It’s Been a While, but Here’s a Review!


Wow, it has been A LONG TIME since I posted a review. I fell off the blogging wagon last year. Nothing happened to cause that, it was just pure laziness, I’ll be honest. I really want to get back on said wagon and review again, so I’ve been thinking about ways to keep me motivated to write more reviews. I decided I’m going to post monthly reviews instead of a separate review for each book I finish. My reviews are also going to be shorter since there may be more than one book reviewed in each post. I read ‘A Man Called Ove’ by Frederik Backman per my aunt and uncle’s recommendation. They both read it last year and raved about it. I’ve heard good things about this on booktube and Goodreads prior to their reviews, but they solidified my desire to read it when they said it reminded them of my grandfather. Obviously I was hooked then and there because I miss him a ton.

This story is about a man in his late 50’s named, you guessed it, Ove. The novel begins a few months after Ove’s wife, and better half, Sonja, passes away. He spends the entire novel wrestling with the decision to be with her because his life without him just isn’t the same. There’s actually a quote I loved that says, “He was a man of black and white. And she was color, all the color he had.”

Ove is a curmudgeon who has his opinions and doesn’t like for them to be tried or altered. He doesn’t like change and he especially doesn’t like the rate at which the world around him is changing. When a family moves in next door, Ove finds himself in various situations that are both comical and life changing. Ove follows a strict routine every day that consists of taking a walk around his neighborhood For a daily inspection to make sure rules are being followed and nothing is out of sorts. This made me laugh because as we see throughout the novel, nothing is ever as it should be in Ove’s eyes. It’s always the opposite.

We meet various neighbors throughout the novel that test Ove’s patience but transform him as well. The character development of Ove was truly one of the best I’ve read in a long while. We literally watch Ove come out of his shell little by little in each chapter. The story also goes back in forth in time from Ove’s childhood to his young adulthood and then to his present day self. We get to learn about his wife and his upbringing.

My favorite thing about this story was how much I saw my grandfather in Ove. My grandfather was grumpy and set in his ways but he also surprised you most of the time. Above all, my grandfather had the biggest heart I can imagine and would have done ANYTHING for his family, just like Ove. I’m so glad I read this story and I’ll definitely be picking up more of Frederik Backman’s novels in the future.

My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


April Currently Reading & A Court Of Thorns And Roses Re-read

Hey guys! Just checking in to update you all on what I’ve been reading and what books I have planned to read for the rest of this month!

First up, I decided to read the great classic The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Last year I heard the news that a Hulu series based on this book was going to be made and released this year. It’s kind of sad to me how I tend to discover books, or they won’t won’t spark my interest, until I learn about them being optioned for a TV or film series. But, I digress.

I’ve seen this book on numerous favorite books lists across the internet and I’ve always been intrigued by it. Except, for some reason I kept forgetting to read the synopsis. I really didn’t know what this story was about or how profound and alarmingly eery it relates to our time. Especially right now. Synopsis aside, I honestly thought it was written in the late 1800’s. In my defense, I came up with that assumption based off of the cover. It just looks so classic and medieval!


However, I did do my research and realized how fitting and timely it is for this book to be made into a series. And even more so, now that we’re living in a He who shall not be named, era where women’s right’s and equality need to be fought for even harder. It’s daunting, but I’m glad this book is getting new attention and gaining more readers. I did start reading a copy from the library and I was able to get drawn into the story, but I noticed that a lot of people expressed that they enjoyed listening to the audiobook so I decided maybe listening to it would help me keep my interest in tact. I re-activated (then cancelled, shhhhhh) my audible subscription so I could purchase it for $14 instead of $29.

A cool thing about this audiobook is that it’s narrated by the actress Claire Danes, who, besides Elizabeth Moss playing Ofred in the Hulu adaptation, is so great and really brings Ofred to life in the book. I’m kinda, almost halfway through and I’m really enjoying it so far. I’ll update with a full review once I finish!


