November 24, 2015
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
2012 Simon and Schuster
Finished on April 16, 2015
Rating: 4.75/5 (Outstanding!)
American Book Award Winner
Pen/Faulkner Award Winner
Stonewall Book Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature
Michael L. Printz Award Nominee
Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Children’s/Young Adult
Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis Nominee for Jugendbuch
Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award (ALAN/NCTE) Nominee
Pura Belpre Award for Narrative
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.
It’s been over six months since I read this Young Adult book and I still find myself thinking about the story and characters. Benjamin Alire Saenz’s lyrical prose pulled me in from the opening pages and I was sorry to see the book come to an end. I’ve read a lot of coming-of-age novels, but this is the first that I’ve read that explores homosexual love, and Saenz handles the topic with honesty and tenderness. Saenz not only addresses themes such as sexuality, love, and family, but also hate crimes and Mexican-American identity. Set in El Paso, the dialogue between Dante and Ari, as well as that of their parents, is spot on.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is a thought-provoking and beautiful book about friendship, family, loyalty and love. I think this book will appeal to fans of The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor & Park, and I plan to buy a copy to read again and share with my granddaughter. I loved this book. Highly recommend!
Go here to read more about this book on NPR.