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!