Young Adult Book Reading Challenges discussion

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message 1: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (new)

Angie | 2687 comments Mod
Now that you are finished what did you think of this book? Did you end up liking the characters? Disliking them? Why do you think Ari and Dante became such good friends?


message 2: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (new)

Angie | 2687 comments Mod
When I first heard about this book and saw people reviewing it I totally assumed it was a fantasy. The cover artwork made me think this was going to be some sort of epic fantasy. So I was really surprised when I discovered what the book was really about.

I like that the characters start out as innocent boys. Honestly the boys were supposed to be 15 but they seemed to act more like they were 12 to me. I loved that Dante was a boy who would cry, save birds, and just be gentle. Then on the other hand we have Ari who is willing to fight anyone and keeps his emotions in check. I do think that the book didn't really have like a major plot. We simply follow these boys through a year in their life.

I liked the book but didn't love it. Not because of anything but it's just not my type of book. I need a little more plot. But it was still a beautiful read and I would recommend it to other people.


message 3: by Grace (new)

Grace (gdaminato) | 520 comments Not one of my favourite books - and definitely not one I would recommend to others - but it could just be bad timing. I just wasn't in the mood for a book like this.

The problem could be with the narrator and not the author. I just found the whole performance so predictable. I also let myself be distracted so I may have missed important nuances in the text. The characters didn't come alive - I still don't know who they are. Their actions seem to be at odds with who they claim to be.


message 4: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (new)

Angie | 2687 comments Mod
I just think there need to be more happening. The only thing that seemed to happen was the car accident. And then after that everyone is just thanking everyone. I wondered if maybe the characters acted the way they did because the book took place in 1987?? I thought maybe coming out in that time was harder.. aids was just becoming known.. the book the Band Played On was published. So I just thought maybe that is what was happening. Though I could be wrong. Still I don't think that justifies the story being dull to me.


message 5: by Grace (last edited May 08, 2014 08:32AM) (new)

Grace (gdaminato) | 520 comments Grace wrote: "I wondered if maybe the characters acted the way they did because the book took place in 1987?"

Ahh...no. I don't think so. I thought I might have missed something so I read (in the actual book, not the audiobook) the last few chapters. The mention of cassette tapes in Ari's truck took me by surprise so I backtracked to discover the book was set in 1987. I totally missed that in the audiobook. I suppose I knew the book wasn't set in the present because Ari's father is a veteran of Vietnam but it didn't feel like the 80's. It's almost as if the clues about the era were set pieces that didn't really affect the way the characters acted - and Ari and Dante and their parents seemed very 21st century to me.

It was hard to come out in the 80's but no harder than it had been in the 20 centuries before that. If anything, it was easier to come out in the 80's in some states because you didn't have to worry about being imprisoned. Unfortunately, Arizona didn't repeal its sodomy law until the beginning of the 21st century so it would have been illegal for Ari and Dante to do anything more than just kiss.

Even in states where there weren't laws against homosexuality, you still had to worry about gay-bashing (what happened to Dante) and having your family shun you (what neither set of parents did). But Ari's family really supported him even going so far as to 'force' him into coming out. That whole scene seemed very forced to me.


message 6: by Roo (new)

Roo James I loved loved loved this book! This was my favourite read of 2013 and as luck would have it (!) I was already rereading it when I happened onto this group and noticed what the book of the month was!

On my first read last year, I described this book to friends as cracking me open like an egg. Aristotle's melancholy was a feeling that was very familiar to me, especially when I was about his age (maybe a bit younger). The prose is just beautiful. It was truly some great poetic writing. I for one didn't find there was a lack of plot. I loved the book exactly how it was. My main gripe is that it ended too soon. I could have stayed in Ari and Dante's life for hundreds of more pages without ever getting sick of it.

Just my thoughts!


message 7: by Lucia (new)

Lucia | 27 comments The author doesn't spell the words in Spanish right. Not even aristoteles. And it really bugs me!!! It's a published book don't they have proofreaders??


message 8: by Grace (new)

Grace (gdaminato) | 520 comments Lucia wrote: "It's a published book don't they have proofreaders??"

I'm sure they have proofreaders. The question is - are they Spanish? Still, you'd think the author would have caught the misspelled words.


message 9: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (new)

Angie | 2687 comments Mod
I wouldn't have even noticed that the words were mispelled. I wonder what that is about???????


message 10: by Lucia (new)

Lucia | 27 comments I don't know but I am a native Spanish speaker (with a Major in Spanish, not bragging just letting you know I have some authority in the matter, lol) and it really bothers me!! Isn't the author Mexican? Boooo :P


message 11: by Lucia (new)

Lucia | 27 comments Grace wrote: "Lucia wrote: "It's a published book don't they have proofreaders??"

