Author: Benjamin Alire Saenz
Published: February 21, 2012
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Where I picked up my book: Library
Key Words: Realistic Fiction, Young Adult, LGBTQ+, Coming of Age, Family Dynamics
My Rating: 5 stars (more if I could)
Synopsis (via Goodreads):
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.
I couldn’t have loved this book any more if I tried. First, it was so beautiful (both the writing and the characters), it was real, brought out true emotions in me and highlighted diverse characters- more of this please! Second, life lessons are strewn throughout this book, but not necessarily as stand out points, but in this subtle way that makes you think, as a reader, you came to the conclusion yourself, but in reality, it’s the writing and characters that led you there. It’s so real. Third, the pace was slow and intentional…and exactly how life really is. So many novels, especially YA novels, take you on trips and adventures and show you characters who have made insanely large life decisions in 200 pages, but this book felt more true to life. More true to a teenage life with small, but important things happening, a few big whammies, and then a lot of mundane things in-between. Also…both sets of parents are everything. It’s rare to see genuine, honest parenting depicted in YA books, but here we have it and it was refreshing to see.
To be honest, I didn’t even know how much I was loving this book until I finished it. I’m not a huge crier during books, but I audibly wept and haven’t stopped thinking about these characters since I finished the book. This would be an excellent book club choice to explore identity, acceptance, family dynamics and how it feels to write your own life story, instead of following the life story that has been laid out for you. I highly recommend this book to people of all ages. I’ve said this multiple times to multiple people, but if more books like this were written, I truly believe the world would be a better place.