Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Dante can swim. Ari can't. Dante is articulate and self-assured. Ari has a hard time with words and suffers from self-doubt. Dante gets lost in poetry and art. Ari gets lost in thoughts of his older brother who is in prison. Dante is fair skinned. Ari's features are much darker. It seems that a boy like Dante, with his open and unique perspective on life, would be the last person to break down the walls that Ari has built around himself.

But against all odds, when Ari and Dante meet, they develop a special bond that will teach them the most important truths of their lives, and help define the people they want to be. But there are big hurdles in their way, and only by believing in each other―and the power of their friendship―can Ari and Dante emerge stronger on the other side.

“I got to thinking that poems were like people. Some people you got right off the bat. Some people you just didn't get--and never would get.”
I'm not even sure how to talk about the characters without gushing like an idiot. I LOVED ALL OF THEM! Ari, Dante, their parents, Legs and AAARGGHH!! All these characters are so precious that I want to wrap them up and keep them safe!
“I like being alone, Mom. I know you don't get that about me, but I do.”
Ari is a loner; a confused teen with many questions in his head but they never reach his lips. He is in an awkward phase which his mother calls an ecotone. He is a boy who doesn't understand himself. Dante is in an awkward phase too and has many questions. The difference is, his questions always reach his lips. I loved how expressive Dante was. I loved how he'd just come right off the bat and ask or tell Ari everything.
“Your smile is back.' That's what Dante said.
AND OMG! THE PARENTS!! I swear I've never read more wonderful parents in any other book! I adored how Mrs. Quintana loved both the boys and how she says so little but means it with her heart. I loved how Mr.Quintana (Sam) loved his son and how much a PERFECT father he is. I loved how Mrs.Mendoza is strict but wonderful and how willing to listen to her son. I even loved how Mr.Quintana doesn't say much but it shows in his actions how much he loves his wife and Ari. And also there's this thing Mrs.Mendoza says in the last couple pages and I legit cried at what a beautiful astounding human being she is.

Hats off to the author for creating characters who will stay in my heart forever.

There isn't much of a plot per se. The story is exactly what the title says. It's about two boys trying to figure out the secrets of the universe; secrets of their body and heart. The story starts off slow and it made me *slightly* fidgety but then the author pulls you into the story and the lives of the characters and It's mesmerizing.
“This is my problem. I want other people to tell me how they feel. But I'm not so sure I want to return the favor.”
Also I only now realized there's going to be a sequel!


“The problem with my life was that it was someone else’s idea.”
The writing is poetic and concise. There's no fluff; no purple prose. There's a lot of dialogue and I loved it. It's so weird that the writing is kind of to the point and yet I was seeing the whole story in my head while reading. The words bring out Ari's feelings and his thoughts so beautifully- all the loneliness, the confusion, the love and the hatred.

I had just one complaint. WHY IS THERE NO DANTE PoV? I'd have loved to know the precious boy's thoughts and feelings and I cannot but imagine they would have been wonderful! I'd have liked to see some scenes from his PoV - when he's sketching his best friend, when he comes out to the people he loves, when he teaches Ari to swim. He is so expressive with so many emotions that I'm sure seeing these scenes from his point of view would have been beautiful.

- Just about everything.

- the slow start maybe? and the fact that we don't get to see things from Dante's PoV.

This is a book that everyone must read. It's a book about being a teen, coming out, family, love of all kinds, first experiences, friendships, fear, anger and discovery. This is a book about life told in a simple but beautiful way that will capture hearts and yet make them soar.

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