The other book I’m reading is Letters To The Lost by Brigid Kemmerer. This is a YA book about a girl named Juliet Young. Juliet recently lost her mother and she’s still grieving. Juliet visits her mother’s grave every day, leaving her letters that she wrote. One day she returns to her mother’s grave to find that someone has replied to her last letter. At first she’s furious, but then she writes back to the stranger who, in turn, replies again. That stranger is the rumored notorious senior class “juvenile delinquent” Declan Murphy. Declan is doing community service at the cemetery for a crime that haunts him every day. One afternoon he answers a letter he finds on a headstone.

Neither Juliet nor Declan know who one another is. Actually, they both know OF one another, but they don’t know that either of them are behind the letters that they send. Juliet and Declan are somehow drawn to one another after a series of run-ins at school. I’m about midway through and I like it a lot. It does kind of remind me a little of ‘You’ve Got Mail’ with the anonymous back and forth in messaging, but I love ‘You’ve Got Mail’ so I’m down with that. Actually, I’m at a part where Declan has found out who his “Cemetery Girl’ is, and he’s struggling to decide if he should tell Juliet outright who he is, or keep his identity hidden. I kind of like knowing something that the main character doesn’t.

I’ve took out this graphic novel, Giant Days Vol. 1 by  John Allison, Lissa Treiman, and Whitney Cogar. These graphic novels chronicle the collegiate lives and adventures of three girls, Susan, Esther, and Daisy.


I also grabbed our copy of the graphic novel Nimona by Noelle Stevenson from the library. This one’s about a young, villainous shapeshifter named Nimona and her sidekick, Lord Ballister Blackheart.  I’ve heard a lot of good things about it and I’m in an adventurous mood. I’m also going to have a long weekend due to the Easter holiday, so these will be perfect for my little staycation!

Lastly, my friends, I am going to talk for the billionth time about the near masterpiece that is Sarah J. Maas’s A Court Of Thorns And Roses series. If you have not read it yet, or plan on reading it, there are spoilers ahead so ah, proceed with caution as they say.

A Court Of Wings And Ruin  or ACOWAR, is just 20 days away. 20 . DAYS. AWAY. I am so excited and so nervous and so ready to go back to the Night Court and hang out with Feyre and Rhys and the rest of the Night Court gang and go on new adventures with them. I just get so giddy about this series, it’s ridiculous. As I previously mentioned in my ACOMAF Playlist blog post from two weeks ago, I am mentally preparing myself for this next installment. I’ve been listening to my playlist non-stop, gabbing about it at work with my dear friend and co-worker, Michallyn. I’ve bought a gorgeous ACOMAF quote bookmark, I even bought bookish ACOMAF themed candles (don’t @ me, I admit I am obsessed), and as of this morning I finished my re-read of ‘A Court Of Thorns And Roses’.


I have so many thoughts. There are so many things I missed reading this the first time around. One thing I love about re-reading, and especially going back to the first installment of a series after reading the books that follow, is combing through and discovering things that connect and bring the story together. Like events, phrases, or even characters you may have had previous opinions of based on the events in the first book that may have changed in the second *ahem* Rhysand. But now that you know what happens and how things play out, you can weave everything together and be like, “OHHHHH MY GOD THAT MAKES MORE SENSE!”


Like Rhys and Feyre.


RHYS. I hate how the first book takes literally twenty chapters for him to make his entrance in the story, but now that I know his real deal, every time he would come up in a scene I’d squeal like an idiot. If you think this is embarrassing, and I don’t blame you for rolling your eyes nor do I blame you if you’re suffering from secondhand embarrassment already, because, same. But even worse, and I know I’ll go back and re-read this in a few months time and want to throw my phone or computer, but I just love Rhys so much. I feel like he’s real, even though I am fully aware he is not. I literally have to take off my cardigan at work whenever my friend Michallyn and I talk about him because I get hot flashes.

Okay let’s move along before I die of heatstroke thinking about Rhys.

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But for real, I missed so many things. Like how much of an ass Tamlin was. Even though he was trying to protect Feyre, *insert eye rolling emoji* but also trying to make sure she was eavesdropping on his conversations with Lucien about the current state of affairs regarding Amarantha as well as the other courts in Prythian, he wasn’t as romantic to me as he was the first time I read this. Probably because I literally jumped overboard the ‘Famlin’ ship and onto the ‘Feysand’ ship of dreams (see what I did there?), but still…

Other things that stood out/ I’ve re-discovered/realized:

  • Lucian is wonderful and I hope that even though Feyre will be spying at the Spring Court, that her and Lucien will reconnect. I love their friendship so much.
  • I keep wondering if during Fire Night, when Feyre kept hearing that voice inside her head telling her “Go, go see.” WAS THAT RHYS? In some, weird, way.

