort of be jealous or wonder what is like to feel a part of something like that.