Tag Archives: personal

Books We Want to Read This Summer

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Isis:

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

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This is one of my most anticipated summer releases. It looks like a sweet romantic comedy full of culture and awesome characters. I can’t wait for this to come out so I can get to it. 

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

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I picked this up on a whim a few weeks ago, and I’m eager to read it. Nicole hyped it up for me. I love lighthearted reads so I’m hoping this is one of those for me. And it has the word “summer” in it so it’s perfect. 

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

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This one also feels very summery, though I don’t think it’s as lighthearted. I’m still looking forward to reading this story. I’ve heard it deals with twins in different time periods, which reminds me of a book I didn’t finish for school called “The God of Small Things.” I’m hoping this one isn’t as emotionally draining. 

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

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I’m so behind on Morgan Matson books, but I enjoyed Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, so I’m excited to finally get to this book. Every summer since I got this I’ve been meaning to read it, but it hasn’t happened yet. Hoping this is the year. I know this one is about a close friendship, and I’m fully on board. 

Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky

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I’m also hoping this one is lighthearted. The title alone hooked me from the start. When I think of summer, I think of kidnapping members of a boy band. Not really! But I’m interested to see how this plot is handled in this book. 

 

Nicole:

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

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I’m currently on The Titan’s Curse in the original Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. I’m hoping to finish the series and start on The Heroes of Olympians series this summer. My goal is to finish these series and the Apollo series by the time the third Magnus Chase book comes out. It’s a pretty ambitious goal,  but I don’t want to read The Ship of the Dead until I read Riordan’s other books. Simply because I’ve heard from other people who’ve read all of them that they think it’ll all intertwine. I don’t want to be confused or spoiled so this is my big goal.

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

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I got this from NetGalley, started it, and then never finished. I’m still really interested in it, though I’ve found that I have trouble concentrating when reading on my phone. I have a few others from NetGalley I really need to get to and review soon, but this one is my most anticipated.

Saga Comics by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

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I’ve read the first three of these comics forever ago it seems like. I never continued on since the wait was too much, and I would forget what happened. But Isis has been bugging me ever since to get caught up so she can talk about it with someone. Since she’s planning on reading Magnus Chase, I guess it’s finally time to catch up on this series for her.

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

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I’ve wanted to read from N.K. Jemisin for a while now, and I’m hoping to get to this this summer. I don’t particularly know what this book is about, but I’ve heard nothing but good things. I’ve also really been into fantasy, so that’s all I need to know.

The Diviners by Libba Bray

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This book includes the occult, a supernatural power, and a murder case with a serial killer. It’s right up my alley right now. It’s been a year since I’ve gotten this book, and I think it’s high time for me to read it.

 

10 Tropes We Love

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About three months ago we did a post about tropes we hate. Today we are gonna do the opposite, and talk about tropes we love.

1. Childhood Friend Romance – I love it when two characters are friends since childhood, grow up together, and eventually realize they belong together. It’s a combination of the “Friends to Lovers” trope, so I’m including that in here too. I love the way these two people know each other so well by the time a romantic relationship is built. It’s sweet. My favorite is the one in Point Pleasant by Jen Archer Wood, between Ben and Nic, who knew each other from birth, seriously.

2. Blond Evil Guys – I’m not sure if this counts, but I’ve seen plenty of these characters in so many books. And I love every single one of them. From Draco Malfoy to Warner to Laurent, there’s so much to love. I love dark characters, and I love that they happen to be blond, and I love that they all have a sad story to explain why they’re so bad. Sometimes it’s super problematic, but it’s a guilty pleasure.

3. The Philosopher – I love a character who can bring philosophical concepts into a novel. They always look for the meaning behind every action and try to see the world in a different light. This can get pretty pretentious if it’s done wrong, which has happened many times *cough, cough–John Green–cough cough* but I think it can also be really great. My favorite example is Aristotle from Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz. 

