Aristotle “Ari” is a conflicted teenager growing up in El Paso in the late 1980s. He’s sixteen and a loner, but doesn’t really mind his lack of friends. He’s very close to his mother, whose a high school teacher (not at Ari’s school), but wishes he could talk to his dad, a Vietnam vet about, well, anything really. The youngest of his family, Ari’s twin sisters are much older than him and his brother is in prison, never spoken about by anyone in the family. There are no pictures, his name is never mentioned, and Ari can’t help but wonder about him constantly.
The summer when he’s sixteen, Ari makes his first real friend, Dante. They meet at the public pool, when Dante offers to teach him how to swim. Dante is pretty much Ari’s polar opposite. He’s outgoing and talkative, questioning everything. He’s positive where Ari is melancholy. Yet the two boys connect. They spend pretty much the whole summer together, until a bad accident puts Ari in the hospital. Dante’s family move to Chicago for a school year, but the boys keep in touch by writing letters.It’s clear that both of the boys do more developing and figuring out of who they’re becoming when they’re apart.
When Dante and his parents move back to El Paso, he’s worried that Ari will no longer be his friend. Dante has been experimenting with kissing while he was in Chicago and has pretty much figured out that he only wants to be kissing boys. He’s worried that Ari won’t be his best friend anymore. He’s worried about telling his parents and disappointing them, because he’s absolutely crazy about them. Can Ari and Dante’s friendship survive these new realisations?
I’d heard about this book in several places. It was very favourably reviewed by several review sites I frequent, like The Book Smugglers and Forever Young Adult. I put it on my TBR list, and as is so often the case, more or less forgot about it. Then earlier this month, fellow Cannonballer JCoppercorn wrote another very positive review, and because I had been browsing Audible, I discovered that Lin-Manuel Miranda was the narrator of the audiobook. This pretty much made the book a must-buy and I’ve been very happily listening to it for the past week.
Full review on my blog.