Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Book Description

In Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, two boys in a border town fell in love. Now, they must discover what it means to stay in love and build a relationship in a world that seems to challenge their very existence.

Ari has spent all of high school burying who he really is, staying silent and invisible. He expected his senior year to be the same. But something in him cracked open when he fell in love with Dante, and he can’t go back. Suddenly he finds himself reaching out to new friends, standing up to bullies of all kinds, and making his voice heard. And, always, there is Dante, dreamy, witty Dante, who can get on Ari’s nerves and fill him with desire all at once.

The boys are determined to forge a path for themselves in a world that doesn’t understand them. But when Ari is faced with a shocking loss, he’ll have to fight like never before to create a life that is truthfully, joyfully his own.

My Review

Readers need to begin with the first book; they need to understand where the protagonists have been in order to fully appreciate the journey they undertake over the course of this sequel.

Ari and Dante fell in love over the course of the first book, and they spend this one exploring their relationship: both the intense feelings of attractions and the emotional aspect of loving someone else so much.

The prose is gorgeous. It’s so lyrical—the words just flow across the page, and when combined with an intriguing storyline, it makes it difficult to put down. The narrative unfolds solely from Ari’s perspective, and being with Dante helps him gather a new outlook on aspects of his life he took for granted, such as his friendship with Susie and Gina from the first book. It also helps him draw perspective on other aspects of his life that he’s been avoiding for years. In both cases, it appears that acknowledging his true self serves as the source of these changes.

With a setting in the late 1980s, the AIDS pandemic is an unavoidable topic for our two protagonists. While neither is directly affected by it in terms of a diagnosis, the public’s reaction to the crisis—ranging from disinterest to outright disgust—does have an impact on the boys. Despite this negativity, Ari and Dante have each other, as well as the support of both sets of parents and their friend group. And that’s all they need.

I would absolutely recommend Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World. On the surface, we have the story of two Mexican-American boys coming of age in the late 1980s, but this is a story with such profound depth. There are so many beautiful quotes about our place in the universe, and solitude, and letting other people in—that are going to stay with me for a long time. My 14 year old read the first book while at summer camp, and was thrilled to pieces to learn that I had an ARC. She devoured it in less than a day, declared it wonderful, and couldn’t wait to tell the friend who loaned her the book about how cool I am. So, long story short, this book has the seal of approval from a member of the target demographic.   

I received an ARC of this book from Simon & Schuster/NetGalley.

The (Un)Popular Vote by Jasper Sanchez

Book Description

Optics can make or break an election. Everything Mark knows about politics, he learned from his father, the Congressman who still pretends he has a daughter and not a son.

Mark has promised to keep his past hidden and pretend to be the cis guy everyone assumes he is. But when he sees a manipulatively charming candidate for student body president inflame dangerous rhetoric, Mark risks his low profile to become a political challenger.

The problem? No one really knows Mark. He didn’t grow up in this town, and his few friends are all nerds. Still, thanks to Scandal and The West Wing, they know where to start: from campaign stops to voter polling to a fashion makeover.

Soon Mark feels emboldened to engage with voters—and even start a new romance. But with an investigative journalist digging into his past, a father trying to silence him, and the bully frontrunner standing in his way, Mark will have to decide which matters most: perception or truth, when both are just as dangerous.

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Thanks a Lot, Universe by Chad Lucas

Book Description

Brian has always been anxious, whether at home, or in class, or on the basketball court. His dad tries to get him to stand up for himself and his mom helps as much as she can, but after he and his brother are placed in foster care, Brian starts having panic attacks. And he doesn’t know if things will ever be “normal” again . . . Ezra’s always been popular. He’s friends with most of the kids on his basketball team–even Brian, who usually keeps to himself. But now, some of his friends have been acting differently, and Brian seems to be pulling away. Ezra wants to help, but he worries if he’s too nice to Brian, his friends will realize that he has a crush on him . . .


