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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Benjamin Alire Saenz

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7898611,647 (4.33)26
Member:stephiewonder
Title:Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Authors:Benjamin Alire Saenz
Info:Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (2012), Hardcover, 368 pages
Collections:Wishlist
Rating:*****
Tags:YA, LGBTQ, self-discovery, romance, chican@, southwest, bildungsroman

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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (2012)

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Showing 1-5 of 84 (next | show all)
The surprising thing about Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is the fact that not much actually happens, but at the same time, a lot happens.

This isn’t a book about some 16 year-old who can read minds. It isn’t about a girl who discovers a dystopian conspiracy. This book is simply about Aristotle and Dante, two 15 year olds who form an unlikely friendship and together set out to discover the secrets of the universe.

I will come out and say it before I say anything else: this book does not deal with absentee parents. On the contrary, there are two sets of parents here: Ari’s and Dante’s. They are happily married and very much in love. These are definitely the best-portrayed parents in a young adult book I’ve read of in a long time. They are supportive, caring, strict when they need to be, and compassionate. They are also human, so they make mistakes.

“We don’t always make the right decisions, Ari. We do the best we can.”

I also love the complexity of the main characters. Ari is an angry teen, while Dante is easy spirited. Ari talks with his fists while Dante talks about everything. The point is they were so complex. I saw myself in both of them. I could relate so well to Ari, but then Dante would say something and I’d relate so much to him, too. They are very real teens.

I loved how this broke with so many stereotypes and managed to captivate you just by listening to Ari & Dante’s story.

This is a very wonderfully written story! It isn’t plagued with flowery metaphors and purple prose, however the writing is so beautiful! It is so charming and simple and sweet. I loved the dialogue and the way everything was so cleverly written.

I have already read this book not once, not twice, but three times in the past weeks. I love it that much.

Simply put: this is a book that everyone should read. ( )
  mariannelee_0902 | Jun 19, 2015 |
This novel was simply beautiful. It's not really story-driven at all and so I think might put off some readers but it presents an excellent character study of a teenage boy. The story is structured in short chapters, presenting Ari's stream of consciousness over the space of a year. Although he has not lead an especially difficult life, it underscores how the many troubles he has faced have built up over the years and how his friendship with one incredibly special boy helps him to face his issues head on.

The novel tackles some very difficult subjects - growing up, society's expectations, family members being imprisoned and the lasting effects of war - and does so in a sensitive and intelligent way. It's witty, uplifting and occasionally heart-breaking. While the back of the book recommends it to children aged 12 and up, I would say that parents should perhaps have a read of this one before giving it to a younger teen as it does contain drug use, strong language and (non-graphic) discussions of sex and masturbation.

The characterisation in this story is just incredible, with every character being shown as being multi-layered (although Ari does not always realise this straight away). This is what I loved most about the story. No one is presented as being a character trope. Everyone feels real. They grow. They learn. They react differently in different circumstances. For me, this was handled perfectly and really caused me to care about everyone.

For me, this was about as close to perfect as a character study can get. I would certainly recommend it to anyone. ( )
  ArkhamReviews | Jun 14, 2015 |
I continue to say that books for children and young adults have never been better. Sáenz’s Prince Honor book deals with identity and family relationships with authentic voice. How many kids deal with the feeling of being a loner, of not fitting into the perceived notion of teenagers? Add to that an authentic Latino voice, sexual identification he’s created a story that is compelling. The astute reader will be able to use the foreshadowing in the writing to determine the outcome before the two protagonists do. Written in first person, Ari (short for Aristotle) struggles with the idea he has a brother in prison and no one will talk about it. When he meets Dante, another misfit, they immediately hit it off. But this isn’t a story just about the boys; it is a story of the boys and their families. You’ll come away from reading the book with a strong realization of how important the families were in helping the boys as the boys struggled with being in a world where they really didn’t fit. ( )
  brangwinn | May 25, 2015 |
This is a wonderful book on growing up and finding yourself. It was a short book but you would definitely fall in love with Ari and Dante. Everybody should read this book. ( )
  krizia_lazaro | May 11, 2015 |
"But love was always something heavy for me. Something I had to carry." ( )
  mlake | Apr 28, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 84 (next | show all)
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One summer night I fell asleep, hoping the world would be different when I woke. In the morning, when I opened my eyes, the world was the same.
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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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Fifteen-year-old Ari Mendoza is an angry loner with a brother in prison, but when he meets Dante and they become friends, Ari starts to ask questions about himself, his parents, and his family that he has never asked before.

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