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.
In S enz's novel, 15-year-olds Aristotle and Dante struggle with the complexities and insecurities of growing up as they try to understand and navigate family secrets, their sexual identities, their identities as Mexican-Americans, and their increasingly complicated friendship. Lin-Manuel Miranda hands in a nuanced performance, capturing Ari's inner confusion and self-loathing, his unexpressed rage at his parents, and his mixed feelings about best friend Dante. Miranda is just as effective in capturing Dante, lending him an upbeat, likable, nerdy voice. For the book's other characters, the narrator takes an understated approach, allowing listeners to understand who is speaking to whom without creating full-fledged character voices. Because of Miranda's standout performance, listeners will truly understand these two boys as they travel the difficult journey toward becoming men. Ages 12-up. A Simon & Schuster hardcover.
You wont be able to put it down
I don’t review books very often, but I think this I’ll make an exception for this one. I read the whole book in just a couple hours and I almost cried (Or maybe did a little) a thousand times. I loved the ugly of the story and I loved the beautiful and so will you.
This book made me comfortable enough to come out publicly. This book showed me that there was no shame. This wonderfully, gorgeously written book, full of amazing themes of love, family, friends, race, sexuality, this book just amazes me, I've read it 3 times already. I wish I could personally thank the author for this beautiful book, but I guess for now this will have to do.
Some of my favorite memories are of times and people I met in 1986. I met my best friend, fell in love with the man I would marry and have three beautiful children with and learned more about myself and who I wanted to be than any other year. The summers were always full of memories with my best friend and my boyfriend. Movies, band practice, sitting in the room listening to Duran Duran, U2, Michael Bolton, Europe and Depeche Mode. My summers were a lot like Ari's. I spent a lot of time in my head trying to figure out what I would become; who I would turn out to be.
I loved this book so much that I read it in one sitting on a lazy Sunday afternoon before the Memorial Day holiday. I kept telling my husband how much I loved it and how much it reminded me of our summers. I drank lots of coffee, rushed through restroom breaks and immersed myself in a world where two young men learned more about themselves in their transition from boys to men, friends to more than friends. This is a book I'm going to give to my kids to read and one everyone should devour, discuss and dissect. It's a book of the heart and we should always follow our hearts.