But when Brian and his brother run away, Ezra has no choice but to take the leap and reach out. Both boys have to decide if they’re willing to risk sharing parts of themselves they’d rather hide. But if they can be brave, they might just find the best in themselves–and each other.

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Hot British Boyfriend by Kristy Boyce

After high school student Ellie goes viral in a mortifying moment, she doesn’t think that she can possibly go back to school.

So she doesn’t!

She accepts an opportunity to attend a semester abroad in England. The other kids on the trip also go to her school, but they’ve never really crossed paths before because they take all honors and AP classes, and Ellie is more of an average student. This disparity makes her feel a bit awkward, but she’s determined to make it work.

But instead of focusing on school, Ellie’s thoughts drift to hot local boy Will, who is spending his gap year taking a break from school. They hit it off, and it seems like Ellie’s dreams are finally coming true, but then of course, she realizes what’s really important.

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Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales

Darcy has been giving anonymous advice to her fellow private school students for awhile, and it’s a great source of income for her since she’s a scholarship student whose mother works at the school. But when she agrees to help Alexander Brougham, it sets off a series of event that changes everything.  

Darcy specializes in relationships, and her advice is actually useful, focusing on setting boundaries and different attachment styles. But she ends up breaking her own rules in several different ways—this affects her relationships with her friends and loved ones, including her best friend Brooke, who Darcy has been pining over for years.

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Admission by Julie Buxbaum

Chloe is a high school senior living in Los Angeles. Her mother starred in two popular television shows as well as Hallmark movies. Her mother also engaged in an elaborate scheme of cheating and bribery in order to help Chloe get into college.

The narrative alternates between Then and Now, exploring the dual perspectives of the events that preceded Chloe’s mother’s arrest as well as what she and her family do after being implicated in the scandal.  

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Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Rowan Roth has spent her four years of high school locked in a bitter feud with Neil McNair. They compete over EVERYTHING.

Finally, it’s the last day of senior year, and Rowan is determined to beat McNair at Howl, the city-wide scavenger hunt that takes students all around Seattle. There’s a $5k prize waiting at the end.

There’s also a catch—while everyone is going around collecting clues, they are also playing a game of Assassin: elimination means being out of the game.

When Rowan realizes that some of the students—annoyed by her and McNair’s constant one-upmanship of each other—are planning to collaborate and take the two of them out, she has no choice.

So that’s how she and McNair team up together, going all over the city, and getting to know each other for the first time. Maybe they’ll become friends, or—maybe, just maybe—even more than friends.

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Date Me, Bryson Keller by Kevin van Whye

 

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Kai Sheridan is a senior at Fairvale Academy. He’s also gay, but he’s not out to anyone.

Bryson Keller is one of the most popular boys at Fairvale. He’s also involved in a bet/dare: he becomes the boyfriend of the first person who asks him out at the beginning of the week. At the end of the week, they break up and the process starts over.

It’s all about the futility of commitment when it comes to high school relationships.

To be clear, the definition of dating is more akin to the “olden days” than contemporary times: dating involves rides to school and carrying books and there’s no physical stuff—not even kissing.

So, as the story begins during a hectic Monday morning, Kai asks Bryson to date him and Bryson becomes the first person Kai comes out to. Bryson is totally cool with the arrangement; he even points out that the dare involves the first “person” to ask him out, not the first “girl”. Bryson is also fine with not telling people that he’s Kai’s boyfriend for the week since Kai isn’t ready to come out to everyone yet. Read more

The Fascinators by Andrew Eliopulos

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Just about everything in the world of The Fascinators is the same as our world except for the fact that magic is real, and as one might expect, magic is looked upon with suspicion in Sam’s small town in Georgia. That’s probably why the magic club at Sam’s school only has a couple of kids— James and Delia, his closest friends.

The start of Sam’s senior year brings a number of changes: new members of the magic club, a shift in his friendship with James, and the increasing possibility of trouble bigger than they can imagine. Read more