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Fifteen-year-old Ari Mendoza is an angry loner with a brother in prison, but when he meets Dante and they become friends, Ari starts to ask questions about himself, his parents, and his family that he has never asked before.
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* "A tender, honest exploration of identity and sexuality, and a passionate reminder that love—whether romantic or familial—should be open, free, and without shame." (Publishers Weekly, starred review)
* "Authentic teen and Latino dialogue should make it a popular choice." (School Library Journal, starred review)
* "Meticulous pacing and finely nuanced characters underpin the author's gift for affecting prose that illuminates the struggles within relationships." (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)
"Sßenez writes toward the end of the novel that “to be careful with people and words was a rare and beautiful thing.” And that’s exactly what Sßenez does—he treats his characters carefully, giving them space and time to find their place in the world, and to find each other...those struggling with their own sexuality may find it to be a thought-provoking read." (Booklist)
"Sßenz has written the greater love story, for his is the story of loving one’s self, of love between parents and children, and of the love that builds communities, in addition to the deepening love between two friends." (VOYA)
"Ari’s first-person narrative—poetic, philosophical, honest—skillfully develops the relationship between the two boys from friendship to romance." (The Horn Book)
"Primarily a character- and relationship-driven novel, written with patient and lyrical prose that explores the boys’ emotional lives with butterfly-wing delicacy."--Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Sßenz is a master at capturing the conversation of teens with each other and with the adults in their lives." (Library Media Connection, Recommended)
"This book took my breath away. What gorgeous writing, and what a story! I loved both these boys. And their parents! Don't we all wish we had parents like theirs? The ending - and the way it unfolded - was so satisfying. I could go on and on...suffice it to say I will be highly recommending it to one and all. I'm sure I'll reread it myself at some point. I hated having it end." (James Howe, Author of Addie on the Inside)
"I’m absolutely blown away. This is Saenz's best work by far...It’s a beautiful story, so beautifully told and so psychologically acute! Both Ari and Dante are simply great characters who will live on in my memory. Everything about the book is absolutely pitch perfect...It’s already my favorite book of the year!" (Michael Cart, Booklist columnist and YALSA past president)
Benjamin Alire Sßenz is an American Book Award-winning author of poetry and prose for adults and teens. His first novel for young adults, Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood was an ALA Top Ten Book for Young Adults and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His second novel for teens, He Forgot to Say Goodbye won the Tomas Rivera Mexican American Children's Book Award and the Southwest Books Award (Border Regional Librarians Association) and was a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age. A former Wallace E. Stegner Fellow in poetry, Sßenz is a professor in the creative writing department at University of Texas, El Paso.
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