A Time Best YA Book of All Time (2021)
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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
The first book in Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s tender coming-of-age series finds Mexican American teenagers Aristotle “Ari” Mendoza and Dante Quintana navigating life in El Paso, Texas, during the late 1980s. When outgoing Dante befriends Ari, a loner harboring dark family secrets, they develop an intensely emotional bond. But their relationship is tested one day when Ari instinctively saves Dante’s life, enduring serious injuries as a result. As both friends deal with the ramifications of Ari’s actions, they form a deeper connection than either boy quite knows how to handle. Poet and children’s book author Sáenz explores his protagonists’ path to self-discovery with such sensitivity that we couldn’t wait to read the next chapter of this heartwarming love story.
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, S enz (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.
I have so many things to say about this book, about how easy and relatable both Dante and Ari are and how I feel personally connected to them and their struggles. Please read omg
Aristotle and Dante
This book was so overwhelming and beautifully written, I never felt so much emotion while reading a book. Wow, just wow.