Rating: ★★★★★The Summary of How I Feel About This Book:
This book was absolutely beautiful and I do not know how to give this review any justice to what life-altering experience I just went through over this weekend. I picked up this book from my bookshelf randomly after watching booktube videos and placing my book order from B&N and I never believed that I would actually finish it let alone get past twenty pages within the 1st reading. I WAS SO WRONG!!!!
I have never seen any reviews for this book, read the synopsis or find anything to give me insight into this novel and I started reading it blindly and I believe that is the way it should be. I fell in love with the book within the first hour and I seriously could not put it down. Every time I was preoccupied with something in my daily life, my mind would flashback towards Aristotle & Dante and wondering what happen to them as though they had always been my long-term friends. It feels like my life did not exist before this book and for the rest of my life I feel like I did not have a life before this book came into my possession.
I cannot consider this to be an actual novel, I believe this book is life and how difficult it is for every individual having hard times whether it be family drama, sexual identity, or simply accepting love and giving love to others. I could relate to both Aristotle and Dante and I believe I share both halves of their personality. Aristotle reminds me of myself whenever I had low self-confidence in myself, the doubts that I carry when it comes to love, and how courageous he is when it comes to defending the ones he loved. Dante reminds me of the intellectual side of myself, always being positive, curious about the world, and always being straightforward when it comes to the truth and ones own feelings. I am born into pure American/Cuban household and I felt the same emotions and share the same experiences with these characters as they struggle to find a place in this world and a place in their culture because they both feel like they are outsiders. This author spoke to me in ways that I thought were not possible and he took me on this beautiful journey which feels unrealistic because no one in my personal life realize what I have just experienced these last two days with this book.
Benjamin Alire Sáenz kept me reading for hours, always trying to figure out what will happen between Aristotle & Dante and I believe that is one of the best ways of storytelling and I could never repay him for the beauty that he shared with this book. It may sound like an exaggeration and others may not like this book but for my personal entertainment this has become one of the best books I have ever read of all time which I do not take that title lightly in my literary world.
I have this habit and I do speak out publicly to people about it but whenever I encounter a book, tv show, movie, or any form of art that has seriously changed my life, I keep it to myself. I do not tell anyone about my encounters because I believe if I share these with people then it loses its specialty and then I do not feel like the author of these works is speaking to me directly. I know its sounds weird and insane but I like to feel special. If everyone reads the same books and watches the same films then we all have the same opinions and no originality. Obvious I know thousands of people have read this book but those thousands are a number to me and instead I felt like the author wrote this book specifically for me.
This book has a plot but I believe it does not have a plot at the same time. We see the story through Aristotle's point of view but I truly felt like I was part of the story and this book became a film in my head. That doesn't happen often when it comes to books but whenever I feel like this I truly cherish it to my heart.
This takes place in 1987, we meet Aristotle who is very lonely, sad all the time and does not how to cope with these feelings that are inside of him. Sadly what doesn't help is his father fought in Vietnam and came back as a changed man and does not reveal anything about the war and all the pain and death that he witnessed. Because of this he doesn't communicate well with Aristotle and while Aristotle has older siblings who live on their own, a ghost lurks around the house and the topic of this ghost is unspeakable within the family. Aristotle has an older brother named Bernardo who went to prison when he was little and he doesn't know why he went to prison and his parents treat this situation as though Bernardo is dead to them. No pictures hang around the house and it hurts Aristotle to not know the truth about what happen to his brother.
Then one day during the summer, Aristotle goes to the public pool which unfortunately he does not know how to swim. While he is trying to float above the water, he meets another boy named Dante who asks him whether he wants to learn how to swim. From that day forwarded, their lives are forever changed for the better. Aristotle never had a best friend before and he doesn't understand why Dante likes hanging around with him. Because Dante is an intellectual, he is seen as an outsider and a weirdo and he suffers too from having no friends except for Aristotle.
Immediately they have great chemistry and develop a friendship that I wished I had in my upbringing because it was so pure and innocent and special. I felt like the world was finally in motion when they were together and it made me forget the troubles I have in my current life. What I love about this book too is that family played a major role. The parents weren't treated as secondary characters and instead they always knew what was going on between Aristotle & Dante and they never got in the way of their kids and let them enjoy life and find love on their own. I love how supportive the parents were and I believe we need more parents like them.
This book had me turning the pages at 100 mph because Dante discovered his sexual identity quicker than Aristotle and already came into the conclusion that he was in love with Aristotle. For Aristotle though for a quick second I believed he was actually straight because the way he acted half way into the book and I was going to be so heartbroken if he didn't end up with Dante. At the time I found it difficult to understand how Aristotle could be in denial about his emotions towards Dante but then I realize that I wasn't like him in my upbringing. I am very much like Dante in the sense that I discovered extremely early on in my life that I liked boys and I am straightforward when it comes to my emotions and accepting how I truly feel about a person. That is me but I realize now that there are millions of kids, teenagers, and even adults who have a hard time to realize how they truly feel about a person and even a harder journey towards accepting themselves and the love they deserve.
Having this book taking place in 1987 is perfect because it takes us back to a simpler time whereas now our countless technology and social media handicaps our society and youth. These characters got to explore the outdoors, the stars, and learned how to be cultural and finding comfort in art and literature. If this was taking place now in the 21st century I believe it would be more melodramatic with teenage drama and would feel unbelievable.
I am speechless when it comes to Aristotle & Dante and I believe there are not enough words to write how mind-blowing, beautiful, and creative this book was and giving it a 5 star rating does not give it justice. These words I write do not give it justice to how magical this inspirational story has become in my personal life. I feel so heartbroken right now because I feel like I was sent to another world, another time and no one except my Goodreads family will understand what I just experience and the power literature has on its readers. Once again I love this book and I wish it was Friday night again and to experience what it was like reading this book for the very first time. Thank you.