I don’t get this one. Sorry. Ari meets Dante (both Mexican Americans) at the local El Paso pool when Dante offers to teach him how to swim. From that chance meeting a friendship grows. They spend the summer together and then Dante moves to Chicago for a year as his father has a visiting professorship.
During that first summer, Dante sees a wounded bird in the middle of the road and stoops to pick it up. Ari sees a car turning the corner and without thinking, pushes Dante aside, sustaining two broken legs, a broken arm and other injuries. A true friend.
During their second summer, Dante, who has started to admit his homosexuality, gets beaten up by four boys. Ari, who has a lot of anger within, seeks one of them out and beats him up.
Aristotle and Dante discusses many things. Ari’s father is a Vietnam vet and has much of the war still within him. Ari’s brother is in jail and basically purged from the family for reasons unknown until the end. As I said, Ari has much anger within him. Juxtaposed is Dante’s very loving and open family. Their love of their son is evident. Dante is happy with himself, unlike Ari. Throughout, Dante hints and then admits his sexuality and it is obvious he is in love with Ari, who does not return the feeling.
While the book was enjoyable, the ending was unexpected and, to me, did not follow the rest of the book. Saenz is the author of several books and said this is one whose story “must be told”. If the message is that it’s OK for Mexican Americans to love someone of the same sex, that’s fine. But in this particular case, the ending was, as I said, totally unsatisfying.