4. Good Parents – I seriously appreciate good parents, especially in YA. There are countless stories where the parents never appear, are dead, abusive, negligent, close-minded, cruel, and so on and so forth. I’m so tired of reading all of these tropes. We need more books with good, supportive, amazing parents that are there for their children, even when their children are older. Again in Aristotle and Dante, both Ari and Dante had wonderful parents. 

5. There’s No Place Like Home – I’m a sucker for characters that go on a journey away from home, only to discover that they didn’t have to run away from home to be happy because the home left behind is where they felt truly happy. It sounds cheesy, and it probably is, but I never get tired of seeing this.

6. Hidden Heart of Gold- This character is usually sarcastic, cold, and a jerk to mostly everyone. That doesn’t make them the villain though. They have good intentions, but a bad attitude. Or, they are afraid of getting hurt or even being seen as nice so they hide. Whatever their reasons, I usually love this trope if it’s done well. By that I mean I don’t like when they cross over into being abusive, and I don’t like when other characters forgive them automatically. If they are in need of redemption, it needs to be done well.

7. Magnetic Hero- The hero needs to go on an epic quest, but in order to do that they need some help. A lot of times they have friends, and it’s a no brainer that they will join. It’s when the hero needs someone who is reluctant that this becomes interesting. Usually the hero is simply earnest and being themselves and not even trying that hard to convince them to change their minds. It can be because of the hero’s personality, a hidden connection the person has with the hero, or a connection with the actual quest that they choose to change their minds. It may seem too easy to some, but I typically love when this happens.

8. Fire-Forged Friends- These characters do not like each other. However, they have the same goal. For whatever reason, they have to work together to get that goal. There is usually a lot of banter and fighting and soft nice moments, and I love all of it. Typically, there’s scenes when they fight against the common enemy together, where one of them is determined not to leave the other behind even if they 100% have the choice to do so, and a conversation where they admit that each other isn’t all that bad. And I love all of it. It’s so good.

9. The Unintentional Badass- These characters usually don’t even want to be the hero. Saving the day isn’t on their to-do list, and they complain about it a lot. So, when they do something badass, it’s either a surprise or done in a way that’s not typically considered badass. They can do that by using their previous knowledge that you wouldn’t think would help, or solve the problem in any way that is not with violence.

10. Unlikely Friendships- One is a pessimist while one is the optimist. One is practical while the other is a free spirit. One is creative while one is scientific. One is old and the other young. Whatever opposites they are, if they still love and support each other, I will love their friendship.

My “There Will be Other Summers” Predictions

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Last year, I made a post briefly discussing the news that Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is getting a sequel entitled, There Will be Other Summers.

Now that I’ve let my excitement simmer for a while, I have more coherent predictions for the upcoming sequel. First of all, can we talk about how wonderful Benjamin Alire Saenz was in letting us know he’s close to finishing writing the book? I love when authors update their readers on their writing progress.

There’s no release date for TWBOS yet, but I’m hoping it’ll come out in late 2018, hopefully, maybe. I have been waiting for this book pretty much since Saenz first talked about it on his twitter.

I’ve had the privilege of meeting Saenz twice, and I’ve heard him talk about a few things regarding the sequel. So I have come up with a list of things I really want to read in this highly anticipated book. (Spoilers for Ari & Dante ahead).

