I don’t typically like books that aren’t plot-driven. Most of the time, I find that books without a plot just drag along. Well, I can’t truly say this book “doesn’t have a plot”… I mean, it has a sequence of events and the characters do things over a period of time. But there’s not a big build up to a climax followed by a tidy resolution as there would be in so many books. (Which I tend to prefer.) It’s hard to explain, but I think you probably know what I mean. Rather than some huge event that the book centers around, it’s just a description of what happens to these two characters over a length of time. A snapshot of their lives, if you will. An absolutely beautiful snapshot!
With all the recent talk about the lack of diversity in publishing, I was reminded that I have yet to review this amazing book, which features two main characters of Latino heritage. I thought this book was an especially refreshing read because the main characters were both (1) distinctly different from one another and (2) realistic without becoming cliched stereotypes. Although Aristotle (aka Ari) had an older brother who was in prison, he was not the typical thug/gangsta type we often see depicted in books and on TV. He was conflicted and angry, to be sure, but he didn’t embrace his anger so much as recognize it and hope to find a way to get past it. It was clear that Ari was so uncomfortable expressing emotion because his parents hadn’t modeled effective communication, but that seemed to be much more an explanation than an excuse. Dante, on the other hand, was very close to his parents and had a very open relationship with both his mother and father. Because of his friendly demeanor, positive outlook, and ability to express his emotions, Dante was quite possibly the best person with whom Ari could have become friends. And, though this book was an excellent read for many reasons, I was most impressed by the exploration of the fine line between the love of friends and romantic love. If you’re looking for a book to restore your faith in humanity, this would be a good place to start.