This book had me curious when it swept the ALA awards
with 3 wins and this book definitely deserves all of them and more. Aristotle
(or Ari) and Dante don't obviously have much in common except their Mexican
heritage, but somehow manage to become good friends. Ari is an angry teen
coping with the ghost of his older brother and his father's time in the
Vietnam War while Dante is openly expressive and has an easy family
relationship. That friendship is cemented when Ari saves Dante from a hit and
run gettinginjured in the process. When a friend risks his or her life to
save yours, how does that friendship change? And when Dante comes out as gay,
how does that affect the friendship? Saenz writes a lovely exploration of
friendship and love - love of one's self, love between a parent and child and
love between friends. His prose is lyrical and portrays a depth of emotion
that transcends the page. This easily is one of my favorite reads of this
year and it's not even halfway to the end of the year yet! If you
like A.S. King's Ask the Passengers, I would definitely recommend you give
this a try!
* "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
* "Meticulous pacing and finely nuanced characters underpin the author's gift for affecting prose that illuminates the struggles within relationships."
-Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Sáenz 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 Sáenz 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."
"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."
"Ari’s first-person narrative—poetic, philosophical, honest—skillfully develops the relationship between the two boys from friendship to romance."
-The Horn Book
"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
"Sáenz is a master at capturing the conversation of teens with each other and with the adults in their lives."
-Library Media Connection, Recommended
"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
“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
"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