Author: by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Release date: February 21st 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster BfYR
Hardcover, 359 pages
Buy: The Book Depository
A lyrical novel about family and friendship from critically acclaimed author Benjamin Alire Sáenz.
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.
Aristotle Mendoza is a boy angry at the world: at his father for keeping silent about the war, at his mother for practically erasing his incarcerated brother from their lives, at his sisters for being older and distant and at his friend Dante, mostly for being himself. Primarily, though, he’s angry at himself for not being able to change any of it.
Aside from Dante, Ari doesn’t have any friends, and his friendship with Dante is often awkward and confusing. Unlike Ari, Dante has no trouble speaking his mind and showing his more vulnerable side. He is open and lovable, sometimes perhaps too much of both.
It would be hard enough to be two Mexican boys in 1980’s Texas, but their challenges don’t end there. Each of them has family issues, insecurities, struggles and fears to deal with, and no matter how strong their friendship, it is always in danger of stretching thin.
Love was always something heavy for me. Something I have to carry.
Benjamin Alire Sáenz wrote this story with surprising candor. He created these two boys and placed them into roles they often found most uncomfortable: those of devoted sons, reluctant heroes, and teenage boys in love.
And another thing: if you can, get this one on audio. Lin-Manuel Miranda added a little something of himself to this story and made it even better, as unbelievable as that sounds. The fear of a young boy faced with big decisions felt even more real coming from his mouth, not to mention the accents without which this book just wouldn’t be the same.
At the risk of sounding cliché, this is a book I will never forget. It goes right up there with Brooklyn, Burning, Suicide Notes and Gone, Gone, Gone. It is heartbreakingly beautiful and poignant –I cannot recommend it enough.