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

Posted February 16, 2015 by shooting in Uncategorized / 30 Comments

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

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from library; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: 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

Review: I was assigned this book for my YA literature class, and as I’d heard wonderful things about it, I was quite excited. After finishing this book, I knew it would be one that I would think on for awhile. It’s a modern classic and something that more people should read. I got my copy from the library for my class, but I hope to buy my own copy to keep and re-read in the future.

The book starts in 1987, but it’s essentially timeless. This book isn’t really about the place or the time period. It’s about these two teen boys who go through many of life’s hardships but who always find their way back to each other. Dante comes into Ari’s life when he sees him at the swimming pool and offers to teach him. From that moment on, they are almost inseparable, until Dante’s dad gets a job in Chicago and they move away for a year.

Ari tries to live his old life, never telling other “friends” about Dante. I put friends in quotes because Dante was Ari’s only true friend. Ari didn’t mind being alone, but meeting Dante, he slowly learned to open up and explore the world with someone by his side. When Dante returns, things are a bit strained between the two. Dante has told Ari he likes to kiss boys, and while Ari knows Dante loves him, he’s not sure how to handle his own feelings, let alone the ones that Dante is trying his best to hide.

Besides their friendship, the two boys deal with their own trials of growing up and becoming men. Dante has his sexuality to come to terms with and learn to handle. Ari has an older brother in prison who nobody talks about and it leaves Ari feeling a bit broken. Ari has an anger problem and isn’t afraid to use violence to handle this, but thinking about his brother has him scared for his own future.

Overall, this was a wonderfully written book that seemed to perfectly capture the beauty and pain within growing up.

30 responses to “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

  1. This books sounds very interesting. I remember hearing a lot of great things about it but I still haven't tried it. It sounds like a rich stories with a different topic and it's quite intriguing. thanks for the review.

  2. I SO NEED TO READ THIS LIKE NOW. I meant to last year for #LGBTApril but couldn't join the readalong, but this year I WILL read it. I'm adding it to my Before 2016 list. Glad you enjoyed it. :D!

  3. It's so hard to explain this book because it just has to be experienced–that's how incredible it is. I'm so glad you finally read and loved it, Lauren! Wonderful review! 🙂

  4. I love stories that capture the universals, even when the characters and the setting have a specific time. Loved the cover. Beautiful ethereal script with the very realistic and utilitarian red truck.

  5. I absolutely loved this one too Lauren, a modern classic is the perfect way to describe it. One thing that really struck me, was how seamless it was. The writing was just beautiful and the characters so well developed. I loved Dante, such a beautiful free spirit. So glad you enjoyed this one Lauren, brilliant review <3

  6. Aww this sounds like my kind of feel-good read! I love how character driven it seems, and it sounds like it's just honest and has actual depth you know! Wonderful review, hun!

  7. DMS

    I don't remember ever hearing of this one. I am glad to hear that you liked it so much and that you think more people should read it. On my list now! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  8. "The book starts in 1987, but it's essentially timeless. This book isn't really about the place or the time period." <–THIS. This is the kind of book I love. Stories that take place in the recent past are so great – the world is just different enough from what it is now, during my teenage years, that I'm enthralled, but it's similar enough that the story doesn't have to be ABOUT the time period. It sounds like this book is all-around great – the characters' struggles seem so well done. You may have just convinced me to pick it up.

  9. I was relieved to see that you described this book as timeless. I'm all for reading classics, but sometimes I find them comical because the subject is so irrelevant today. Any title that deserves a home on your shelves clearly merits a chance from me.

    Carmel @ Rabid Reads

  10. Interesting! This is a book I could never have discovered on my own, and here I'm now, thinking I could probably really enjoy this. It' s on audio (I checked) it's got great reviews (narrator must be good) so it's definitely on list now.
    Thank you!

  11. This book has certainly been popping up on my feed a lot in the last few months, so I'm glad to see that this book ended up leaving a great impression with you too. It sounds like a gorgeous read!

  12. Amazing review! This book seems SO interesting, especially given the fact that it was assigned to you in English class. And Dante and Ari sound like fascinating, profound and complex characters as well! Great review, thanks for sharing! 🙂 x

  13. Ah yes, I'm well aware that everyone seems to love this book and I can't wait to read it too! Just waiting for the right opportunity… I know I'll love it just as much as you did 🙂

  14. This sounds like an amazing read, Lauren. I can definitely see WHY you would think on it awhile. I like a book that keeps me thinking about it long after I closed it. That's the mark of an excellent read. Tom Robbins' books do that to me mostly because I am never quite sure if what I originally thought is really what it's about. LOL

  15. This book has been on my kindle for quite a long time, and I hope I'll get a chance (and more especially the time!) to read it very soon.
    I've heard great things about it, too, and I look forward to getting to know Ari and Dante 🙂
    Great review!

  16. I think I'm going to have to start pinning all your YA reviews so I can remember to have Charlotte read them when she gets older! Or I could just buy all the books and start a collection 🙂

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