Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

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 fr...

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Title:Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author:Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Rating:
ISBN:1442408928
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:359 pages

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe Reviews

  • Thomas
    Jan 03, 2013

    1. Obtain a copy of

    .

    2. Read the book.

    3. Fall in love. Fall in love with the writing, the characters, everything. Read past midnight, read in school, read everywhere and all the time. Slam the book shut and whisper-scream oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh. At the end of the book, allow a single tear to run down your right cheek and say a silent prayer of thanks for the fact that you are able to read at all.

    Perh

    1. Obtain a copy of

    .

    2. Read the book.

    3. Fall in love. Fall in love with the writing, the characters, everything. Read past midnight, read in school, read everywhere and all the time. Slam the book shut and whisper-scream oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh. At the end of the book, allow a single tear to run down your right cheek and say a silent prayer of thanks for the fact that you are able to read at all.

    Perhaps I’m making this book seem more dramatic than it actually is. It’s not dramatic at all, in the typical sense. There are no overtly sentimental Nicholas Sparks plot twists, no super sexy erotica Fifty Shades of Grey style, not even an ardent declaration of love via Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. This book is about two Mexican-American teens trying to find their way in the world, but before they do that, they find each other – Aristotle and Dante, the former a self-doubting silent guy, the latter an expressive, fair skinned swimmer. We experience the story from Ari’s perspective, from the first time he met Dante at his local swimming pool.

    Throughout the book, Aristotle and Dante are exposed and layered, continually growing more complex but also becoming more bare. Their coming of age story is shown beautifully. What seems like a simple story about friendship is a simple story about friendship, but there are profound themes woven in and the quality of the characterization is simply breathtaking. Dante, a lover of poetry and a passionate crier, reminded me of myself so much it hurt, while every ounce of Aristotle’s emotions – his confusion, his longing, his hate – resonated with me.

    Benjamin Alire Saenz has poetic prose. There aren’t many compound sentences or large SAT words in this book, but every word impacted me. Sometimes the shortest sentence flooded me with feeling. Every description of Dante’s laugh, every time the boys would call each other weird, every moment they spent together – it felt like I was there, experiencing their friendship and their bond.

    Have you ever heard that saying, if there’s a book you want to read but it’s not published, write it yourself? I won’t stop writing, but Saenz has accomplished that for me here. Saenz dedicates this book “to all the boys who’ve had to learn to play by different rules.” As a homosexual Asian-American living in Virginia, I’ve had to learn to play by the rules of my parents, my society, and most importantly, myself. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe will speak to Mexican-Americans, homosexuals, tom-girls, book nerds, loners, etc. Essentially, it will appeal to everyone who’s ever felt different, who’s ever felt like they weren’t sure of who they were. Highly recommended for all.

  • Emily May
    Oct 04, 2013

    Just waiting for the right moment for us to come together and love one another. And this book is fine, I guess. It's okay. But I really don't see the magic that prompted so many five star ratings and literary awards.

    It's weird because I was sure we were meant for each other. A Printz Honor book featuring a gay romance between two quirky characters - one of whom is a rough guy who gets into fights and has a complicated relationship with his father; the other being a

    Just waiting for the right moment for us to come together and love one another. And this book is fine, I guess. It's okay. But I really don't see the magic that prompted so many five star ratings and literary awards.

    It's weird because I was sure we were meant for each other. A Printz Honor book featuring a gay romance between two quirky characters - one of whom is a rough guy who gets into fights and has a complicated relationship with his father; the other being a sweet and sensitive boy who loves his poetry. Throw in some philosophical musings and a generous helping of poetic teen angst and you should be serving up a new favourite of mine, right?

    Apparently not.

    I love deep, complex and emotional contemporary YA that reminds me why I still read books aimed at teens. But, you know, I just didn't find this book as deep and meaningful as it was obviously trying to be. There were some intriguing passages thrown in that were clearly meant to tickle our inner emos, like:

    And:

    But it all felt like a good old example of trying too hard. The characters of Aristotle and Dante are two very different individuals who form an instant connection and go on to become close friends, but they never seemed like anything but caricatures of angsty teens with the pretentious poetry reading and frequent philosophical phrases that made me cringe.

    The dialogue was particularly unrealistic. There are some writers who can pull off floaty poetic speech between their characters, and then there are those who fail to sound more than fake, overdone and scripted. In my opinion, this book was in the latter category. However, I feel this way about John Green and everyone seems to love him too, so it's hardly surprising that I once again find myself in the minority.

    Not only does the constant waxing poetic feel a bit off, but the rest of the time we're treated to a choppy, fragmented narrative that gave me flashbacks to

    . For example:

    I think I get what this book was trying to do and I also get what many people probably thought it was doing... but I can point you towards authors who do a similar kind of thing and make it seem less cheesy and far more real and meaningful: A.S.King, Melina Marchetta, Matthew Quick and Sara Zarr, to name but a few. When compared to the works of those authors, these characters and this writing just pale in comparison. In my opinion, anyway.

