Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

April 29, 2014 Fiction, LGBT, Romance, Young Adult 11

12000020Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Source: library
Rating: ★★★★★
Summary: This was perfect.

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.” (Source)

Although I’d heard fantastic things about this book, I was nervous about whether I’d be able to relate to a book about two teenage boys. I was so silly. The characters in this book are real, so much so that knowing nothing about being a teenage boy, I’m still convinced the author captured them perfectly. In fact, I’d say the reason I cried when I finished this book was because it was so raw and real and sad but also so beautifully happy all at the same time. I never thought I’d find myself saying this, since I generally avoid emotional books, but I loved it because it gave me all of the feels. Forget whether or not you get teenage boys (and really, does anyone get teenage boys?). This is a book about two people who are brought to life more vividly than any other characters I’ve ever read about. It’s also by far the most invested I’ve ever been in a fictional relationship.

Everyone knows this book as a book about LGBT issues, but the boys in this book also deal with everything from choices about sex and drugs to being part of a minority. These weighty topics were covered in a way that was profoundly moving and thoughtful without ever being preachy. Seriously, I don’t usually even notice quotes in this book and every few pages, the author was saying something that captured a truth so perfectly, I had to go write it down. The writing was fantastic in other ways as well. As you might guess from my raving about the feels, the author does a great job capturing emotion. For instance, when Ari and Dante meet, the author has a description of how it feels when you meet someone and just know you’re going to be friends. He described the feeling in a way that really resonated with me – hey, I’ve been there! And his pacing was spot on. I liked the short vignettes of Ari’s life which let  me get to know him bit by bit. And the staccato sentences of conversation popping back and forth between good friends was part of what brought the characters so much to life.

In short, I think the author tackles incredibly difficult issues in a moving and thought-provoking way. I think he makes great points about acceptance and responsible choices without explicitly saying anything to that effect. He perfectly describes the turmoil of being a teenager and the challenges of being human. So go hand this to a teenager. Then get a copy for yourself.

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11 Responses to “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe”

    • DoingDewey

      How exciting! I’ve been hearing good things about this book from many of the YA books I read for quite some time, so I didn’t think I’d get to introduce it to anyone. If you pick it up, I hope you love it as much as I did 🙂

    • DoingDewey

      Exactly! I thought about doing a The Fault in Our Stars read-along before the movie came out, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Ari and Dante though was just the right amount of emotional and the ending being happy probably helped too 🙂

    • DoingDewey

      It is such a beautiful cover! I don’t read books about teen boys very often either, but I’ll be more nervous about doing so after falling in love with this one.

    • DoingDewey

      As is surely clear from my review, I certainly think it’s worth picking up! I don’t often read YA which tackles big issues, but I think perhaps I should 🙂