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.
Author: Benhamin Alire Sáenz
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
One thing I’d like to comment on is how beautiful the book cover is! I’m the sort of person that does judge a book by it’s cover, so if I hadn’t heard about the book before seeing it, it could’ve been an impulse buy!
I really liked that Ari and Dante met at the start of the book, but it didn’t feel rushed. Some books leave friendships to develop later on, perhaps after a number of chapters, however this meeting happened in the first few. It still worked as we gradually learnt more about the characters throughout the book anyway.
Both of the main character’s family backgrounds were detailed, but they weren’t too much. It was balanced enough that we learned things that helped us to understand each individual, and none of it felt unnecessary.
I don’t think I even have one criticism of this book because of how much I enjoyed it! One thing I do think could’ve improved it slightly is if had been written from a dual perspective – so we got to hear both Ari and Dante’s thoughts and opinions.
This is one of my favourite LGBT+ books that I’ve read. I liked the way that it wasn’t completely LGBT from the start, and was more about friendship. It felt very real and again, it wasn’t rushed or completely negative (I felt like it could’ve included homophobic content as part of the story, but it didn’t!).