A lyrical novel about family and friendship from critically acclaimed author Benjamin Alire Sáenz.
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.
©2013 Benjamin Alire Saenz (P)2013 Simon & Schuster Audio
“Benjamin Alire Saenz is a writer with a sidewinder punch. Spare sentences connect resonant moments, and then he knocks you down with emotional truth. The story of Ari and Dante’s friendship widens and twists like a river, revealing truths about how hard love is, how family supports us, and how painfully deep you have to go to uncover an authentic self." (Judy Blundell, National Book Award-winning author of What I Saw and How I Lied)
"This book took my breath away. What gorgeous writing, and what a story! I loved both these boys. And their parents! Don't we all wish we had parents like theirs? The ending - and the way it unfolded - was so satisfying. I could go on and on...suffice it to say I will be highly recommending it to one and all. I'm sure I'll reread it myself at some point. I hated having it end." (James Howe, author of Addie on the Inside)
"I’m absolutely blown away. This is Saenz's best work by far.... It’s a beautiful story, so beautifully told and so psychologically acute! Both Ari and Dante are simply great characters who will live on in my memory. Everything about the book is absolutely pitch perfect.... It’s already my favorite book of the year!" (Michael Cart, Booklist)
"A brilliant gem in a sea of mediocrity"
It's a heartwarming, heart-wrenching, sweet, sad, laugh-out-loud funny, coming-of-age story so deftly told by Mr. Saenz. A better narrator, Mr. Miranda, could not have been chosen. This book will stay with me for the rest of my life. I will never look at teens the same.
Both the main characters and their parents were special beyond words.
The entire book was fabulous, even though I think I went through a box of Kleenex.
I don't have time to listen to any audio book in one sitting. I mostly listened to this one in my car and on my long bike rides, as I do all my audio books. Very satisfactory.
I simply cannot recommend this book highly enough. To teens and young adults, to parents, to fans of the mm genre... to just about anyone. Oh how I loved it!
"One of the best novels I've listened to in years."
I think what moves me is just all of the small subtle moments between Ari and Dante that moved me; you can feel how they feel for each other in each interaction and conversation, and you can see how each of them grows after each interaction.
I also really love those big moments.. hearing them.... when Ari got hurt... and when Dante got hurt, and Ari's reaction to it. All of those moments were just beautiful to listen to.
This story is beautiful, simplistic (in a wonderful way,) and touching. The relationship between these two boys is so moving and powerful because it is not obvious and in your face; instead, it's subtle and gradual how we change one another in any relationship, how we grow and transform throughout a relationship and how we are never the same in the end.
You know soon into the story how things will turn out, but you still keep listening to hear because it is so beautifully written, and you fall in love with the characters while dreaming that you had such a friendship.
I don't usually listen to audiobooks for long periods of time. Usually I listen to one for 20 minutes each night before I fall asleep, but this one kept me awake long long into the night, and now here I sit on a Sunday afternoon having not moved for the last 4 hours just so I can finish this book because I was so enthralled that I couldn't do anything until I finished experiencing this story.
"One of the best books I've listened to all year!"
Oh hell yes! It's everything you want in a book. Engaging, intriguing, well written and well told by the narrator.
Ari. With the story being told from his POV you really got to take the journey through his eyes, I loved his confusion and his convictions.
Ari's anger and Dante's flamboyance.
Both! There were a couple times I teared up a little bit. I had a big smile on my face at the end though.
Aristotle is a loner, but he’s not lonely. He’s played sports and joined clubs but he has never really had any friends, because he has never felt like he was a part of the normal teenage world. His mom is a teacher, his father is a Vietnam vet who keeps his thoughts to himself and his brother is in prison. It’s just another of many things his parents don’t talk about, his brother or why he isn’t a part of their lives. With summer break looming, Ari’s mom encourages him to make friends, and that is when he meets Dante at the local pool.
Dante is smart, open minded, out spoken and over bearing... pretty much everything that Ari is not. As unlikely as the pair seem, they bond and become best friends. Dante’s mom is a Therapist and his dad is a Professor so his smarts come naturally, but he loves to read, swim and is a poet at heart. The two quickly become inseparable to spite the fact that sometimes Ari finds Dante insufferable. Ari even steps in front of a moving car to save Dante, who was trying to save a broken winged bird at the time.