Which brings me to another question: In ACOMAF, Rhys tells her that he could see her when she was living at the cottage, long before she ever murdered Andras. HOW?! I understand their bond because of the tattoo be puts on her to signify their bargain, but HOW did he know? Just, HOW??

  • “There you are, I’ve been looking for you.”

When I first read this book last spring, I was like, who the eff is this asshole?! Now I’m like HE’S YOUR MATE, FEYRE, RUN INTO HIS ARMS AND NEVER LET GO. *clears throat*

  • “It took me a long while to realize that Rhysand, whether he knew it or not, had effectively kept me from shattering completely.”

YUP. You’ll see, Feyre.

  • “When you healed my arm… You didn’t need to bargain with me. You could have demanded every single week of the year.” My brows knit together as he turned, already half-consumed by the dark. “Every single week, and I would have said yes.” It wasn’t entirely a question, but I needed the answer.

A half smile appeared on his sensuous lips. “I know,” he said, and vanished.

Okay this part made me confused. Like, I feel like this is a moment where her previous assumptions and opinions on Rhys were shaken a bit. This also further alludes to one of the reasons why he helped her under The Mountain in the first place. One of them being that, although the mating bond didn’t click for him, yet. He knew.

  • When Amarantha is literally ripping Feyre apart and Rhysand screams “Feyre!’

I died. Not Tamlin. Not Lucien. Rhysand. Rhysand. Did. That.

  • Rhys and the mating bond

When I first read this, the part with Rhys and the mating bond literally flew over my head. Until I read other reader’s reviews and they were all asking “What was with Rhys in the end? Why did he stumble?” and I was like, “Wh- whaaaaaaa?!



I also realized that it didn’t click for Rhys until that moment because while they were talking, Feyre was mostly looking out at the mountain and then talking about her new fae body and looking at that. BUT,  when they finally gaze into one another’s eyes, intently, Rhys is like, IGOTTAGOBYE

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These GIFs are literally perfect considering I picture Brendan Urie as Rhysand so… *Coughs politely*

So that’s it for today. I’m gonna go read ACOMAF and die and think about Rhys…

Review: Close Enough To Touch by Colleen Oakley 

Hello, friends!

I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying whatever you’ve been reading! I just finished a book called ‘ Close Enough To Touch’ by Colleen Oakley. This was a very sweet and moving story about a young woman named Jubilee Jenkins who has an allergy to *wait for it* human touch. Woah, right?!

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Stories & Characters That Stick With You – A Playlist 

*Sighs dramatically* 

You guys, I’m going through some terrible ACOMAF (A Court Of Mist And Fury) withdrawal. I’m talking like, the book hangover to kick all book hangovers to the curb. Despite reading so many awesome books to finish out last year, and quite a few great ones so far this year, none of those books have kept me so invested in their stories and their characters, as well as cause me to think so fondly about it, quite like this series has. I tried to read and get into Sarah J. Maas’ other series, ‘Throne Of Glass’ after finishing up ACOMAF, but it just didn’t do it for me. It didn’t pull me in like ACOTAR and ACOMAF did. Maybe it’s because ACOTAR gave me such a book high. Or maybe it’s because I was technically late to the ‘Throne Of Glass’ party, but I just wasn’t as invested in the story or the characters as I would have liked to be. 

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Review: The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon


Hello, everyone!

I’m currently doing very poorly at posting reviews, I’m so sorry. I really have zero excuse for my lack of posts other than I’ve been very lazy and almost all motivation to post a review is lost. And that is barely an excuse. This winter has taken hold of me like hibernation takes hold of a bear. Also, anxiety and depression, but mostly the cold winter. But I want to do better. I really, really do. I find what really helps me put my thoughts in order after finishing a book, is writing about it. And I’ll never grow as a reviewer if I don’t you know, review. 