  • Dante’s new sibling! I want to see Dante interacting with the baby. (I hope he’s a boy and they name him Diego). DANTE AND ARI BABYSITTING! Yes, please.
  • Ari and Dante hanging out with Gina and Susie — maybe double dating? I would love for Gina and Susie to be a couple honestly. They would be so great together.
  • Somehow, Dante convinces everyone to go dancing together and Gina and Susie are on board with the idea, but Ari needs more convincing. Eventually, they go and Ari ends up being an amazing dancer. Hidden talent, obviously. Dante loves it when Ari dips him.
  • Prom? — Saenz mentioned during NTTBF this year that he was writing a sex scene between Ari and Dante. So, if we wanna get super cliche, I think Dante would suggest to Ari to go to prom and have after-prom-sex. I don’t think Ari would have a lot of arguments because he would just be freaking out about Dante just casually tossing around the idea of sex.
  • High school graduation. I would love to see the different graduations, and the boys having to dress up for both, in case they’re on different dates. After graduation, Ari, Dante, Gina, and Susie would all go out to the desert to drink under the stars. They would lose track of time, listening to the radio in Ari’s truck, and they would make it home after sunrise, all full of soft smiles.
  • College life. Where will Ari and Dante go to college? Will they go to separate colleges, and if so, how separate? Will they both attend college? I have no idea. I honestly think Ari would be set on going right away, but Dante would want to take some time to just do art, and both of those options are great.
  • I know this is me hoping for too much, but a road trip would be incredible. Maybe a small one where Ari and Dante take a trip to the beach? They take the truck and Dante begs to drive it sometimes even though he doesn’t have a driver’s license yet, but he swears he’s a great driver. Then Dante wants to swim in the ocean and Ari doesn’t know if he likes sand, but Dante talks him into it because what can’t Dante talk him into? They chase ghost crabs at night and pick up a bunch of seashells and Ari actually gets a tan and Dante loves it.
  • Ari’s brother. Will he eventually get out of prison or will Ari go visit him? Will there be a relationship built between them again? I can see Ari going to see him, but not really knowing how to act around him. Will his brother be involved at all, in any way?
  • Death? I don’t wanna be grim, but Saenz is known for writing tragedy into his stories (I’ve read plenty of them). I know he is wonderful and would not kill off Ari or Dante, but I’m not sure anyone else is safe. I would be so hurt if either one of Ari’s or Dante’s parents die. I love them all so much. But this is me just being super negative ’cause maybe nobody will die and everything will be full of happy moments. (RIGHT?)
  • Will this book take place over two years like the first one, or will it be longer, or shorter? The title alone implies more summers, so I’m thinking it will be set in more than a one-year time period.
  • Again with the title. It sounds sort of depressing. Will Ari and Dante be together throughout the length of the book, or will they break up? If they do break up, I hope it doesn’t last long. I get that they’re young and this is both of their first relationship, which realistically makes it highly unlikely they will last, but this is fiction and maybe we get more privileges here. I would honestly not be surprised if they do break up for a short while. But only to help them realize they don’t want to be apart.
  • I’m certain Ari and Dante will be public in their relationship, but I still wonder if they will be out only to their family and close friends, or to everyone. I think Dante would be on board with being public to everyone, even after what happened to him, but maybe out of their own safety, Ari would want to keep it hidden. Or he would just be ready to fight anyone who tries to hurt him or Dante. Let’s be honest, Ari could take down anyone.
  • I know that this book will be set right around the AIDS crisis, but I want to remain hopeful that that won’t play a role in this story. Saenz wrote Carry Me Like Water, which I believe follows a gay character suffering from AIDS. I haven’t read it yet because the premise is too sad for me to bear, so I really hope neither Ari or Dante get affected by it. I don’t like sad gays, but the good thing is that Saenz doesn’t either.
  • To end on a hopeful note, I think this book will have so many touching moments between Ari and Dante. Think of it this way: we get to see what happens after the night when Ari accepted his feelings for Dante, and he felt no shame for them. That’s such an incredible moment, and I can’t believe we get to see more! Ari and Dante are both amazing characters, and they won’t disappoint.
  • We get to see them as a couple now. And they get to do on a first date, and then many others. We get to see them around their families again, and LEGS. There are endless possibilities for happy moments, and I can’t wait.

Do you guys have any predictions for this sequel?

Camp NaNoWriMo Update #2

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Suggested Word Count: 9,166 

Current Word Count: 2,121

General Thoughts: So after the first two days of meeting the word count goal, everything kind of went downhill. I would write a sentence one day, and maybe two hundred words the next. It wasn’t until today I finished chapter three. I changed the few parts of the story I had decided on, and it took me awhile to figure out how I wanted it to go. I think it ended up pretty good, but now I get to go on and struggle with chapter four.

