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

Beautiful. Just splendid. Period.

Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author: Benjamin Alire Saenz
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publish Date: Feb 21, 2012

Goodreads: 4.3/5
Barnes and Noble: 4.9/5


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.



I’m a little lost for words on this one – but in a good way!

The plot is not exhaustively complicated and the characters are very simple and realistic. I can imagine a friend, a family member or even myself in this story.

Aristotle, or Ari, comes from a true Mexican family. He’s got a very caring mother, a complex father that just came back from the war in Vietnam, two sisters beyond his age group and a brother in jail. Dante is a very curious boy with very understanding parents. My only opinion on the characters was that at some points in the book, they started to sound like each other and I got lost in the conversation. Though I think that is the good thing because you can feel the chemistry between the two main characters.

What I love most about the book is solely how it is written.

I ended up highlighting a lot of lines in each chapter!  Saenz has a very poetic way of delivering the emotions onto the scene. He doesn’t write in very complicated words and the simplicity just got me so hooked into it.

The pacing and fluidity is profound.

Oddly, I think every chapter is a short story, all compounded and chronologically arranged into one book. That is totally interesting to read as you won’t get bored in any one chapter. And once you do start waning interest, you find yourself at the end of the chapter and it closes in a good mark, sparking your interest again to read the next one.

Saenz perfectly addresses the emotions and complexities of homosexuality, gender roles, hate crime and racial stereotypes. He dealt with it in a warm and understanding manner, a way where even an elementary child could emotionally empathize with the characters.

This book just reminds me of myself before high school. I had so many questions about the world and society. It’s funny how Saenz was able to answer most of my questions about heartache and acceptance in a truly inspiring manner.

The only thing I didn’t like though was the ending. Not a big factor, though. With LGBT themes, I prefer a darker and sadder ending. But that’s just me.


OVERALL: 4 stars

Stars 4.0

This book is truly heart-warming story for the confused and the inquisitive. No sex nor explicit violence. Just pure and innocent inner deliberations of the world and society.

A must-read.



Hope you guys found my review entertaining and informative.

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