Thursday, June 20, 2013

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Audio Book Cover
Saenz, Benjamin Alire. 2012. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. New York: Simon & Schuster.  ISBN 978-1-4424-0892-0
It is the summer of 1987 and Aristotle is an angry young man about to begin a journey of discovery which will take him through trials and tribulations and possibly lead him to the secrets of the universe and it will all begin with Dante and swimming lessons.  Ari and Dante are two Mexican-American young men who do not seem to fit in with others and yet forge a bond of friendship that changes who they think they are and allows them to discovers truths about themselves and the world around them.  An honest look at coming of age in a time of intolerance and confusion, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe offers a glimpse into the reality of two different young men whose bond will be tested through books, laughter, love, shame, and acceptance. 
 Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is an exceptionally well written, honest look at the struggle with who we are and who we want to be and what we will allow ourselves to become.  Saenz does a masterful job at developing the personalities of not only Aristotle and Dante, but also those of their parents allowing for a depth of character development and understanding of interpersonal relationships which is not often seen in young adult literature.  The exploration of anger, confusion, love, and acceptance which takes place between the covers of the novel provides the reader with an emotional roller coaster ride of sensations. 
Aristotle or Ari as he insists on being called is an angry young man who does not truly understand why he is angry and sad all the time.  He has few friends and little desire to make any.  What he does have are two loving, if slightly damaged parents who must silently fight their own demons.  What Ari gains is Dante.
Dante is a softhearted young man who boldly offers to teach Ari to swim on the first day of summer at the local pool.  His demeanor and relationship with his parents are not what Ari is used to encountering.  Theirs is a family who hugs and kisses and expresses emotion freely.  Ari is pulled into their life and loved with abandon by all.
The friendship of Aristotle and Dante is a progression from loneliness to honest and unprecedented love amidst confusion and shame from themselves and a world which can be unaccepting and cruel.  Through the love and acceptance of their families and the acceptance of who they truly are inside, Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of themselves and where they fit within the universe.

  • ALA Notable Children's Books
  • Bank Street Best Books of the Year
  • Kirkus Best Young Adult Book
  • Lambda Literary Award Finalist
  • Pura Belpre Award
  • School Library Journal Best Books of the Year
  • Texas Tayshas High School Reading List
  • Stonewall Book Award
  • Michael Printz Honor Book

  • Click the link below to view my book trailer for this title.

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