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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of…

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

by Benjamin Alire Saenz

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8589010,412 (4.33)28
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
Tags:texas, homosexuality, lgbtq, mexicans, mexican americans, violence, relationships, identity, family, meditative, thoughtful, 1980s, love, realistic, gr9, gr10, gr11, gr12

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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 89 (next | show all)
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz won the 2013 Stonewall Book Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature. Ari and Dante are a pair of Mexican American teens who save for their hyphenated heritage couldn't be any more different if they tried. Yet a set of circumstances thrust them together and they become friends over the summer.

Ari is an angry teen with a brother in prison. He's over protected because of his brother's mistakes and he screams at the world for this sense of injustice. Dante's an only child of academics; his life is fairly liberal and very open. There's a lot of touching in Dante's family.

The first half of the book is Ari being completely befuddled by Dante's happy go luck approach to life. Dante never wears shoes. He loves to draw. He's super close to his family. It's just all so perfect that it walks a fine line between saccharine and creepy.

And then book takes a right turn and for a variety of reasons the two are separated.

With physical and emotional pain to work through, Ari takes up alcohol. Dante, perhaps out of loneliness, and certainly out of boredom (because of course, all super smart kids get bored), takes up drugs.

And somewhere in all that mess, the boys realize they have feelings for each other.

The drugs and alcohol is a hot heaping pile of plot convenience, than actual character development. Yes, Ari's brother screwed up and yes, he's angry. But that shouldn't automatically damn Ari to alcoholism. Likewise, yes, Dante's family is very liberal and somewhat laissez faire with their parenting, but again, I don't see Dante suddenly turning to drugs. He's so creatively driven that he doesn't need drugs.

It's not that there shouldn't be books about underage drinking and drug use but here it felt like a means for creating tension and nothing else. It didn't feel organic. It didn't seem to fit the characters. It felt like a stalling tactic to keep the boys apart until closer to the end. ( )
  pussreboots | Oct 5, 2015 |
This is a lovely teen coming of age novel about friendship and family. A careful, slower paced book that thoughtfully deals with teenage sexuality. ( )
  St.CroixSue | Sep 29, 2015 |
A good coming of age story, with a focus on characters. Ari and Dante are well done, but other characters are just props. Setting and culture also have little to do with the story. ( )
  wvlibrarydude | Sep 6, 2015 |
So I must admit that I am not a fan of young adult novels. I rarely read them and when I do I rarely like them. So that being said I went into this read with very low expectations. This book was recommended to me by a friend.
I loved it! I loved this book! It was beautiful and wonderful. I felt so drawn to the character Aristotle, and found myself reflecting on a time when I was young and confused and scared and angry. This author captures so much in his words that are written sometimes so simply and sometimes so poetically.
What a pleasant delight this book ended up being! Highly recommended! ( )
  Kiddboyblue | Jul 22, 2015 |
This review, along with others can be seen at Cristina's Book Reviews.

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 | Jul 1, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 89 (next | show all)
added by gsc55 | editBoys in our Books, Susan (Nov 12, 2014)
added by gsc55 | editMM Good Book Reviews, Tams (Oct 2, 2014)

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Book description
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.

(summary from another edition)

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