I’m not entirely sure where to start this review. Maybe I should start by saying that I loved reading Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, which the man who wrote this book also wrote. Benjamin Alire Sáenz has a whimsical way of writing and I love reading any of his books. This book wasn’t really an exception but it didn’t leave me wanting to read more. I understand that this book follows a family and it is basically a record of their lives but it just wasn’t as gripping as Aristotle and Dante. I never thought about putting the book aside and throwing it into my DNF pile, so at least there’s that.
*I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review and that fact in no way affected my review in any way*
Sal used to know his place with his adoptive gay father, their loving Mexican-American family, and his best friend, Samantha. But it’s senior year, and suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and realizing he no longer knows himself. If Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he?
Before I start I just want to say that this book comes out on March 7th, 2017!
So, I liked this book but I can’t say that I loved it. While I wanted to see how it would end it didn’t really feel like a conclusion to me in the normal sense. This was a more natural conclusion and I think that really suited the novel, even if it left me disappointed. I ended up giving both Aristotle and Dante and this book the same star rating, not because they were alike in any way but just because I couldn’t see myself ever reading them again. To me, neither book was particularly memorable, but I can see myself remembering more about this book than the other.
I loved the fact that the main gay couple in this novel were Sal’s parents. It’s not often that a novel will have a character’s parents be gay or part of the lgbtq+ community and play such a big role in the book. His father and his boyfriend are such caring individuals and I felt that he was a very real person, even if this is a work of fiction. Besides the obvious love between Sal’s dad and his boyfriend, there really isn’t a love story. The main character isn’t given a love interest and he isn’t secretly in love with his best friend and to me, that was really refreshing.
So there are some quotes from this book that made me so happy to read and I really loved that the author put certain things in the book. In one scene Sal says “cleanliness – I don’t think that’s a gender thing” and I’m all about these types of things so this made me so happy. I feel like it’s always great that authors can input their own voice into a story through quotes like this and just the idea that a seventeen-year-old boy thinks that there are no gender roles when it comes to cleaning makes me really happy, even if it is fiction.
I will admit that this book made me sad. It made me really sad. Not because it was bad but because of the topics it covers. It didn’t make me sad the entire way through though but after certain things happen it’s hard to be happy about some things. There are ongoing problems in the characters lives and because of that, it makes it difficult to become happy until the characters themselves are truly happy.
I’m going to finish this review off with one of my favorite quotes from the book and that is: “I don’t think it really matters if your best friend is a boy or a girl. As long as you have a best friend. And anyways, girls are nicer than boys.”