Genre: YA Contemporary/GLTB
My Rating: 5/5 stars
Ari and Dante have nothing in common. Ari is a moody teenager far too comfortable with silence and solitude. His brother is in prison and his family refuses to talk about it. Dante, on the other hand, is a know-it-all who says whatever he feels and who has a peculiar way of seeing the world. But when the two of them randomly meet one summer's day, it sparks a deep and powerful friendship.
This coming-of-age story is all about Ari and Dante's friendship and how that friendship grows and changes as the two of them discover their own identities and come into their sexuality.
This is one of the most beautifully written contemporary coming-of-age stories I've ever read. This is a love story at its core, but it's not a traditional love story. It's a love story about learning to love and accept yourself, your family, your friends, and your heart.
The book is from Ari's first-person narrative, which I really liked. He's brutally honest about some things, but will shy away from the truths of other thinks, like most people do when the truth is too much to confront at the time. Through Ari's voice, the reader also gets to know and understand Dante, the one person that Ari doesn't really understand but whom he's fascinated by. I fell in love with Ari and Dante as characters.
I really enjoyed both sets of parents in this book as well. In a lot of YA books, the story doesn't become too involved with the parents, which tends to keep them sort of two dimensional. But not this book. For the most part, when Ari and Dante aren't spending their time together, they're spending it with their parents. The parents add so much to this story. They each have distinct voices, thoughts, problems, and story arcs.
What makes this book stand out the most, however, is the writing. It's utterly perfect. It's poetic, lyrical, philosophical, and totally captures the essence of these two boys. Although the writing is simple and the chapters tend to be short, there's a lyrical quality to it.
The pacing is relatively slow. Not much happens in the story. There's not really even a plot in this book. These two boys are just coming into themselves in their own time. It's a character driven story about love, friendship, family, and their Latino culture.
The ending is perfect. The way this story comes to a close is just the cherry on top of a wonderful book. There were tears of happiness and a wonderful grin plastered across my face during those last few pages. Everything about this story is incredible. I couldn't put the book down (and clearly judging by this review, I simply loved it).
Anyone and everyone that enjoys YA contemporaries should definitely check out this book. The story focuses on two Latino families and dapples in the GLTB genre, so readers outside of the YA contemporary, that might be your in too. But really, just go pick up this book, everyone and anyone. I promise you'll enjoy it!