Well, gosh. I don’t read a lot of books about boys, because I am a literary misandrist, but this is recommended so often that I thought it would be a good fit for August, where my goal was reading something about Hispanic/Latino characters, preferably by a Hispanic/Latino author. In true “me” tradition, I also opted for a book about Teh Gay. And since I couldn’t find anything about wlw that struck my fancy, it seemed like a perfect time to pick up the seminal gay lit classic Aristotle and Dante Discover the Universe.
Because this book is not by a white person writing about Hispanic/Latino people, the characters’ background is not the plot. This is what I don’t like. Lies We Tell Ourselves made sense that blackness was the plot, because it was about integration, for example, but this… this is just a story about some people. You could probably change the background of the characters and it would change some details of the story, some implications, but it wouldn’t affect the plot of the story. It added to the story, certainly, because those details and implications made the story what it was, but it wasn’t the entire story.
But they’re there: there are comments about how being Mexican-American affects them, discussions of what makes them Mexican enough either in appearance (Ari’s skin is much darker than Dante’s) or in action (Dante’s behavior often differs from the “norm”), regular use of Spanish vocabulary (much of which I remembered! I was proud of myself, honestly), discussion with and about both of their families and how their behavior was informed by being Mexican, commentary scattered throughout. The majority of other characters were clearly also Mexican-American and that was really freaking cool.
And what likeable boys! Thanks to fandom, I’m moderately allergic to most pairings of two white boys but, in part because fandom seems to be allergic to pairings involving POC boys as one or both of the involved parties, I am always interested in such a thing. And really, as a romance this is pretty great: it’s slow burn, it involves deep friendship, while it is initially questioned by one party the most dramatic events in the story do not involve this questioning, they deeply care about each other, they both have supportive parents.
I don’t know. I get why this is a classic, is my point.
–your fangirl heroine.