I'm still coming to terms with this book. It's always the great books that I struggle to put into words.
First things first, I swear I'm not an idiot but I had no idea this was a lgbt book until I was an embarassing percentage into it. And then I was unsure if I was imagining things and had to come check. To be honest, if I knew this was an lgbt book I probably would have read it a looooot sooner. That being said, I'm kind of glad I experienced this book the way I did, sort of cluing into the fact as other characters did.
Second, the main reason I picked up this book is because Lin-Manuel Miranda did the Audible narration and boy oh boy if you're itching for a reread of this one, might I strongly suggest that version because Lin gives voice to Ari in the most beautiful and genuine way - this is a great book in itself, but Lin brings it to life from the very first minute.
I understand from reading other reviews that some people had a hard time connecting with Ari... May I say, with all due respect, that those are not the people for whom this book was meant for.
Ari and Dante Discover is a book, like the title suggests, about self discovery and how to deal with being a confused teenager, in all that could encompass. The author always treats his characters with love and respect, even when they're doubting themselves, even when they do something wrong. You can feel how much care was put into this book, and I was smiling all the way through (even when I was crying, there was still light in a way I've never seen in any book before). This book easily got into my top 10 favorites, and i recomend it with all my heart.
One summer, Ari decides to go swimming. But he doesn’t know how to swim. Enter Dante. That’s the beginning of their complicated, beautiful and intense friendship.
Ari isn’t very sociable and he believes he has no friends because he has trouble communicating with people. He thinks these problems come from the fact that his parents don’t communicate with him. His father won’t talk about what happened to him at the war that made him so sad, and even though he has a pretty good relationship with his mother, she still won’t talk about his older brother who is in prison. Dante is the opposite of Ari; he likes poetry and art and he talks a lot about everything. He is in touch with his own feelings and he slowly teaches Ari how to be in touch with his, even if Ari is angry most of the time.
Ari is the POV character and his mental process and struggles felt very realistic. As a teenager, discovering who he really is, what he really wants, how to deal with other people, with his family and friends…It’s always hard, and it becomes harder for Ari as his friendship with Dante progresses. Dante is also a very strong character and you can see that he is also struggling, but he handles things differently. While Ari bottles everything in, Dante always lets his feelings out.
Both characters are Mexican-americans and it was interesting to see the struggle to belong in either world. The story is told through the period of two years or so, from when the boys are fifteen, until they are seventeen. Ari and Dante mostly see each other during the summer but they are always present in each other’s lives. I don’t to reveal much of what happens, because it’s a kind of episodic plot, so there’s a lot of different things that happen to them. It’s a walk into their lives at their period.
The story is set in the 80’s and I don’t know but it had a really strong 80’s feel for me - I don’t know if it was the summers at the pool, or Ari’s red pick up truck or some of the songs he liked, but the setting really worked for me.
I really liked both characters and their parents. I think it was very important to feature those relationships between family. It’s not something I see often in YA books.
I think Ari especially is a very relatable character, because we can all identify with the bit of identity crisis he is going through. At least I can in a way, mainly with his anti-social tendencies, which were ever so strong with me when I was younger. Okay, even now.
I also think it’s important to mention that the friendship between the two boys does take a romantic turn. It might help someone struggling with the same things they were.
I don’t really have any criticism or any part of the book that really bother me. It was sad and tough on the feelings at times, but also fun and easy to read through.
To sum up:
Overall, I really, really liked this book. It was a special read, beautifully written, while keeping the character’s voice real and direct.
this book was so beautifully written and nostalgic. i love how the story is set in the late eighties, and in the summer. so many summer things, like swimming pools and driving around in chevy trucks and stargazing. i love ari and dante, and i love their parents. really, it’s the word saudade in book form;;; makes me miss the summers, the way they were back then.
Excellent! The book had me hooked from beginning to end. A very touching and heartfelt love story that's definitely worth reading. It explores the mind of a teenager trying to figure himself out as he grows closer to his best friend. This book made my laugh and cry. Highly recommended.
Eu nao tinha expectativa nenhuma desse livro. Para falar a verdade, nem tinha lido a sinopse. Mas conforme fui lendo, fiquei tao engajado com a historia que terminei a leitura num piscar de olhos. Muito bem escrito!