Dante can swim. Ari can’t. Dante is articulate and self-assured. Ari has a hard time with words and suffers from self-doubt. Dante gets lost in poetry and art. Ari gets lost in thoughts of his older brother who is in prison. Dante is fair skinned. Ari’s features are much darker. It seems that a boy like Dante, with his open and unique perspective on life, would be the last person to break down the walls that Ari has built around himself.
But against all odds, when Ari and Dante meet, they develop a special bond that will teach them the most important truths of their lives, and help define the people they want to be. But there are big hurdles in their way, and only by believing in each other―and the power of their friendship―can Ari and Dante emerge stronger on the other side.
This was such a powerful and beautiful read. The writing of this book was stunning and the chapters were pretty short, I found myself flying through this book. I finished it in a day and instantly wanted to reread it as I wasn’t ready for the story to end. I was delighted to find that this had a sequel (I’d seen it in bookshops but didn’t realise that it wasn’t just this book with a slightly different cover). I originally gave this book 4 stars as a solid 4.5 but I went back and gave it 5 stars as it really did stick with me.
This book tracked the friendship between Ari and Dante from their first meeting at age 15 until age 17. During these years the boys grew so much, both in their friendship but also from boys into young men.
I really enjoyed the characters in this book. Ari and Dante were so different but they brought out the best in each other. This growth in their relationship was truly beautiful. I really enjoyed reading about how protective they were of each other. This led to Ari discovering more about him family and that seemed like a pretty big moment in his development. The parents of each boy clearly loved their child absolutely. While each family had their own issues, they still cared about each other.
This book dealt with the subject of identity and not fitting in. It covered topics such as heritage, sexuality, family scandals. I felt that this book covered these topics really well. I do want to acknowledge that I am a white, Scottish woman and not the authority on any of these topics. Dante and Ari discussed not being ‘Mexican enough’ as they were born and raised in the USA but each felt differently towards their Mexican heritage. This was really interesting to read about.
While reading this book, I forgot that it took place in the 1980s…in Texas. I was so busy reading lovely story featuring a young man discovering his sexuality. At no point did I think that this book was going to be anything other than a delightful tale. The homophobia experienced in this book was both realistic and heartbreaking. The reaction to the homophobia felt realistic from every character. I especially appreciated the reactions from each set of parents. My heart absolutely broke in many parts during the reading of this book as I just loved the characters so much and was so upset and angry that they had to deal with this (and that people still face these situations today).
The writing of this book was just exquisite, it was almost melodic. This was definitely one of the most beautifully written books that I’ve read this year, it’s been a good year for reading beautifully written literature. This book left me feeling warm and fuzzy. While I ugly cried at least 4 times during this book, I ended this book with a happy heart and soul. I can see me returning to this book for a reread.
I’m not a young adult but YA is a genre that rarely fails to give me the warm and fuzzies. I’d actually really like to have my step kids read this when they’re a little older. They’re not quite at the age for YA but when they are I will have a huge pile of heartwarming reads that cover a myriad of important topics.
This was an absolutely gorgeous story about friendship, growing up, love, family, and belonging. It was such an emotional read and i thoroughly enjoyed it, I’m excited to read the next book asI loved the characters and writing style so much.