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

by Benjamin Alire Saenz

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5896016,710 (4.36)19
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

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Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
Rating: 3,5/5
What it’s about: Two Mexican-American boys that meet, become best friends, get separated and always find back to each other. You can’t really describe it.

Writing 1/5:

The writing is the only thing that keeps me from recommending this book. It took more than 150 pages for me to get used to the way Sáenz writes. I also have to say that I don’t believe this novel would ever have gotten published, had the author been a first-time novelist. Never. He writes very, very short sentences that make you feel like you’re reading a children’s book. Interestingly enough, Sáenz seems to be using this writing style as a stylistic device; the older Aristotle gets, the less frequently he writes like that. Another thing that massively annoyed me is that the novel basically is 90% dialogue. Without the beautiful story behind it all, it would have just annoyed me and made me stop reading.

Plot 4/5: The chapters are very unorganized and there is not really a clear plot line, it is rather a diary or maybe a story of Ari’s and Dante’s lives, told over the course of two years. However, I never lost the desire to find out what happens next, there a certain sense of suspense to it all, it feels like the whole novel leads up to something when you’re reading it.

Characters 4/5:

I can’t recall the last time I cared so much for a protagonist. Ari is a typical, lost 15-year old who doesn’t really know what he wants, but knows exactly what he doesn’t want. Well, I’m having a hard time thinking that any 15-year-old speaks or thinks in the way that Sáenz portrays him. It feels like you’re reading about a 12-year-old, especially in the beginning. And Dante, despite being basically a main character, remains extremely absent, not only physically in the story, but rather as a person. All he does, is cry and get upset and hurt. I don’t really know as a reader what he is like and what made Ari fall in love with him. That’s not a good sign at all, given that the novel is more than 300 pages long.

The reason that I’m giving 4/5 is rather because I feel like Sáenz knows exactly how to write adult characters. I loved both their parents, i connected to them emotionally, no matter how many lines they had. I cared about the backstory of Ari’s parents and I wouldn’t have minded going bowling with Dante’s parents. They’re beautiful characters but I’m getting the impression that YA is not so much Sáenz’s department. Especially because every single one of the teen characters remained so unimportant and could’ve just been left out.

Overall: Do I recommend?

I’m going to go with maybe. This isn’t a typical novel. This isn’t even a typical love story. The writing is weird, the characters are annoying and the way it was edited can drive you nuts. Still, I insist to call this thing a work of a art, because I didn’t just finish it. I feel like this novel is still with me and that’s really all an author can ask for, isn’t it? I’d recommend this novel for people who are patient and open-minded and like to dream, but I warn you, once you get into it, you won’t be able to let go.

Originally published on my blog: www.bookavid.tumblr.com ( )
  bookavid | Aug 26, 2014 |
RGG: Sweet, gentle story about friendship, teenage angst and self-discovery, and figuring out one's sexuality and one's friendships within that context. Reading Level: YA.
  rgruberexcel | Aug 5, 2014 |
RGG: Sweet, gentle story about friendship, teenage angst and self-discovery, and figuring out one's sexuality and one's friendships within that context. Reading Level: YA.
  rgruberexcel | Aug 5, 2014 |
Ari and Dante are both powerful characters, and Saenz has approached a difficult topic through a novel that reminds readers of the importance of compassion. Dante's journey to find himself demonstrates character growth; as the narrator, he presents his struggles and successes. I think teen readers, regardless of their situations, can identify with him. Very strong parental characters - refreshing to see a great support system for these teenage characters! ( )
  jcarroll12 | Jul 26, 2014 |
Aristotle is a loner in search of his identity. He meets Dante, also a loner, who offers to teach him how to swim. Over time, the two boys develop a very special friendship that leads them to discover secrets about themselves and about life.
This is a great book to teach children about acceptance, love, friendship, but I am not certain that it could be used in an elementary setting. ( )
  lbblackwell | Jul 26, 2014 |
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Book description
A lyrical novel about family and friendship from critically acclaimed author Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

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. [Simon&Schuster]
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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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