Small Excerpt: 

        “Look,” Terrance sighed. “You both messed up. Let’s get out of here before someone catches us.”

          “Yeah, you wouldn’t want that to happen,” Lynette announced her presence.

          She watched, amused and sipping on her slushie, as they turned to face her as one stepping closer together as a team as if they weren’t just arguing with each other.   

          “Lynette?”

          “Long time, no see.” She smiled and tilted her head. “So tell me about these powers of yours.”

          The trio looked at each other shuffling about uneasily.

          “Aw, don’t be shy. I’m just curious,” she said.

          They still didn’t answer. Distantly, police sirens rang. Four heads snapped up in panic. Lynette looked back at her old friends to see them ready to flee.

          “Wait!” she called out. “Let me go with you.”

          They looked like that was the last thing they were going to do other than wait here for the police.

          “Just watch and decide.”

          Lynette threw out her hand toward the metal gate, pictured grabbing onto it, and then pulled her hand back. The gate, instead of simply opening like she had wanted, completely separated from the rest of the chain linked fence. The surprised gasps from her audience filled her with pride, but that swiftly turned to panic as the gate was still speeding toward her. She dove to the side, cradling her slushie in the nook of her arm. The gate hit the wall behind her with a bang.

        “So, now will you let me go with you?” Lynette asked, cheerfully.

Bookish Questions Tag

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1. What book is on your nightstand now?

Isis: I have a ton of books on my nightstand, but the one on top is In the Country We Love by Diane Guerrero. It’s the book we’re currently reading for book club.

Nicole: Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen because I read a little before bed about a month ago, and left it there. I haven’t picked it up again since.

2. What was the last truly great book you read?

Isis: The last truly great, nearly flawless book I read was At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson. I adored that book and raved about it a lot. It’s one of my all-time favorites.

Nicole: The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story by Hyeonseo Lee was a really great book, but if I had to pick something fiction it would have to be The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight. It probably isn’t even that great of a book if you criticized it on a basic writing level, but it was the last book I read that truly grabbed me and forced me into the story. Which is sad since I read it last October.

3. If you could meet any writer—dead or alive—who would it be? What would you want to know?

Isis: I’ve already met my favorite author, Benjamin Alire Saenz, twice before. So other than him, I’d love to have met Jane Austen. Her life was fascinating and I admire the way she crafted her stories. She was so ahead of her time. I just love her.

Nicole: I really like Victoria Schwab so meeting her would be cool. Talking about writing with Rick Riordan or J.K. Rowling would be nice too. Realistically, whenever I meet authors I’m usually too nervous to barely say hi to them, so it doesn’t really mean anything to me.

4. What books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?

Isis: I do have a book on my shelf called The Threesome Handbook by Victoria Vantoch. The only reason I bought it is because I went through a Misha Collins-Vicki Vantoch obsession and I felt it was necessary to have. No shame, though, right?

Nicole: It might be surprising that I have a whole shelf of romance books since that’s a genre I don’t gravitate toward ever really. I don’t think I have a particular book that would be surprising though. 

5. How do you organize your personal library?

Isis: No real organization to it. Other than Benjamin Alire Saenz and Stephen King shelves, everything else is just scattered. I guess I group them by size mostly.

Nicole: I tried to set it up by genres, but I don’t have enough shelf space so I have random stacks of books everywhere.

6. What book have you always meant to read and haven’t gotten around to yet? Anything you feel embarrassed never to have read?

Isis: Right now I’m pretty disappointed in myself for not yet reading The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz. It just recently came out and I got him to sign it for me before it was even released. But I have it tucked away with no plans to read it yet. I will, though! I’m just reading so many books at the time. I’m not embarrassed over not reading anything, though I wish I could get to Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo ’cause everyone praises that book and I have it, but again, not sure when I’ll get to it.

Nicole: I always mean to finish the Percy Jackson series but I never pick up the next one. I’ve been meaning to pick up The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin too. I usually feel a little embarrassed if a book is really popular and I haven’t read it. Only when it’s being hyped up though.  

