Published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers on February 21st 2012
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
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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’m honestly not sure how this book evaded me for so long! I only heard of it a few months ago for some reason, despite it being a few years old and having rave reviews. I’m so glad I picked it up because what a wonderful coming of age story about friendship and discovering who you are.
This is the story of a teenaged boy in the late 80s, Angel Aristotle, or Ari as he prefers to be called, who is sort of a loner and not entirely sure who he is. He knows he is Mexican American. He knows he has great parents despite his father who is sometimes lost to his memories of the war. He knows he has a brother is prison that no one will talk about. But he doesn’t know who he is. He sort of comes off as hard and uncaring when it comes to others but he didn’t even see himself clearly because his automatic response to those in need was always to protect. He doesn’t care to have many friends but he meets a boy like him who isn’t like him at all. Dante is sort of the opposite of Ari at times. He is much more outgoing and soft where Ari is hard. Nevertheless they develop a friendship and this book takes us through the journey of finding their way on their own and together. Through accidents, long distances, new friends, jobs, dogs, family life, and love, the book hits so many important life moments that felt realistic and true for these characters and their ages as well as the time (80s). I absolutely adored their friendship and the silly moments with shoes and watching the stars in the back of the truck to the heavy issues like discovering one’s sexuality. This story spans over a year of their life and a lot of things, good and bad, happen to them during that time. But they always found their way. My favorite aspect was the family life shown for both boys. Dante’s parents are the sweetest to each other and their son, even to Ari. And Ari’s parents have a few issues that plague them from the past but I loved how they go through a sort of journey themselves. So much love and so much support was shown from both families.
I am so thankful this book ended up on my radar! I see the author is working on a sequel and I couldn’t be more excited!