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  • Ariel
    Oct 22, 2013

    This book was so so beautiful.

    In actuality, it doesn't have a "plot". Not a main story or event that the characters center around. It's about a boy. It's a story about a boy who is sad and angry and can't figure out why. It's about him trying to love himself and others. It's about the teenage condition and mentality.

    Let's talk about why I loved it. Mainly, I loved the mood and tone. It made me feel mellow and warm. I liked that it was slow paced, that it felt like real life with small but import

    This book was so so beautiful.

    In actuality, it doesn't have a "plot". Not a main story or event that the characters center around. It's about a boy. It's a story about a boy who is sad and angry and can't figure out why. It's about him trying to love himself and others. It's about the teenage condition and mentality.

    Let's talk about why I loved it. Mainly, I loved the mood and tone. It made me feel mellow and warm. I liked that it was slow paced, that it felt like real life with small but important events happening. I actually really liked Aristotle, the main character, even though he's kind of a jerk. But the thing is he doesn't want to be a jerk. I loved the relationships, especially with his best friend, Dante. It was real friendship, not false or easy. I loved the emphasis on family. And the ending was beautiful. So beautiful. I really related to the main character, his struggles of culture and feeling lonely and regretting growing up. And when I didn't relate to him I still empathized. I just wanted to hug Aristotle.

    I didn't realize how much I loved this book until it ended. I flew through it so quickly that I didn't realize how beautiful it was, how happy it made me feel. This is absolutely a new favourite. I can't wait to reread it.

  • karen
    Dec 13, 2013

    i really thought this was going to be a slam-dunk of a book. all those prestigious awards and recognitions, a gay coming-of-age story that got the coveted dana stamp of approval, that cover….

    and it is not a bad book, not by a long shot; i definitely enjoyed reading it. it just doesn't transcend its YA status like so many YA books do. this is an excellent book for its audience, but for me, it doesn't have that crossover appeal that so many recent YA titles have had.

    it gets points for featuring a

    i really thought this was going to be a slam-dunk of a book. all those prestigious awards and recognitions, a gay coming-of-age story that got the coveted dana stamp of approval, that cover….

    and it is not a bad book, not by a long shot; i definitely enjoyed reading it. it just doesn't transcend its YA status like so many YA books do. this is an excellent book for its audience, but for me, it doesn't have that crossover appeal that so many recent YA titles have had.

    it gets points for featuring an untraditional LGBT protagonist; a young mexican-american boy with few social attachments, dealing with his distant war-haunted father, his much older, clucking sisters, the (figurative) ghost of his brother, about whom no one has spoken since he was incarcerated, and his own inability to make emotional connections, or even

    much of anything except a simmering, inarticulate rage. his mother is very loving and supportive, but ari lacks a true male role model figure, since his father is shuttered in a cage of his memories of vietnam and drifts through ari's life without being any kind of real presence. ari has always felt apart, particularly from the world of boys and their interests.

    his is not a case of being a bookish, indoor kid who doesn't relate to the rough and tumble world of "normal" boys; he likes to fight and drink and he wants a truck and a dog - he has just never felt comfortable in the company of boys.

    until he meets dante.

    dante is definitely one of the indoor boys. he is sensitive, he reads poetry and draws, he is emotional and frequently cries, and asks probing and highly personal questions with his deeply inquisitive mind. he is also mexican-american, but has only a tenuous relationship to his cultural heritage, and this discomfort affects him deeply, even though he is very self-assured in other aspects of his character.

    for some reason, the two boys find something in each other that just clicks, and they become inseparable over the course of a summer. the novel traces their relationship and their various insecurities and their growing attachment to each other from ari's perspective, as he struggles with his identity and his inability to recognize what it is that he wants out of life.

    and that is gripe number one.

    my second gripe is the writing style, particularly the dialogue. there are people who have a knack for dialogue and people who do not, and people who have a facility for writing

    stylized dialog that doesn't "ring true" but is still effective, like david mamet. but here, the dialogue didn't feel natural and these characters never came alive for me. there was a lot of repetition in their speech, and a lot of those snappy, witty moments you find in YA contemporary fiction, but it never felt relaxed. to use this portion of a david foster wallace interview i just read:

    and i wasn't bored - i am not saying that, but i think the same rule applies to things that are so overly manipulated that they don't feel the way people really speak or interact. i mean, it's a

    - we all know it is a construct, but sometimes even a construct can feel… effortless.

    for example, i just don't buy this kind of emo-poetic musing coming from a kid who pushes down all his emotions and is battling all his violent urges:

    but enough of my griping - there are some really touching moments in here, although for me, the most resonant ones came from ari's relationship with his parents rather than his relationship with dante.

    good stuff, just not the lingering heartbreaking tenderness i was anticipating.

  • Kassidy
    Mar 13, 2014

    Absolutely beautiful.

