Aristotle Mendoza is a bit of a loner—fifteen years old and no friends. When Dante Quintana offers to teach him to swim one summer, an unbreakable bond of friendship is made on the spot. The two boys spend the summer playing in the streets, making up games to trash their tennis shoes, and rescuing injured birds. Their bonds of friendship are tested by love, heartache, separation, and pain, but through it all, they manage to stay friends. A shift in their relationship will leave both of them questioning what’s right and what you should and shouldn’t be ashamed of. Saenz’s writing moves the story along at a leisurely summer pace that despite its slow introduction moves the boys’ relationship along at a believable speed. The ups and downs of being an adolescent boy are portrayed in a very real manner as is the process of self-discovery that each boy undergoes in the progression from friendship to something more. While the book lacks a solid traditional plot, the characters create a beautiful story of what acceptance truly means.A lyrical novel about family and friendship from critically acclaimed author Benjamin Alire SÁenz.Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.
There are a number of things that really stand out about this novel. The relationship between the boys is definitely nontraditional from the very beginning. Dante's forward nature and Ari's reserved one are juxtaposed from the very beginning and the way that they interact doesn't necessary seem true to the relationship that most teenage boys have. But they're not "just like everyone else" and they're just figuring out what that means. This is very much a coming-of-age story in more than one sense as the boys struggle with growing up and finding their own identities--what it means to be Mexican-American, what it means to be 16/17, what it means to be a man.