Aristotle and Dante are back in this sequel, picking up from where they left off. This year the boys are seniors in high school, and are privately dating.
It’s hard to narrow down exactly what I liked about this book. The writing style of Benjamin Alire Saenz, is as always, very different to what we are used to. His narration through Ari is almost a stream of conciousness style of writing. As such it is sometimes stilted, and is very dialogue heavy. In general, I don’t particularly enjoy that style of writing, but it is done so masterfully in Saenz’s books, that it seems to add to the enjoyment of the book, rather than detract from it.
Ari grows emotionally a great deal in this book. He starts to open up to people who have been trying to be his freinds (most notably, Gina and Susie), and has more meaningful and in depth conversations with both of his parents. He learns a lot about himself, and the reasons that he has hidden himself away from others.
The AIDS epidemic is still in the forefront of the news cycle, and it is a poignant reminder of just how terribly the disease ravaged the world. In a time when most of us don’t need to recall just how horribly the world acted toward gay men during this time of crisis for them, it brings back the enormity and hopelessness of the time. It also, sadly, brought to the forefront of my mind just how far we still have to go in the acceptance of all lifestyles. It is devestating to be reminded of just how little progress we have made in nearly 35 years.
Reading about Dante and Ari again is like returning home to see two old friends. I very much enjoyed this sequel, and the many issues tackled, and being with Ari as he navgates a new world as a gay man. It is a book I will encourage my teenagers to read, and one I will be thinking about for a long time to come.
Thank you so much to Simon and Shuster for providing me an eARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review!