HOWEVER, I have emerged from my cocoon of comfy blankets, tea, and junk food to tell you about this book I just read. It’s by the lovely and talented Nicola Yoon, author of the YA hit and soon to be released film, ‘Everything, Everything’. This is her second novel and IT. WAS. AMAZING.

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My Top 12 Books of 2016

Hello, friends! Hope you’re all doing well and I hope you’re all reading something great!

The time has come for me to list and discuss my top twelve books of 2016. I know my opinions on these books most likely won’t be shared by others, but that’s what makes a readers’ experience with their books so wonderful! Everyone views and consumes their books in a unique way; and sees things within the pages that another reader may not.

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Happy Halloween! Happy Thanksgiving! Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Holidays! Happy New Year! Goodbye 2016!!!



You can download this free desktop and phone wallpaper from Lily & Val Living by clicking on the picture!

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October & Halloween Reads! 

Happy October, everyone! I’m going to admit something. I used to hate Halloween. I know, it’s crazy, but it’s true. I mean don’t get me wrong, being a kid, dressing up and filling my pillowcase full with candy was always a highlight every year, but that’s about it. I hated anything scary. Most of it was due to a memory from one Halloween when I was a kid, that I couldn’t shake for some time. When I was 9, my sisters and I went to my aunt’s, who lives a town over, to go trick or treating with my cousins. They lived right next door to my grandparents, and every year we’d go and see my grandparents before we went out into the night in search of candy clad in various costumes. My grandfather would give my sisters and I each $20.00, candy, and a glow stick on a string to wear around our necks (so we wouldn’t get kidnapped because what better way to throw off a captor than a bright, shiny glow stick!?. Joking aside, my grandparents let us go out alone, just us cousins but wanted us to be safe all the same.

Once we had those things we were ready to traipse around the neighborhood and get as much candy that we could get our hands on. Everything was going fine that night. I got a decent amount of candy, even a bunch of change. We even found a house with a family outside grilling hot dogs and handing out sofa to trick or treaters table of hot dogs!  And then we came upon another house, about a block away. It was decorated and the lights were on. I seemed inviting; there was an bowl full of candy on the porch step, and next to it was a person, or maybe it was a scarecrow? I couldn’t tell. All I remember was watching my cousin, Jordan, walk towards the porch to grab some candy when the whirring of a chainsaw pierced the cool, night air and who I thought was a scarecrow, was actually the owner of the home. They  jumped up and began chasing trick or treaters down the sidewalk. I was mortified. I ran away. And ever since then, every house we went to I was terrified to grab any candy for fear that I’d be jump-scared out of my wits and chased down the driveway.

I hate being scared. I avoid haunted houses and haunted attractions. I don’t like scary movies. I do not like jumping out of my seat, close to wetting my pants due to a demon or ghost or what have you, popping out of the screen in front of me. I like creepy thrillers, but even then, there’s always a bang just a tad too loud that forces me to adjust myself in my seat to make it look like I wasn’t scared, I was just fixing my wedgie?

With that being said, I know it sounds like I’m a monster. But I do like Halloween. I like old, creepy movies. And as much as I like old, creepy movies, I like creepy books. Once October arrives, I scour Goodreads to find the book that will keep me up at night. I love scary books because yes, they may scare me, but they won’t make me jump or adjust myself in my seat.

I wanted to share the creepy stories I’ll be diving into this month. Some are scary, some are thrilling, and some are just full of monsters and things that will go bump in the night. I also started reading ‘Outlander’ to lift the mood a little. After I finish each I’ll post a mass review and share my thoughts!

The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics

Through The Woods by Emily Carroll

This Savage Song  V.E Schwab

Slasher Girls and Monster Boys by Leigh Bardugo and others

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

This book. THIS BOOK…

Made my heart so happy!

Prior to purchasing the audiobook version of ‘Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe’ by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, from audible, which is a decision I’ll get to in a minute, I saw this book everywhere. Whether on bookstagram and Goodreads, book blogs  or sites like Bookriot. This book was everywhere. Whenever I saw a fellow bookworm asking other fellow readers on the internet for book recommendations, this book was on practically every long or short-list. And I just had to know! The cover is pretty, yes. I couldn’t help but scan spoiler free reviews that were full of positive boasting in regards to this novel, and the importance of it in the LGBTQA YA novel community.

