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YA Review: Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Title: Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World
Author: Benjamin Alire Saenz
Year published: 2021
Category: Adult fiction (LGBTQ)
Pages: 528 pages
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location: (my 2022 Google Reading map)USA (TX, AL)

SummaryIn Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, two boys in a border town fell in love. Now, they must discover what it means to stay in love and build a relationship in a world that seems to challenge their very existence.

Ari has spent all of high school burying who he really is, staying silent and invisible. He expected his senior year to be the same. But something in him cracked open when he fell in love with Dante, and he can’t go back. Suddenly he finds himself reaching out to new friends, standing up to bullies of all kinds, and making his voice heard. And, always, there is Dante, dreamy, witty Dante, who can get on Ari’s nerves and fill him with desire all at once.

The boys are determined to forge a path for themselves in a world that doesn’t understand them. But when Ari is faced with a shocking loss, he’ll have to fight like never before to create a life that is truthfully, joyfully his own.

Review: I loved the first novel in this series, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (link to my review) and this second book lived up to my expectations.

This book, like the first, is told from Ari's point of view, but it feels like we know how Dante, their paretns, and their friends view the world as well. The characters are wonderful, smart, loveable, thoughtful, and real. Ari and Dante are now seniors in high school, acting more like men than boys and thinking about their futures. They get along with their parents, enjoy having them meet their friends, talk to them about things that matter, and listen to their stories. I love this about this book.

As with the first book, friendship and identity are really the main themes of this book. Ari learns to accept friendship from people who care about him, he reaches out to others who seem to be in need, and they mess up sometimes. And their friends call them on it. Ari and Dante's relationship is also more mature in this book. I don't mean the book is salacious, it isn't at all. They just deal with emotions and ideas that are more adult, which is fitting since they are 18. This novel is set in 1988/1989 so the AIDS epidemic plays an important role, which is fitting.

I said in my review of the first book that the "best thing about Ari and Dante is that they bring out the best in each other" and I will stick with this statement. They are good for each other in different ways, but mostly because the love each other.

A book about friendship, family, love, supporting those you care about. What's not to love?!

Challenges for which this counts: 
  • Big Book Summer Challenge--528 pages

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