Published 21 February 2012
Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Summary: 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.
Ari has always felt lonely; adrift in a universe that he can’t grasp, unable to understand how to simply just be. He can hide his feelings so well they become too hard to translate. Then there is Dante; vociferous, self-assured and open Dante. When they meet at the local pool and Dante offers to teach Ari how to swim, they develop a friendship and set out together on a path to open up each other’s worlds.
This quietly beautiful book spoke to me in a way that only a handful of books ever have. It’s one of those books that you don’t want to devour; you want to savour the words because each and every one of them counts. The writing is earth shatteringly passionate, so infused with honesty and sincerity that simple sentences had the power to take my breath away.
Both Ari and Dante are nuanced and layered - from his ability to strip every part of them bare and exposed to their often disjointed conversations – Sáenz is a writing force to be reckoned with. He makes you feel, and when I say feel I mean really feel. Experiencing Ari unfold and struggle to reform into who he wants to be was devastating but ultimately so full of joy. His development will speak to anyone who has every felt unsure of who they are, to everyone who has ever felt different.
What I loved most about this book was the honest and tender displays of familial love. How even when that love is hard to express, it is still right there, a constant. It beautifully conveys how much love can stifle and suffocate when it’s not expressed in important relationships and how silence can cause pain. The exploration of identity and sexuality was illuminating and open. Simply put, it was beautiful to behold.
This is a book of love. It’s a reminder that love, all the different kinds of love, is something to be treasured. It is something that is deserved and should be free from shame. For a book that quietly flew under my radar, I can tell you one thing for certain, this book doesn’t simply fly; it soars.