8. What kinds of stories are you drawn to? Any you stay clear of?

Isis: I’m drawn to contemporary, realistic stories. Lately I’ve been trying to read more angel books for research, but other than that, I just love a good realistic world with realistic characters. With a happy ending, preferably. I do stay clear of high fantasy books. I find it difficult getting into those type of books. Also, probably any sci-fi. I’m picky sometimes.

Nicole: I’m usually drawn to any story with magic. So fantasy I like just not the ones with old kingdoms that are really political and that’s it. I’ve also really been into nonfiction lately. I stay clear of stories that just depressing nothing happy goes on at all. I like contemporary, but I’m also really picky about which ones. Anything too tropey or straight romantic I stay clear of.

9. If you could require the president to read one particular book, what would it be?

Isis: The current president? Jeez, can he even read?

Nicole: Maybe Wonder by R.J. Palacio or something like The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

10. What do you plan to read next?

Isis: I plan to read Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera. I have the ebook and I started it a few weeks ago, but I just stopped reading it. It was great and I can’t wait to focus on it again!

Nicole: I’m in the middle of five books right now so I should probably finish those, but honestly that’s not gonna happen. I feel like reading The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino right now, but I might leave that half finished too.

Our Top Six Books of 2016

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Isis’s picks:

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

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This book was amazing. It was my first Oscar Wilde book and he did not disappoint. Last year, my mom gave me a beautiful purple Barnes & Noble edition and I’m glad I decided to pick it up this year. Before I even picked up the book I had recurring dreams about Dorian Gray, which was pretty interesting. The witty characters made for a fascinating story. 

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

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I read this book for my Philosophy of Food class and I devoured it. (Get it?) This is a nonfiction book about the cruel reality of the meat industry and the treatment animals receive in most company farms. Not only was the book eye-opening and compelling, it was incredibly engaging. The writing style was similar to that of a contemporary novel, which was refreshing. 

We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

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This was one of those thought-provoking books that leave you with more questions than answers. I’m still not sure what the hell even happened in the book, but I have many theories. I adored the characters, friendships, families, and the writing style in this book. It was frustrating at times, but it felt realistic. I plan on reading everything else by the author. 

St. Clair (Gives Light #3) by Rose Christo

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This is the third book in a long-ish series. I have to admit, I didn’t love the final book (though I’m not sure the series is over). But this third book was perfection. I adored every character, every storyline, every twist, every turn. I wanted this book to be a thousand pages long. Actually, I recommend reading this series as a trilogy and stopping here. It’s such a sweet, heartwarming m/m love story that talks about heritage, tradition, and perseverance. 

In Perfect Light by Benjamin Alire Saenz

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I really don’t know what to say about this one. Saenz is, of course, the best author in the world (to me, ’cause I’m biased). And I think this is one of the best works of fiction out there. I haven’t heard a single person talk about this book, which is disappointing. I loved the honest, raw pain in every page, the heartbreaking characters, the beautiful family ties, and that hopeful ending that gave me the biggest smile. This is one of my top favorite books of all time. It is stunning. 

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro 

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I read this book for a Lit class in college. The class sucked, but this book didn’t. It’s set in a dystopian world although it appears ordinary at first glance. Again, the characters were my favorite part of this book. The close relationship between the three main characters was fascinating. I loved watching them grow and evolve separately and together. I hated everything that happened to them. I didn’t realize how attached I’d been to them until I put the book down and could not stop thinking about it. I had such a terrible book hangover afterwards. It just stuck with me. 

Nicole’s picks:

Faery Tale: One Woman’s Search for Enchantment in a Modern World by Signe Pike

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I only read this book for a little research on Faeries since Isis and my book involves them, and I was really surprised to like it so much. It was really interesting, and I loved reading it. Before this book I was struggling to finish any book, and it kind of cured my reading slump.