Like I mentioned earlier, I bought the audiobook version before I cancelled my Audible subscription (sorry, Audible, but you cost a lot!) in July. I wrote a post a few months ago about my love/hate relationships with audiobooks, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. If the narrator doesn’t grab me, I find it hard to listen and turn off my thoughts and stay focused on the story in my ears. This one, however, was different. The narrator of this audiobook is none other than Grammy/Tony/Pulitzer Prize Winning writer/actor/performer Lin-Manuel Miranda. Honestly, if I hadn’t fallen into the wonderful black hole that is Hamilton and Lin-Manuel Miranda back in April, I may not have purchased this. That isn’t to say if I wasn’t into Hamilton I’d write this novel off, because it’s wonderful as it’s own simply on paper. But listening to this with Lin at the helm really pulled me in. I would put in my headphones and just zone out because I just find his voice in general very comforting and nice to listen to. Is that creepy? I hope not. Lin was wonderful with his performances of Ari and Dante. He really brought the characters to life for me, so big props to Simon and Schuster for this. It was also recently revealed that Benjamin Aloee Sáwnz will be releasing a sequel and I’m hoping so much that Lin narrates it! 

It’s important to know that this novel actually takes place in the 1980’s, so the events that transpire and come to fruition are doing so in a less progressive time culturally. Which also leads me to note that this story takes place in the ’80’s despite actually being written in the ’80’s  and without too many references to 1980’s pop-culture that make the reader yell, “We get it! It’s the ’80’s and you love Madonna and Back to The Future!” which is something I sense in a lot of YA novels as of late now that the 1980’s is becoming the hot, “old” decade to write about.

Now, onto the summary. The POV of the novel is told through Aristotle or Ari, Mendoza. Ari is a 15-year old Mexican-American. He is the youngest of three siblings: two sisters  who have grown up and moved away as well as an older brother who we learn is in prison. Ari’s parent’s live as if Ari’s brother doesn’t exist, which becomes a recurring struggle for Ari throughout the novel. When we meet Ari we learn three things: he’s bored, miserable, and lonely. Ari doesn’t shy away from telling his mother he doesn’t have any friends, which Ari pretends doesn’t bother him, but we already know deep down it does.

To cease Ari’s complaining, his mother suggests he go to the local swimming pool and despite not knowing how to swim, Ari agrees. At the swimming pool, Ari meets a boy who introduces himself as Dante Quintana. It’s clear to Ari that Dante is a pretty good swimmer, so when Dante offers to teach Ari how to swim Ari accepts. The pair soon become best friends. They bond over books and reading. Dante likes to draw and he hates to wear shoes. Dante introduces Ari to poetry and classic literature. Despite the two of them being the best of friends their differences are clear: Dante struggles with his Mexican identity yet, his relationship with his parents is much more tight-knit than Ari’s. Ari admires the  relationship between Dante and his parents because it’s the kind of relationship where you’d feel comfortable talking to either parent about anything. Ari’s is the opposite. Ari’s mother tends to constantly see Ari as a little boy. His mother is very conventional and his father doesn’t speak to Ari that much. Ari knows that this is because his father served in the Vietnam War and he doesn’t like rehashing his memories to anyone. This makes Ari angry and wedges more of a distance between them.

One night Dante invites Ari to accompany him and his parents to the desert to look at the stars. Looking at the stars, Dante tells Ari that one day he’ll discover the secrets of the universe and Ari knows that of anyone could make it possible it would be Dante. One afternoon Ari and Dante see a group of boys with a BB gun shooting birds. They confront the boys and together bury the sparrow the boys shot. After the burial, Ari comes down with the flu. The flu brings Ari to have fever dreams. He dreams about calling to his imprisoned brother from across a river and searching for Dante and his father in the pouring rain. As his parent’s nurse him back to health, Dante visits Ari regularly, choosing to sketch Ari while he’s recovering. Ari asks to see the sketches but Dante refuses.

