Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Originally Published: February 21st 2012
Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5 stars)
Synopsis: 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.
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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is the story of two boys who, after not having much luck in the friendship department, find each other and form the bond of a lifetime. Ari doesn’t really seem to connect with people. Dante has no trouble making acquaintances. Neither of them has really had a best friend though until they met each other.
Ari and Dante has incredible diversity. Not only does it feature Mexican-American characters from the LGBT+ community, but Benjamin Alire Saenz is from that community also. I don’t know about you guys, but every time I read something with gay characters they’re almost always white. I don’t even think I’ve read many books with characters with a Mexican heritage. Like I can’t even begin to fully understand how much this book must mean to Mexican-American’s struggling with their sexuality.
What this book reaffirmed for me was that sexuality is not concrete. It’s really a fluid thing. It’s not always a story where the character knows he’s gay from a very young age. Sometimes he has to discover that. Maybe that’s one of the secrets of the universe.
I think what I really loved the most about this book was the characters themselves. They really seemed to be polar opposites of each other and that’s what really made them work. Aristotle always felt like he could be “too Mexican”. He always thought he would conform to terrible stereotypes and end up like his older brother in jail. He really struggled with his brother’s absence and how that affected his whole family. Dante, on the other hand, felt like he wasn’t Mexican enough. He didn’t really struggle like Ari did. They really kind of joked about it.
And then they’re opposite again when it comes to their sexuality. Ari wasn’t really comfortable exploring his sexuality. He was kind of sheltered and I think maybe if he hadn’t met Dante he wouldn’t have even known he had options. He might have thought straight was the only thing he could be and really he would have been miserable. But Dante… He wasn’t afraid to try new things. He was able to figure himself out much quicker than Ari was able to.
Not only is this a great diverse read, but it’s also a wonderful coming of age story also. I wouldn’t recommend it to that one Tr*mp supporter you try to avoid but friends? Definitely. I was surprised to see that this book was published back in 2012 because I’d seen so much of it lately. I thought it was a new book and I was taking forever to read it but I really did take a long time to get on this train.
Have you read Aristotle and Dante? What did you think? Don’t forget to use my SocialBookCo link to learn more about cheap books!