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd 

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I read this during our summer read-a-thon, and I read it within one day. I was surprised I liked this book so much, especially since I thought that the first half of the book was kind of boring. But I loved all the female relationships, and I loved May the most even if she did make me cry.

Dragonbreath: Lair of the Bat Monster (Dragonbreath #4) by Ursula Vernon

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I don’t think this should come as a surprise to anyone since I feel like I’ve talked talked about this series so much this year. This one was my favorite out of the six I’ve read, and I think that’s all I need to say about this one.

The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight

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This book completely swept my off my feet. I don’t typically read thrillers, so maybe I’m just easily impressed, but I was completely enthralled in every page. Wylie is one of my new favorite characters.

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

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I did not expect to like this book at all, but I still picked it up since I heard so much about it. I remained critical throughout it, and ended up liking it despite all that. I thought it was creative and fun, and I can’t wait to continue the series.

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

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This was such a fun read. I loved Magnus, and all of the other characters. There is actually a deaf character in this, and I don’t think I’ve read about a deaf character. Especially not in fantasy. I also enjoyed learning about Norse mythology.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz – Book Review

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“The summer was not meant for boys like me. Boys like me belonged to the rain.”

I have read this novel four times in its entirety. The audiobook narrated by Lin-Manuel Miranda is one of the most beautiful things I own, and listening to it brings me a sort of indescribable peace. This is why it’s become so easy to keep revisiting this story over and over again.

I first read this novel in April 2014, and although I went in hesitant, I came out of it with one of the most wonderful discoveries of my life. This book means the world to me, and then some. This is the first book I read in which I truly saw myself in the characters.

A book starring Mexican-American characters is rare, but a book starring Mexican-American characters not stereotyped is magical. I adored that aspect the most. Being Mexican, it has always been difficult for me to see myself in any story. I never even considered the existence of novels like this, where Mexicans make up the majority of the characters in a story. And that just blew my mind.

Let me break it down for you. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe follows the story of Aristotle Mendoza, or Ari. He’s a teenage boy living in El Paso during the late 80’s. The summer arrives again, and Ari meets Dante at a community swimming pool. The two hit it off, despite Dante being a complete opposite of Ari, in his personality and looks. Their friendship becomes the focus of the novel, and their lives together and separately, closely showcase the most significant years of their adolescence. These two characters transform and develop throughout this beautiful, lyrical novel in ways unimaginable.

I loved the inclusion of the parents in this story. Ari and his mom share a sweet relationship that’s mostly composed of fun bickering, but it’s apparent how much they love each other. Dante and his dad are the same way, fighting over nothing and conspiring over everything. For years, my mom was one of my closest friend, and seeing similar relationships portrayed in this novel was fantastic. My mom actually read this book after much insistence. She read it just a few months before her passing. I remember the day she finished it. She looked at me in all seriousness and told me she loved it, and that she loved Dante the most. I cannot begin to explain how much that meant to me.

Sexuality is explored in this novel as well. Both of the main characters discuss their sexuality multiple times, in more ways than one. It is done in very realistic ways, especially during the time period it’s set in. Personally, I am open to loving any person, outside of their gender, so this resonated with me. It is incredibly important to shed light on the struggles that people who are not straight face nowadays, and have faced for years, and for that, this book is important. It teaches acceptance and love despite society’s cruelty. And it brings to life a love story like no other.

“The whole world seemed to be quiet and calm and I wanted to be the world and feel like that.”

So for these reasons, and many others, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is my favorite book. Simple as that. It still makes me laugh, cry, and remember. It is now something that constantly connects me to my mother, to my culture, to my younger self, and it is something I never want to let go.

I know this book isn’t perfect. Far from it. But there’s nothing I would change in it. I love the author, Benjamin Alire Saenz, to pieces, and I’m grateful that he wrote such an amazing, memorable story.

And every summer, especially when it’s raining, I’ll think of Ari and Dante. I’ll think of them and life will be just a little bit more bearable.

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Me, with my four copies of Ari & Dante. In English, German, Spanish, and audiobook.