Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on April 9th 2013
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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.
I’m not a huge listener of audiobooks. It’s not that I don’t enjoy them, it’s just that they cost quite a bit of money. It also requires a lot of time commitment. However, once I heard that Lin-Manuel Miranda narrated this book, I knew I had to listen. I’ve seen nothing but positive reviews for this book, so I was excited to be able to form my own opinion about it. I think the awesome and relatable thing about this story is that it’s really about two lonely teenagers trying to find their place in the world. To be honest, it doesn’t have the most complex plot, but the characters and the stories make it worthwhile. I highly recommend this beautifully written novel.
I might be in the minority here, but sometimes it bothers me thinking about these audiobook narrators who are (often) 20 to 30 year olds pretending to be teens. I don’t always find it convincing. With Lin-Manuel Miranda, this was not a problem at all. His narration was filled with such passion, angst, and all the right emotions throughout. Every single voice was so spot on to me, his girl voices seriously cracked me up. Specifically, one of Ari’s friends from school, Gina. Anyway, I could go on and on about how great this audiobook is, but I’ll spare you most of my general ramblings about it.
More on my thoughts about the book itself: how incredible is Dante? At certain points, I wanted to hit Ari for denying things about himself and his feelings. On the other hand though, Dante was a character who knew who he was and he wasn’t afraid to feel everything. Another note, I loved Miranda’s voice for Dante. His voice was higher pitched and rather squeaky. I laughed out loud the first time I heard it. So yeah, Dante was my favorite character by far for a number of different reasons. He’s sweet, loving, passionate, smart, and just the best. I loved the part where he told Ari that he’d never run away because he actually loves his parents unlike most teens. How can you not love him?
I related to Ari a lot more than I thought that I would, at the beginning of the novel, he was an angry teen with no friends. Once he meets Dante at the pool, he becomes a little less lonely. Ari’s brother is in jail and his parents never talk about him, so it feels as if he’s dead. Another reason for his anger is that he doesn’t really fit in with any of the boys in his neighborhood. But he’s not afraid to get in a fight or two if he has to. His angst can definitely get annoying, but I still liked him overall. Another major part of this novel was his incredible parents. I’m not going to say much more, but let’s just say that you’ll love them both at the end for a pep talk they give Ari at the end. Like I said, Ari isn’t my favorite but I did feel like his POV was interesting and full of personality.
Basically, this book probably isn’t for everyone. I still found it to be a beautiful coming-of-age story. It might not appeal to everyone because it can be slow at times, especially in the beginning. Personally, I recommend listening to the audiobook because I was never bored and hung on every single word Miranda read. All the poetic words the author has written translate so smoothly in an audiobook format. It’s an emotionally charged book, prepare to laugh and cry a ridiculous amount.