Aristotle And Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Benjamin Alire Saenz
Aug 8, 2017

Aristotle is angry. And wondering. And confused. Dante is laid back. And smart. And confused. These two boys, opposites, with nothing in common, begin to spend more time together, becoming fast friends. The friendship that they discover is the kind that has the power to morph and change lives - and lasts a lifetime. And Aristotle becomes sad - then happy. And realizes things. And Dante gets angry - then hurt. And realizes things. This is a remarkable coming-of-age novel about two Mexican-American boys as they battle through the uncertain, calamitous front of life.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe was the antidote to every single terrible book I've suffered through so far. I was absolutely blown away by this book. For so many reasons.

First of all, the style. The way Aristotle is written is just truly amazing. I laughed, I cried, I lived this story along with him and will go back and live it again more times than I should probably admit. It's a compelling, intricate narration that pulls the reader along with him.

Next is, of course, the obvious. All of this year - and last - I've fallen victim to more than a few atrocious accounts of what is commonly known as 'queerbaiting'. As an LGBT person, it's absolutely devastating to read or watch something that you know could be a source of amazing representation- and then have that callously ignored by authors and writers. This book was the only thing that pulled me out of my post-Sherlock ditch back into the world of amazing, well-written queer characters. Its wonderfully nuanced descriptions of Dante's exploration of his sexuality is exceptional. Acknowledging homophobia, but not instilling it as the center-most point of the plot, only made it better.

I'm not a fan of YA romantic subplots, but this one was so well orchestrated that it won me over. It was subtle, it was beautiful, and it was accurate. If I could give this more stars, I would.

It's an incredible coming-of-age story too. Not to be boring, but this book took the boys through so many life lessons and important books, and it's so meaningful and IMPORTANT for some of those reasons, too.

At this point, I'm running out of adjectives and superlatives to praise this book. So I'll wrap it up.

This is one of the best coming-of-age books I've had the joy of reading in YEARS. I loved every page of this. (Plus, bonus points for making me cry at a book for the first time in a year.)

Fans of books by Rainbow Rowell, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Gabi, a Girl In Pieces, or similar books would probably enjoy this book. (my opinion is that everyone should read it, but - those are the people who might love it as much as I did)


Written by
Ellie from Leawood Pioneer Library YAAC

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