contemporary, review, Young Adult

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

Hello Everyone! It is a cold afternoon today in our country, a brief rain shower ensued thus the peppermint tea and a book review is now warranted! But seriously though, even though I’ve been meaning to write this review for a time, I am now also writing this because I am heartbroken over a character death. IT. JUST. FUCKING. HURTS.

“Hold the door”T_T

On a lighter side! Let’s get to the review!

The Book:

Title:  Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Edition/Format: Trade Paperback, 359 pages

Year Published: 2012

Synopsis: Aristotle is a socially awkward teen, full of self doubt and struggles with self identity. One summer he meets Dante, an articulate self-assured boy with a unique view in life. They then strike a one of a kind friendship, a kindred respect for each other. Over the years, the friendship they develop will help them along self discovery, overcoming different hurdles in life as they become individuals in their own terms.

What I think about it:

I admittedly haven’t read a lot of books with LGBT themes but I can pretty much say that this book is definitely well written to handle such vast and significant topic. Let me start  by describing how well thought-out and relatable the characters are. Aristotle or Ari is a kid we all know but dismiss sometimes, because we just assume that he is just going through a phase just because he is a “teenager”. But I think adults, especially parents, should stop thinking this way. Being a teenager is difficult, confusing and disorienting. However, if the nurturing side of an individual follows thru, it can be the most wonderful time of your life. Ari didn’t have abusive parents, in fact he was always well loved and I felt like he was raised to be a good kid. However, because of circumstances from his past, he grew up feeling a sense of hollowness that his parents never really noticed until later on. I sometimes can relate to Ari, because it can be difficult to talk to your parents about the issues you went thru as a teenager. You have this insatiable fear that you might be dismissed immediately even if you have a valid reason for doing what you did. You can say that Ari is the very grey side of the coin, somewhat jaded and brooding for his age.

Dante however is the colorful, dreamer side of the coin. When Ari and Dante crosses path, Dante gives Ari the push he needs to take a chance in seeing the world in another way. Dante is the polar opposite of Ari, he is inquisitive, expressive and adventurous. I think in a way Ari in return influences him to find his own identity and to look beyond his insecurities. Together, they form a bond that is undeniably strong over the years. What I love about these characters is that they are not perfect individually, but together they fit perfectly. I know it’s such a cliche to think of it that way, but consider that your lifetime friends, those who love you for who are, are people that are meant to fit you perfectly in this unruly world.

The story is told within a couple of years while the boys are growing up. I think the pacing is just right just because you can’t hurry or force a developing friendship in just a few pages. You need this characters to be separated for them to discover their identities, and to be together, for them to help each other out in their journeys to self discovery. I think that’s what’s wonderful in the authors skill to allow each character to shine while gearing up for the next event to happen. The family relationships in this book is also well written. It leads you to see that no family is a perfect one, however family is family and you can’t trade them any other way.So you must either hate them or love them to bits.

While reading this book, I do feel I am included in Ari and Dante’s adventure in discovering the secrets of the universe. This inclusiveness makes me realize some of the most significant things in life, like family,friends and ones self. I guess, in the end, Ari and Dante did discover what the secret is, it is perhaps that they became the universe to each other. I think that is all the secret in this universe they needed to know.

” I wondered what that was like, to hold someone’s hand. I bet you could sometimes find all the mysteries of the universe in someone’s hand”

Thank you for reading! See you again! 😀


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