So, this 18-syllabled title is the name of the book about Aristotle Mendoza, who prefers the name Ari. Actually, Aristotle is his middle name, his real name being Angel. Anyway, it's 1987, and this Mexican-American from El Paso is drudging along in his life, keeping himself distant from as many people as he can. Even Gina Navarro and Susie Byrd, who simply hang out with him but annoy him at the same time. He's mostly miserable because over a decade ago he had a brother named Bernardo who ended up going to prison and his family neglects to even bring him up, and Ari hates it hates it hates it. In fact, he pretty much hates everything. Hates guys, hates girls, hates television, hates flowers, hates his family, hates sunlight even. Then one day at the town pool another Mexican-American named Dante Quintana (who has skin much much lighter than Ari's) comes up to him and offers him swimming lessons when he sees Ari clearly has no experience in water. The two begin a friendship afterward, which also brings their parents together too, and as Ari tries to understand Dante's overenthusiasm and strange love for birds + hate for shoes, and Dante tries to understand Ari's denial, the two try to uncover the secrets of the universe, about life, love, acceptance, happiness, and what goes on in their heads.
Aristotle is the antihero of all antiheroes. "I'm angry and I don't know where all that anger comes from" perfectly describes him. You'll either want to hug him or say "You need to get a life" to him, which makes him a protagonist we might not always agree with, but we're also always interested in what's going on in his head. The chapters are also so minuscule that the pages fly by as well. But a large portion of these chapters seem to only be repetitions about Ari being mad about everything, which he acknowledges. Because of how slow the book can be, I found it to be enjoyable, but kind of underwhelming and not quite that enthusiastic.
[MINOR SPOILERS IN THIS PARAGRAPH] I like Dante, but there can be some things I don't get about him. He clearly likes to kiss his gender, and when he says he kissed Daniel he imagined kissing Ari, it's sweet, but the fact he was doing so makes him seem like kind of a deserter. And so is Ari sometimes, which I don't mind as much because it seemed intentional that way, but he tended to do some things that Dante forgave a little too easily.
There's also a side story that takes place in the length of this book when Ari and Dante are apart. It seemed a little unnecessary and seemed a little undermining of their friendship. I'm a writer who likes to write stories that only take place for a few days. It's hard for me to pass off weeks and months, but this book is good at it.
The ending is pretty excellent. I don't think anyone won't enjoy the conclusion. Even if I found it to be a little obvious, it worked because it's sweet and beautiful to picture. It's even kind of shipping and a little heartbreaking, so I might move my grade up to a two and a half
Aristotle and Dante is not a bad book. Just for me, I've read a lot of other books this year that were much better, and I found this one to be a little too forgiving and it didn't leave me as energetic as I was hoping. However, I've heard rumours Benjamin Alire Saenz is writing a sequel to this book. He's on my radar.