Rating: ★★★★ 1/2
Dante can swim. Ari can’t. Dante is articulate and self-assured. Ari has a hard time with words and suffers from self-doubt. Dante gets lost in poetry and art. Ari gets lost in thoughts of his older brother who is in prison. Dante is fair-skinned. Ari’s features are much darker. It seems that a boy like Dante, with his open and unique perspective on life, would be the last person to break down the walls that Ari has built around himself.
But against all odds, when Ari and Dante meet, they develop a special bond that will teach them the most important truths of their lives, and help define the people they want to be. But there are big hurdles in their way, and only by believing in each other―and the power of their friendship―can Ari and Dante emerge stronger on the other side.
I had an inkling I was going to like this book. From what I’d heard of other people’s reviews, it sounded like something that would be right up my street, and I wasn’t wrong. Granted it did take a few pages for it to getting going, but once it had found it’s feet, I was completely invested in the story.
And that was down to the author’s brilliant way of writing characters that you fall in love with. It was so skilfully done. It wasn’t in your face or obnoxious. The characters felt like real life people; people you could easily see living down the road. It honestly seemed more like I was reading an account rather than a story.
I related so much to our main character Ari. All the feelings he had of not fitting in, of not making friends quite so easily, were things I experienced as a teenager, making me connect to his character so much more. Dante, on the other hand, was the complete opposite of Ari and someone I didn’t see quite so much of myself in. He was a lot more open and free; giving a balance to the duo. His unabashed frankness was definitely something I think Ari needed, in order to work through his problems. And because of all that, it did take me a bit longer to warm up to Dante. It wasn’t until one point later on in the book that I fell in love in with him too. The courage he showed to stand by his principles was something I hugely admired.
One of my favourite things about this book, and any book for that matter, was how big a part family plays. The relationships the boys had with their parents, though different, was very interesting to see. They were complex and flawed but ultimately realistic. They showed me that no family is perfect and that parents can also make mistakes.
On account of this being a coming-of-age story, the plot did take a bit of a back seat. But that’s not to mean it was slow going either. The little nuggets of “action” were just enough to keep me interested but it was how the characters learnt from their experiences that really pushed me along.
The main reason this read so quickly was down to the writing. It was beautifully written. The words were so simple yet there was so much you could decipher from it. There was a lot of dialogue which obviously contributed to me read it fairly quickly. This was again something that felt realistic and was greatly appreciated on my part.
In short, this was one book I throughly enjoyed. It’s definitely one that leaves you thinking long after you’ve finished it. I’ll undoubtedly be re-reading it in the future, picking up on things I may have missed.
I’d highly recommend it.
As always, thanks for reading.