After Ari recovers fully from the flu, Dante reveals that his father accepted a new job in Chicago. Ari is left wondering how the following school year is going to turn out for him. That same day the boys notice and injured bird lying in the street in the pouring rain. As
Dante runs out to save it, Ari sees a car coming down the street, failing to slow down. Ari runs out and pushed Dante and the bird out of the way from the oncoming car, saving his life.  Ari wakes up to both of his arms and legs in casts. Dante, becomes flooded with guilt, but Ari tells him that there are new rules he has to follow:  he can no longer talk about the accident and he isn’t allowed to thank him or cry. This prompts Dante to cry, which angers Ari.

Ari’s anger brings his mother to suggest him to see a therapist. Ari tells her that he’ll see a therapist when she starts opening up about what happened to Ari’s brother. Despite the accident making Ari lash out, it begins to bring Ari and his father closer. Ari reads ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ while his father reads ‘War and Peace’. Ari concludes that maybe this can be their version of “talking”.  This new connection between Ari and his father brings his father to open up about his own nightmares. Ari finally begins to feel connected to his father especially when his father tells him he’d buy Ari a pickup truck for his sixteenth birthday and teach him how to drive. These future plans of getting a truck and getting his casts of cheer Ari up, until the day comes when Dante leaves for Chicago. On their last day together before his departure for Chicago, Dante reveals a secret to Ari: the two things he loves the most are swimming and Ari. Ari tells him not to say things like that, even if they are true.

This new revelation from Dante brings Ari to think about who Dante really is and who he really is as well. The two promise to stay friends and send each other letter while Dante is in Chicago and until he returns. The beginning of the new school year causes Ari to think more about the accident and why he did what he did to save Dante. Sometimes he wishes he didn’t save Dante after all. The day Ari gets his casts off he decides to take a walk by Dante’s house. He goes to the park and finds a stray dog who he takes home. He names her Legs because when he got his casts off.

The new school year begins and Ari’s fellow classmates Gina Navarro and Susie Byrd prompt Ari for answers about the accident, Ari retreats further back into his thoughts and confusions about Dante. On his sixteenth birthday, Ari receives his pickup truck. He devotes his new cast-less freedom to learning how to drive and writing in his journal. He even gets a job at a local restaurant and becoming friends with Susie and Gina. After getting his license, Ari finds himself driving out to the desert to get drunk on beer and look at the stars. Part of this sneaky behavior is due to Dante’s overflowing letters about how he kissed a girl at a party in Chicago and tried beer and smoked pot for the first time. In a way, Ari doesn’t want to miss out part of his curiosity stems from the absence of Dante in his life. In a later letter Dante reveals to Ari that instead of kissing girls he’d rather be kissing boys.

Summer arrives and so does Dante. One night Dante and Ari drive out to the desert to look at the stars. Dante reveals that his mother and pregnant and admits that he hopes she has a boy so his brother can marry a woman and have children. Dante tells Ari he wants to tell his parent’s that he’s gay, but he’s afraid. Ari tells Dante that his sexuality will not change their relationship and that he’ll stick by him. When Dante gets a job at the local drugstore, he tells Ari one night that he has feelings for a boy he works with named Daniel. This immediately draws Ari to have a dislike for Daniel. He doesn’t know why he feels this way other than Daniel rubbing him the wrong way.

In the middle of the summer, Ari’s mother leaves him and his father to visit his Aunt Ophelia for a few days in Tucson, Arizona. However, her visit is cut short when she calls and tells Ari and his father Ophelia had a fatal stroke. Ari and his father drive to Tucson and it’s after the funeral that Ari’s mother reveals to Ari what happened to his brother. She tells him he was arrested for murder when he was fifteen after he killed a prostitute he hired after she revealed to him she was a transvestite. This imprisoned his brother for life. When Ari returns home with the newfound information about his brother, he learns that Dante was sent to the hospital after he was jumped by a group of guys after they found him kissing Daniel in an alleyway. This infuriates Ari and prompts him to find out who the boys that jumped Dante were. He learns that one of boys names is Julian and he works at an auto-shop, Ari goes there and threatens to fight Julian.