What was supposed to be a fun summer spent together at the pool and discovering the secret of life, is now spent with Ari recouping from the accident. And then summer is over, Dante is in Chicago with his parents for the school year, and Ari is angry. He is angry at Dante for trying to save that stupid bird. He is angry at himself for getting hurt. He is angry at his parents for not talking to him, and for never talking about his brother. Most of all, he doesn’t even know why he is really angry, if he is truly so angry at all.
Things change a lot over the next couple years, for both Ari and Dante. Dante explores a variety of vices including pot and alcohol, girls and boys, finally deciding he’d rather kiss boys than kiss girls. Ari gets to know his parents, himself and the illusion of his big brother. And then the unthinkable happens, Dante is hurt in an act of violence that sends Ari on a downward spiral that could end with him in the same place as his beloved big brother.
Wow, just wow. This story really made me think. I found myself rewinding several times to go back and listen to Ari’s thoughts again, make sure I was hearing them the way they were meant to be heard. Truly a story about two young men’s journey of self awareness in a big city Texas town in an era where being gay was still considered taboo, and frowned upon, to the extent that violence was generally overlooked. But not by Ari who knows Dante better than anyone else, even if it takes almost losing him to finally see it himself.
I’ve never listened to or read another story quite like this one. Told from Ari’s POV, you are traversing these two years in time inside his mind, seeing through his eyes, feeling what and how he felt. But Saenz made sure that Dante’s unique perspective on things always shined through as well. Dante was pretty much an open book, what you saw was what you got. Ari though, he was like an onion, you had to slowly peel back the layers to reveal what was on the inside. He came across as angry sometimes, when in actuality he was hurt or confused. At one point he finally admits that he was looking for Dante before he even knew it.
Whether it was their sometimes awkward but always intriguing conversations, letters exchanged while Dante was away in Chicago, or a real time relay of events as they were happening described by Ari, the relationship between these two completely fascinated me. Dante knew he loved Ari long before the feelings were reciprocated, but I don’t think even Dante knew he was IN love with Ari at first. The way their relationship unfolded, becoming and staying best friends for years before anything else was very fresh, innocent and endearing.
If you’re looking for just another sexy book from the LGBT genre, you won’t find that here. What you will find is a wonderfully written story about two young men that are looking for something, anything, discovering secrets about their lives, their futures and their pasts while forging an unbreakable bond of love and friendship. And the narrator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, has a voice that matches the story perfectly. Fresh, new and youthful. This is one of the best books I’ve listened to all year. I seriously lost time while I was listening I was so engrossed in the story.
If you are a fan of authors like Mia Kerick and Geoff Laughton, both from Harmony Ink, then this book should be added to your TBR list!
"An Experience Worthy of the Title"
There really aren't adequate words for me to describe all the ways I enjoyed being along for the ride with ARI & DANTE. This Coming-of-Age novel is so full, even the silence speaks.
There is never a doubt that these two boys needed to find each other. Their own special baggage is exactly what is required for them to connect, question and work through things. It may be as comical as their Mexican-ness or lack of to grief over their missing pieces. As in most Coming-of-Age novels, they need to learn to be OK with who they are and reconcile what kind of person they want to be. Their journey takes you through all the FEELS, laughing to frustration to tears. It isn't easy, but they get there. I appreciate the fact that in the end they had each other all the way, plus a pair of wonderful parents for support. The lesson I walked away with is learning to be UNASHAMED with who you are.
LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA was phenomenal. He had the perfect blend of age, unease and bravado that could take you through the rage, snark, laughs and the range of emotions of teen boys. Ari had more bravado and Dante had more excitable wonder. He also captured both sets of parents, their calm, love and specific personalities. SAENZ & MIRANDA served up an experience that won't be forgotten.
"I really wanted to love this book."
I was so excited to listen to this performance after the glowing reviews plastered allover the Internet. Unfortunately it just didn't happen. I found the protagonist whiny and super immature. I just couldn't relate with his inner struggle or his ungrateful nature.
