Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publication Date: 2014
Page Count: 359
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Aristotle is your average Mexican-American teenage boy in the 1980s. He's lonely, moody, and trying to find his place in the world. He feels alone in his family with his older sisters moved out of the house, and his older brother in jail and erased from the family history. His dad is a war vet still struggling with PTSD and Ari just can't connect with him. One summer day, a boy named Dante swims into his life as his first real friend and jump-starts Ari connections in his life.
I devoured this book. I read it in two sittings and couldn't put it down until I had finished it. I really loved Aristotle's narration, and it's been quite a while since I have gotten sucked into a YA contemporary like this. Obviously, I'm the last human on Earth to read this book, but I'm so glad that I finally did. It's a book that is somewhat sad and happy and romantic and frustrating all at once, just like real life.
I loved the romance; I loved the characters; and I loved the theme of family and self-discovery. I loved the diversity elements in this novel as they were so natural. I really appreciated Dante's personality and sensitivity because that's not an element seen in young male characters very often. I also loved how Saenz placed Ari's and Dante's families side-by-side in the novel. Dante begins the novel with a very strong relationship with his parents; where as Ari feels very distant from his father, who is a Vietnam vet. This juxtaposition of the families, and their development throughout the book, was really beautiful and worked to illustrate the different forms that families and love exist in. Making and maintaining connections is one of the hardest, but most important elements of being human, and it's explored beautifully in this novel.
If you are looking for a read to loose yourself in, this one is perfect. I can already see myself rereading this one in the near future. It's also a great read to mark off a square on your Diversity Bingo sheet if you are participating. I''l be updating you on my progress soon.
This has put me in the mood for more YA contemporaries, so leave me your recommendations as always!