Picture of author.
26+ Works 9,382 Members 470 Reviews 4 Favorited

About the Author

Benjamin Alire Saenz was born in 1954 in his grandmother's house in Old Picacho, a small farming village in the outskirts of Las Cruces, New Mexico. He was the fourth of seven children and was raised on a small farm near Mesilla Park. Later, when the family lost the farm, his father went back to show more his former occupation -- being a cement finisher. His mother worked as a cleaning woman and a factory worker. During his youth, he worked at various jobs -- painting apartments, roofing houses, picking onions, and cleaning for a janitorial service. He graduated from high school in 1972 and went on to college. He studied philosophy and theology in Europe for four years and spent a summer in Tanzania. He eventually became a writer and professor and moved back to the border -- the only place where he feels he truly belongs. show less
Image credit: Larry D. Moore


Works by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Carry Me Like Water (1995) 137 copies
He Forgot to Say Goodbye (2008) 121 copies
The House of Forgetting (1997) 65 copies
In Perfect Light (2005) 64 copies
Names on a Map (2008) 59 copies

Associated Works


1980s (51) audiobook (55) bilingual (42) coming of age (202) contemporary (96) death (32) ebook (52) El Paso (36) English (32) family (166) favorites (68) fiction (434) friendship (198) gay (86) high school (39) historical fiction (35) homosexuality (71) Latino (41) Latinx (46) lgbt (154) LGBTQ (262) LGBTQ+ (45) LGBTQIA (40) love (66) Mexican American (85) Mexican Americans (72) novel (45) poetry (32) queer (62) read (59) realistic fiction (119) relationships (39) romance (161) Spanish (41) teen (53) Texas (79) to-read (1,138) YA (349) young adult (366) young adult fiction (70)

Common Knowledge



Girl kidnapped from Mexico and taken to the U.S. in Name that Book (December 2012)


I might have liked this more as a physical book; as an audio book, it dragged.

ETA: I had a similar experience with [b:In the Dream House|43317482|In the Dream House|Carmen Maria Machado|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1547869259l/43317482._SX50_.jpg|65787792]: unimpressive as an audiobook, engrossing as text. It might have something to do with poetic writing short chapters; I should someday try this one again.
caedocyon | 349 other reviews | Feb 23, 2024 |
I read this in one night—it was an intense, funny, and very readable portrait of two boys and their families. I feel compelled to compare it to A Separate Peace - the books have only a few elements in common but they seem to comment on one another.

Writing in first person, Saenz' pacing feels a little off, and the narrative style sometimes breaks conventional rules about showing vs. telling. I think this happened because he was listening to the voice of his character so intently, so it's not a grave fault.

The ending was not surprising, especially if you saw it reviewed, as I did, in professional magazines, but it was still very sweet.
… (more)
raschneid | 349 other reviews | Dec 19, 2023 |
4.5 stars. This book made me laugh and cry, and it's been a while since a book has made me cry. I love Ari and Dante and their families are great. I liked seeing the contrast between Ari and Dante; Dante is very open and vulnerable and not afraid to be himself or say how he feels. Ari is emotionally closed off, which he gets from his parents, especially his dad. Ari has a hard time opening up to people and letting them in but Dante has a way of getting past his walls and barriers and I love seeing their friendship in this book. This is definitely a coming of age story and both Ari and Dante are learning about life and themselves. It was also interesting to see Dante's struggle with his identity as a Mexican American and not feeling like a "real" Mexican, though I wish we could have seen more of that internal struggle but we aren't reading from Dante's POV so I understand why we're limited. This book isn't very big on descriptions, so if you like a lot of descriptions than this is a downside, however I feel like the writing is very realistic and true to the voice of a 15 year old teenage guy (they're usually not big on descriptions). Overall I really enjoyed this one.… (more)
VanessaMarieBooks | 349 other reviews | Dec 10, 2023 |



You May Also Like

Associated Authors


Also by

Charts & Graphs