Ari’s mother is afraid that Ari is going to end up like his brother after she learns of his fight with Julian. Ari reveals the reason that Dante was jumped was because Dante is gay. Ari also learns that Daniel fled instead of helping or stopping the boys from jumping Dante. When Mr. Quintana asks Ari why Dante was jumped, he tells him that Dante is gay but he did not tell them out of fear fro their reactions. Mr. Quintana’s reaction is one of support for his son. Mrs. Quintana says she believed Daniel was just a stand in for Ari. Ari doesn’t know what to think of this. When Ari returns home his mother calls a family meeting. During the meeting Ari’s father finally tells Ari his an incident from Vietnam that continues to haunt him. He tells Ari that like this incident, which prompted him to run from it, is the same thing that Ari is doing with Dante. When Ari doesn’t quite understand, his mother tells him that he was jealous of Daniel and that Ari loves Dante as much as Dante loves Ari. Ari is at first ashamed and afraid his parent’s are ashamed of him as well, but a revelation about Ari’s Aunt Ophelia shows Ari that his parent’s are anything but ashamed of their son.

After contemplation, Ari comes to realize that his parents are right. Ari realizes that him saving Dante from the oncoming car and his act of revenge on Julian for jumping Dante was him coming to terms with his own feelings for Dante. Dante tells Ari that he isn’t sure if he can just be friends with Ari anymore. That being friends with him would be too difficult for him. When Ari reveals his feelings to Dante they kiss and Ari realizes that while he was searching for the secrets of the universe, he forgot to look inside himself. His answers for those secrets were with him and he realizes he’s loves Dante since the moment they met at the pool that one summer day.

This story was just wonderful and beautiful. Dante has this outlook on life that is both positive and romantic. It was funny at times to see Ari, who has a darker and more sarcastic view on life mesh and sometimes come to a head with Dante’s. Dante drew Ari from his comfort zone. He introduced him to new things and new ways to be. This novel creates an intersection between being a queer person as well as being Latino. These stories are important. All queer literature is important. When teens and adults have ways to connect with literature on a personal level, reading about characters with different sexualities and nationalities create a safe space for people to relate and simply be themselves. In these stories queer people of color can find a deeper connection to a story’s characters. Often when I read books with queer characters, it’s no secret that a large amount of these characters are white and middle class. While the understanding and coming to terms with one’s sexuality is universal, it’s important to remember that the struggles and acceptance of a person’s sexuality is not limited to white people.

Although Dante is more open about his sexuality, he still feels he doesn’t have a connection to his Mexican identity. He tells Ari at one point that he “doesn’t feel Mexican because he likes boys.” Ari replies that he doesn’t “think liking boys is an American invention.” This not only allows Dante and Ari to possess their queer identities, but prompts them to know that they have an equal place in the world just as much as any other queer person. Regardless of their nationality or skin color. They are equally important individuals. Not only does queerness NOT define a person, but it is also NOT an American made way of being. It’s an anyone anywhere and whoever, way of being.

Favorite quotes:

“What do you love, Ari? What do you really love?”

“I love the desert. God, I love the desert.”

“It’s so lonely.”

“Is it?”

Dante didn’t understand. I was unknowable.” –Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

“I love swimming”

“I know,” I said.
“I love swimming,” he said again. He was quiet for a little while. And then he said, “I love swimming—and you.”
I didn’t say anything.
“Swimming and you, Ari. Those are the things I love the most.” –Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

“Another secret of the universe: Sometimes pain was like a storm that came out of nowhere. The clearest summer could end in a downpour. Could end in lightning and thunder.” – Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

“I wanted to tell them that I’d never had a friend, not ever, not a real one. Until Dante. I wanted to tell them that I never knew that people like Dante existed in the world, people who looked at the stars, and knew the mysteries of water, and knew enough to know that birds belonged to the heavens and weren’t meant to be shot down from their graceful flights by mean and stupid boys. I wanted to tell them that he had changed my life and that I would never be the same, not ever. And that somehow it felt like it was Dante who had saved my life and not the other way around. I wanted to tell them that he was the first human being aside from my mother who had ever made me want to talk about the things that scared me. I wanted to tell them so many things and yet I didn’t have the words. So I just stupidly repeated myself. “Dante’s my friend.”

Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

My rating: 5/5

P.S I fully recommend anyone interested in this book to listen to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s splendid narration of the audiobook.