  • Whitney Atkinson
    Apr 16, 2014

    I'M NOT CRYING YOU'RE CRYING

  • Hailey (HaileyInBookland)
    Apr 30, 2014

    Update Feb 2017

    Lowering my rating to 3 stars since I think 4.5 was super duper generous

    4.5*

    I just didn't really love it as much as I had thought I would. Another case of a book being too hyped up for it to possibly live up to my expectations unfortunately.

    That being said I did still really enjoy it and thing it was a beautiful story, pretty similar to some other books I've read though.

  • Lola  Reviewer
    Aug 17, 2014

    Oh gosh, my feelings are all over the place.

    It started in a very captivating way. I liked the narrator. Aristotle-nicknamed Ari-is a calm fifteen-year-old boy who prefers being alone...He doesn’t feel comfortable being around people his age but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a recluse. Everyone things he’s sad and lonely but, really, he doesn’t mind it.

    And then he meets Dante.

    Dante who made him see the world differently. Gosh, how much I loved that character. Everything about him made me th

    Oh gosh, my feelings are all over the place.

    It started in a very captivating way. I liked the narrator. Aristotle-nicknamed Ari-is a calm fifteen-year-old boy who prefers being alone...He doesn’t feel comfortable being around people his age but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a recluse. Everyone things he’s sad and lonely but, really, he doesn’t mind it.

    And then he meets Dante.

    Dante who made him see the world differently. Gosh, how much I loved that character. Everything about him made me think of an angel, a sweet sweet angel. I wish the world was filled with more people like Dante because this world would have been a much lovelier place.

    This is really a coming of age YA novel. Even though it’s shelved as LGBT (which IS true and shelved it myself as it too), there is a good part of this story where it doesn’t feel that way. It’s mostly about friendship, family, trust, loyalty and being honest to ourselves and who we truly are. Then, comes the LGBT part and romance as well. I have to say that I throughout the story craved to see some romantic affection between Ari and Dante. There aren’t many scenes at all that show some, because Ari isn’t gay…

    Or is he?

    I kept wondering while reading and felt like I knew, right inside me, the answer, except that I never could have been one hundred percent sure. Gladly, we do get an answer. Actually, every answer I could have had regarding events, characters and scenes were answered and that is a big plus to the book.

    The writing, at first, didn’t quite work for me to be honest. It’s a very simple style. The kind I could write myself without any problem. EXCEPT, we could actually feel as if it were really Ari’s writing and that is an exceptional thing and very a witty way of writing a story when I think of it. I do admit that sometimes I really wished we had Dante’s POV, just to know how he thinks and what’s in his mind. Wait, I do know what-or who should I say-he’s always thinking of. I just think at least one scene would have been so spectacular to have narrated by him.

    It’s weird because Ari has sisters (and a brother) but we never actually really got to meet them or get to know those sisters. I don’t even remember his sisters’ names, if the narrator even told us their names in the first place. Shame because I really wanted to get to know them.

    I’m so glad this story includes an animal, being the animal lover that I am. I feel like they usually bring a nice atmosphere inside a story and this one-a dog-sure did.

    Also, you need to know that this is a sad story. I mean, sure, there are many cute and happy moments, but drama usually follows. Plus, with that kind of atmosphere, how could I have held back my tears?

    Do I recommend this book? Like air...

  • Kai
    Jun 24, 2015

    I've heard so many good things about this novel and seen it all over tumblr. I wanted to read this so badly, which is why I finally, finally got my hands on a copy and started reading rightaway. I also finished reading it rightaway.

    Well first of all, I love the way I can identify with Ari and Dante, but especially with Ari. Sometimes his stubbornness got on my nerves and I wanted to shake him and tell

    I've heard so many good things about this novel and seen it all over tumblr. I wanted to read this so badly, which is why I finally, finally got my hands on a copy and started reading rightaway. I also finished reading it rightaway.

    Well first of all, I love the way I can identify with Ari and Dante, but especially with Ari. Sometimes his stubbornness got on my nerves and I wanted to shake him and tell him that he should just go and love Dante. But on the other hand everything just felt so real.

    Which leads me to my second point about how I kept on reading and nodding my head, smiling about how true some statements and feelings pictured in the novel felt. The thing is, Sáenz does not try to be philosophical and poetic. He doesn't have to.

    Third, you can see how Ari grows. In the beginning he is a 15 year old boy, he talks like a 15 year old boy, he thinks like one. But as he grows older he learns and experiences things, especially through Dante, he changes. I just want to state that this novel is a perfect example of character development.

    What bothered me (just a little), is the ending. Yes, it's happy and lovely and that's what I wished for but I had the feeling that everything went too fast. Particularly the revelations about the past.

    And also I am kind of angry. Why, whywhywhy couldn't we read more about their happy ever after? I mean, I've been waiting for this the whole time and now I don't even get two whole pages of Ari&Dante as a couple! Not fair. I want - need - a sequel!

    I'm still very much in love with this book. There may have been something in my eyes, they got a little teary.

    We're getting a sequel. Someone must have heard my prayers.

  • Riley
    Dec 18, 2016

    This book is perfection