First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther. Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.


In Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, two boys in a border town fell in love.

Now they must discover what it means to stay in love and build a relationship in a world that seems to challenge their very existence.

Ari has spent all of high school burying who he really is, staying silent and invisible. He expected his senior high to be the same. But something in him cracked open when he fell in love with Dante, and he can’t go back. Suddenly he finds himself reaching out to new friends, standing up to bullies of all kinds, and making his voice heard. And, always, there is Dante – dreamy, witty Dante – who can get on Ari’s nerves and fill him with desire all at once.

The boys are determined to forge a path for themselves in a world that doesn’t understand them. But when Ari is faced with a shocking loss, he’ll have to fight like never before to create a life that is truthfully, joyfully his own.

Happy Friday everyone! We are two workweeks down in 2022. I hope you are all still keeping your cool, especially my fellow accountants who have survived (I hope) the tediousness of year-end closing activities. It sure was two frantic weeks that welcomed us this 2022. Nevertheless, I hope that things will start looking up in the coming weeks. I pray that we all heal and recover as the proverbial “busy” season is knocking over the horizon. More than that, I hope 2022 will be a great year for everyone, that it will be a kind year brimming with hope, healing, and recovery. I also pray that we will all achieve all the goals that we have set for ourselves. More than that, I hope and pray that you are all doing well, in body, mind, and spirit. I hope that the pandemic ends soon. Hope, after all, springs eternal.

But before we “dive” into the weekend, let me close the workweek with another First Impression Friday update. Since the year started, I have been catching up on my 2021 reading list; basically, I have been reading books published in 2021. I have been successful so far for I have already completed four and I am currently on my fifth! Yes, I can’t believe that I am already on my fifth book of the year. Mid-2021, the topic for a Top Five Tuesday update was highly anticipated books in the second half of the year. A quick Google yielded familiar names such as Anthony Doerr, Colson Whitehead, and Benjamin Alire Sáenz. I didn’t know that these three writers were publishing new works. Without more ado, I added their latest works to my growing reading list. I am already done reading Whitehead’s Harlem Shuffle and I am currently reading Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World (such a long title!).

When I learned about the sequel to Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, I was ecstatic. I have great memories of the book even though it has been six years since I read it. This made me look forward to its sequel, which was physically heftier than its predecessor. In the second book, Alire Sáenz picked up where he left off. We again meet Aristotle and Dante, who are both enjoying the summer after their junior year. They were also having a high time after they finally settled their feelings for each other. Their parents knew of their relationship. However, the world beyond their home is fraught with uncertainties and challenges.

While I was looking forward to the novel, I wasn’t too keen on how it started. The first 100 pages were brimming with repeated thoughts of desire and intimacy. I can understand since both Ari and Dante were learning to cruise through uncharted territories. I feel like Alire Sáenz was warming up the readers with romance first. However, it does get to a point that it gets too much. I breathed a sigh of relief once they crossed the bridge. From this point on, the landscape of the story to chance as it grappled with seminal subjects. Thankfully, it did.

It is important to reiterate the period and place the story was set: late 1980s El Paso. This is important in gaining an understanding of the details of the story for the story of Ari and Dante was juxtaposed to a world that was still learning to embrace homosexual relationships. There still existed anger or contempt by the general population on homosexual relationships. This was further abetted by the growing AIDS pandemic that was sweeping the LGBTQ community. These are the realities that both Ari and Dante have to navigate. Their parents were there to support them and guide them but the world can be so unkind, as Ari’s father has reminded his son.

A lot has happened and is happening in Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World that sets it apart from its predecessor. I was reeled in by the vast area of seminal subjects, such as discrimination, homosexuality, racism, among others, that the book was dealing with. However, at times, I do have to remind myself that the book was set in 1980s Texas. As the story moved forward, I can’t help but notice the absence of Dante. He feels like an afterthought as Ari’s voice keeps dominating the story. There is very little insight into Dante except on what Ari has noticed. Nevertheless, I am hoping to get more of Dante’s insights in the last 140 pages for I feel like there are more important events that will take place. These events will shape Ari and I hope that Dante figures in more on this development.

One thing also kept bugging me. Was Ari this angry in the first book? There is so much angst in the sequel that, at times, I am thrown off. I am guessing this anger will subside as the story moves forward. I hope he finds his voice but why do I get the feeling that Alire Sáenz will leave the readers hanging? Hmmm. I hope not. I want to find out and I just might finish the book before I call it a day. How about you fellow reader? How are you enjoying your current read so far? I hope you are loving it. For now, happy Friday! Happy weekend! As always, happy reading!