I read a good review of this book so I tried it out... it wasn't bad enough to stop reading, but I thought it'd never end. The writer made sure to tie up loose ends, and to keep the time line clear & cohesive, but my main problem with it was the main character who seemed to be a depressing whiner. I got horribly bored with him. I understand that was the role of that character, and that teenagers are filled with angst & confusion, but if I'm going to read a coming-of-age of age book, I think I'll stick with the classics. I just read Diary of Anne Frank and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and they were absolutely fabulous.
"A Simple Story, but a Powerful One"
Simple, moving, beautiful
Lin-Manuel Miranda did a wonderful job throughout the entire book, but Ari's father was especially good.
This isn't a story with a ton of action, but it really appealed to me. Watching the friendship between Ari and Dante evolve was slow, moving, and wonderful. Ari coming to terms with his family's history was also handled wonderfully. I just sat there listening and felt a lot of emotion for what really is a simple story. It was great.
Should have been a great book but somehow didn't grab me. Great characters but a bit meandering with the plot.
I loved the story and the performance was perfect. the story it's amazing and ending was just so damn perfect. this is my new favorite book.
"a beautifully-written book, with spot-on narration"
The obvious first: Lin-Manuel Miranda is an incredible audiobook narrator.
The book itself: The characters, from Aristotle and Dante to their parents (and even minor characters like Gina and Ari's off-stage brother) are so well-developed. The setting is beautifully described, and as Dante introduces Ari to great literature, his descriptions and observations become even richer and more lyrical.
In addition to demonstrating the significant impact of friendship can have on a lonely, angry teenager, this gorgeous novel is a testament to the necessity of supportive parenting.
If you enjoyed Eleanor & Park, you'll like this too—they're somewhat similar in tone, and Benjamin Alire Sáenz's writing is just as beautiful as Rainbow Rowell's.
"Beautiful Story, So-So Reading"
Yes. The story flows easily, with good humour and raw, meaningful sections that you'd want to listen over and over again.
"The Perks of Being a Wallflower"
"The Silver Linings Playbook"
Feel-good books that end well.
I don't think so. He tries really hard to make Dante sound different from Ari, but Dante just sounds like an unattractive, nerdy kid, which isn't totally Dante (since we know that he is beautiful and sophisticated). I know Dante is supposed to have a nasal voice at the beginning because of his allergy, but Benjamin clearly signifies that his allergy is over by that first summer. Plus, Lin-Manuel Miranda doesn't seem to have read and practised the reading beforehand because he mistakes the voice of the characters sometimes.
It made me laugh and cry. Brilliant.
I don't think that Lin-Manuel Miranda's narration is ideal. However, this audiobook is worth buying because the story is worth listening to.
I initially only got this to listen to Lin read but ended up falling in love with this book. I haven't been this emo since Harry Potter
Lin Manuel Miranda is perfect for this! I've read the book and the audio book is just as heartbreaking and beautiful.
"fantastic beautiful story."
loved it. some mature content but real life issues that young adults need to understand. highly recommended.
"Everyone's fighting a war that nobody knows about"
An absolutely astounding book. No other book could tackle the struggles that we faced whilst going through life but told through the eyes of a teenager.
The narration was 5 star and this story gave me hours of laughter, sadness, insight and reflection. There really isn't a real plot, it is told in such a beautiful way. The narrator really takes you on a journey and I'd highly recommend anybody and everybody to listen to this audiobook. Definitely within my top 3 of books.
"A ten star listen"
I honestly don't know what to write apart from I am impressed. This was such a lovely read while also tackling deep and disturbing topics such as war, prison, how everyone fights their own battles inside, bullying. And a lot more. And in the middle of everything, you have a couple you can't help falling in love with. So adorable.
Also, I applaud the parent characters in this book. They're present (a situation not often portrayed in YA) and they're human and authentic. I adored them!
"The book was amazing the acting was perfect"
I love this with all my heart oh my god. The story on its own was perfect but the acting put into it by the reader was so well done. I've never heard a story told quite as good as this one was
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