Review: Aristotle and Dante Dive Into the Waters of the World by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Title: Aristotle and Dante Dive Into the Waters of the World

Author: Benjamin Alire Saenz

Genre: YA

Representation: Latinx, Gay

TW: Transphobia, homophobia, hate crimes.

Summary: 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 Thoughts: I wish I could tell you that I wept while reading this book because I had fallen further in love with Ari, Dante and their love story.

I wish I could tell you that when I found myself swearing it was happily, instead of angrily at getting to listen to Lin Manuel Miranda reading this book so perfectly, in the same way, he did the first book.

I wish I could tell you that I loved this.

But I can’t.

It’s 2021.

In 2020 the HRC recorded 44 instances of violence against transgender people, which was the most violence recorded against transgender people since they began recording it in 2013.

It’s 2021 and the HRC thus far has recorded 41 instances of violence. I can only hope more crimes do not get added to the pile.

It’s 2021, and I’m sick of seeing hate crimes being excused in media, in fiction, in reality.

This book had me covering my mouth in horror, as the crime Ari’s brother had committed was described. I closed my eyes and paused the audiobook, unable to listen or look further as I followed along in the book as a transgender person was repeatedly misgendered.

I set the book aside, figuring that I could take a break and go back to it. I finished, but the joy never returned. Well written? I suppose. In the context of the 80s? Sure I can see people excusing it for that reason.

But it’s 2021 and we deserve better, even if the books take place in the past.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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