I'm sure they have proofreaders. The question is - are they Spanish? Still, you'd think the author would have caught the misspel..."


Isn't he Mexican? Or Hispanic? Unless they spell Mascoto in Mexico and we spell mascotA in Argentina, AristotEles was also spelled AristotIles.


message 12: by Angelicalkiwi (new)

Angelicalkiwi | 7 comments I really enjoyed the book! Not only did I enjoy the language and the flow, the story also felt like a lullaby of sorts. What really got me was the intense feeling that Ari had for Dante, enough to save him from the car. I felt that sensation of immense adoration and fondness that he must have felt for Dante after meeting him, talking to him, and just getting to know him. Simply put - I love their love.


message 13: by Amelia (new)

Amelia | 2 comments I didn't notice anything...


message 14: by Roo (new)

Roo James You didn't notice anything? As in you read the book and didn't notice anything at all about anything? lol


message 15: by Lucia (new)

Lucia | 27 comments I am enjoying the book, almost done. I love the characters but I wished I hadn't read that it was a LGBT novel, which I don't think it is. The reason why I hope I didn't know before hand is because I kept (and keep) expecting for something specific to happen between them two and instead I wished I would have been able to just read with no pre conception. Also, I don't think this should be labeled an LGBT novel, it's just a novel with a gay character in it, that's it.
The book has great phrases and very rich characters.


message 16: by Amelia (new)

Amelia | 2 comments Correction! I didn't notice anything misspelled or any wrong translations, etc but is did overall really love the book and the relationships between the characters and their parents :)


message 17: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (new)

Angie | 2687 comments Mod
That brings up a good point Lucia.... what is a LGBT novel then???? I always assumed it meant that the book included LGBT characters in it.


message 18: by Lucia (new)

Lucia | 27 comments Now that I've finished it I could say it might be an lgbt novel because it's about the "becoming" or realization of the characters sexuality?


message 19: by Roo (new)

Roo James I wish it wasn't labeled LGBT as well. I too was always expecting something. But then I thought maybe not... but then it did... which made me giddy. Ok sorry. lol.


message 20: by Lucia (new)

Lucia | 27 comments But I have to ask... Ari loves Dante, he doesn't necessarily love boys or is attracted to all boys. He just loves this one boy. Does that make him gay? I'm curious.


message 21: by Roo (new)

Roo James I think so. I think what the author was trying to convey with the fact that Ari didn't understand boys or get along with them is because he was confused about himself. I also think his depression and anger had a lot to do with confusion as well. He clearly didn't know himself so how was he going to be happy?
I think the last few pages show that he was finally accepting himself and realizing who and how he was. I think the way the story ends off is not only about the start of a romantic relationship for the two boys, but also the start of happiness and self-assuredness for Ari.


message 22: by Grace (new)

Grace (gdaminato) | 520 comments Lucia wrote: "Now that I've finished it I could say it might be an lgbt novel because it's about the "becoming" or realization of the characters sexuality?"

Now THAT's interesting. In the discussion on more diversity some people (at least two) wanted books that featured lgbt characters but that didn't focus on their sexuality. That is to say - the book wouldn't deal with coming out - you'd just have a character living their life who just happened to be gay.

I'm not saying you're wrong, Lucia. I agree with you. It just seems there's a demand for a broader definition of what IS a lgbt novel.


message 23: by Lucia (new)

Lucia | 27 comments I think I said this before, if not I was thinking about it. I believe the reason why the lgbt novel right now is about "coming out" and they don't just include a gay character like something granted is because it sells more to do the former.


message 24: by Grace (new)

Grace (gdaminato) | 520 comments Lucia wrote: "I believe the reason why the lgbt novel right now is about "coming out" and they don't just include a gay character like something granted is because it sells more to do the former. "

You're probably right - a publisher's perception of the market drives what gets published. According to the wikipedia article on LGBT Demographics in the US fewer than 4% of the population identify themselves as LGBT. That doesn't mean we should ignore that segment of the population - all it means is that any book that deals with LGBT issues has to appeal to the rest of the population, too, if it's to succeed. It seems that, at the moment, books that deal with a young adult's awakening sexuality (whatever it happens to be) is what sells.


message 25: by Angie, YA lovin mod!! (new)

Angie | 2687 comments Mod
Such a great great great comment!! I love also how you added thoughts on Pansexual. I love how this book has brought out so much discussion. I see it discussed on blogs everywhere. I suppose the title means (secrets of the universe) just what the universe meant to those boys. I think the universe is so big that we just have to decide what does the universe mean to each of us in our little lives.


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