Synopsis from Amazon:
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’ll be perfectly honest. When I heard Lin-Manuel Miranda, from Hamilton fame, narrated the audiobook of Aristotle and Dante I immediately knew I had to get it. I’d heard about this book before and had heard good things but knowing Lin narrated the audiobook pushed me over the edge. I needed it immediately. So I bought it. Immediately.
It was the best $14.95 I ever spent. I tend to only listen to audiobooks when I’m doing some form of exercise (this happens maybe once a month) or when I’m walking to the train but I couldn’t stop listening to Ari and Dante’s story. It’s told from Ari’s point of view and I loved Ari. He’s sweet but doesn’t want to be. He wants to know about his brother Bernardo, and why his family never talks about him, but Ari doesn’t know how to ask. And Ari also hates that his father doesn’t speak that much but Ari doesn’t say much either.
Then Ari meets Dante. Dante is the antithesis to Ari. Dante is happy, excited, and talks a lot. When Dante first meets Ari the first thing he says is,”I can teach how to swim!” Dante doesn’t ask if Ari wants to learn, he just volunteers himself. Strangely, that’s exactly what Ari needs because Ari would’ve never asked for help himself.
And thus a beautiful friendship was born. What I loved about this novel was how open and honest Dante was about his feelings and thoughts and how that completely contrasted with how Ari kept his feelings and thoughts so closely guarded. These two were so different but also had a lot in common. I also really enjoyed the supporting characters. I loved both Dante and Ari’s parents for different reasons and in different ways. I also really liked Ari’s classmates Gina and Susie who we don’t see that much of but when they’re there they added humor and brought out another side of Ari.
This novel dealt with a lot issues including race, family, friendship, love, and LGBT issues. More than that though it was very relatable. I often forgot this book took place in the late ’80s and kept wondering why people didn’t just text or call someone on their cell. I liked how the author, Benjamin Alire Saenz, built up tension and kept some facts hidden from the reader until the very end. This book was beautifully written and handled so many topics really well. This is definitely a keeper.
Borrow or Buy: Buy!
“I don’t need the rain. I need you.”