Monday, March 5, 2012
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Wow. This book took my heart from page one and just ran with it until the very end. I didn't know much about it going into it. I had preordered it awhile ago after hearing about it and then forgot about it. So when it arrived, I decided to go into it blind without reading the jacket flap. And it was just SUCH a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful coming of age novel.
It's about two Mexican-American boys, aptly named Aristotle and Dante, who make a connection after discovering they are both named after classical writers/philosophers. They meet at the pool where Dante offers to teach Ari how to swim and from there an absolutely beautiful friendship is formed where the boys discover life together and spend every moment they can with each other.
One day while Dante is going after a bird who's broken it's wing in the street, a car comes speeding down the street and Ari tackles him to save him but takes a hit from the car landing himself in the hospital. Shortly after that, Dante and his family move to Chicago for a job for his father for a few months and the two keep in contact via letters.
There's more to the story than just the two boys' relationship though. Each boy deals with their own issues. Ari has never been kissed and doesn't even know if he wants to be. He's very close to his family except for his brother who is off the table for discussion. All he knows about him is that he is in jail. Dante on the other hand comes from two extremely loving and open parents, but he's trying to discover himself. And part of that struggle is his own sexuality.
There's SO much to this book that I can't fit and really don't want to spoil in this review. But just let me tell you that I think it captures the adolescent experience really well. It's a story of first kisses, of lonely nights, first cars, heart break, questions questions and more questions, lots of tears, sexual awakening and questioning, and yet more questions about life. You really take the journey with these two amazing boys and it was such a pleasure to go on that ride.