Welcome to our very own series called Notebook Sisters Approved!
(Because we’re modest about our opinions like that.) Basically: we pick one thing out of a book or series that we approve of! That thing (hopefully) is revolutionary or breaks trends or involves delicious food. We’re classy.
Up for analysation today is Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz.
Oh, I’m so glad you asked. Here, have some popcorn and get comfy.
I greatly approve of the parents in Aristotle and Dante.
(Excuse the abbreviation, but I get exhausted typing all that out every time. Call me lazy! Actually don’t.)
“Absentee” parents are normal in books, particularly YA or MG.
Why? Obviously you can’t have fun if you’re a parent, and therefore if kids want to have a) fun or b) adventures or c) discover their magical powers…they can’t have parents around to stop them.
This is how books usually deal with parents:
(WARNING: If parents are reading this, I apologise, but the next bit may get rather gruesome for your kind.)
– Die in battle.
Like in Partials and Ranger’s Apprentice.
– Abandons and/or vanishes.
Like in Half Bad and Gone.
Like in The False Prince and Harry Potter.
– Die in fire.
This is terribly common (I have no idea why), but just look at As Stars Fall and A Series of Unfortunate Events.
– Die of terminal disease.
Like in Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy and Brother Brother.
– Works works works 24/7.
Like in The Geography of You and Me and Under the Never Sky and Incarceron and Coraline and Shiver.
– Are evil or crazy.
Like in Transparent and Panic and Angelfall and How to Lead a Life of Crime.
– JUST PLAIN DIES.
Like in Throne of Glass and Scan and Mind Games and The Bear and The Last Thirteen and Shadow & Bone and Cinder and Sisters Red and Unbreathable and…
OKAY WE GET THE PICTURE.
Parents are quite the dying breed in books. There’s just something weak about them, obviously, and they struggle to get through 300-pages of teenage drama alive.
But I quite like my parents (hi, parentals probably reading this) and I reading about their race is interesting in books. After all, I’ve only got one set of parents myself, so — just like I enjoy reading to experience things like jumping out of planes and attacking castles — I like to see how other parents relate to their children.
Which is why I’m impressed that Aristotle and Dante actually featured two (imagine that! two!!) sets of parents who were supportive and caring.
Ari’s father was a Vietnam War veteran. His mother was a school teacher. While his dad was quite shellshocked and didn’t talk much and Ari chaffed because they never related — they actually did try.
Ari’s father’s way of communicating was to read the books Ari was reading. And the banter between Ari and his mother was fabulous.
Dante’s parents were younger (I think?) and very arty and vibrant. His father was a writer. Father and son greeted each other with a hug and kiss (though if you ask me, that’s kind of weird — but hey! I’m not Mexican so what do I know?). Dante’s mother was soft and fell in love animals.
But the fact of the day is: both of the boys had NICE parents who CARED about them and were an active part of their lives. That is unusual. I wish it wasn’t.
Parents are kind of important.
Parents actually can be handy in adventures. It would be awesome if they were used more. I know, I know! Yes, they can get in the way. If the Harry Potter still had parents, his series would be extremely different. For instance: Harry wouldn’t be famous. Or Chosen. Or have a scar.
But, often times, books kill off the parents but STILL use and adult mentor! Look at Ranger’s Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlan. Will (the narrator) is an orphan. But he has Halt, the old Ranger mentor. He basically has a parent without having a parent.
Parents are useful for giving food, clothes, and hugs. Those things are priceless (particularly the hugs).
I know a lot of YA books are about finding your first love, but why aren’t there more about finding how awesome your families are?
A family that slays together, stays together, after all.
Cait’s family do not slay anything, unfortunately, not even vampires or zombies. They’re boringly normal and only slay things like mosquitos and mould. BUT. They do go to exciting places, like China or the desert or a coffee shop. Coffee is good. Mochas particularly. But she digresses. Currently, she’s reading A MAD AND WICKED FOLLY.