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.


Debi said...

Just driving the nails in the coffin, aren't you? :P Seriously, you already had me convinced I that I need I just think I need it all the sooner.

DesLily said...

lol it sounds as if after you read a book you should just mail it off to Debi! lol

the problem is Debi: that he does love nearly all he reads!! Gosh I wish I could say that!!

Bookfool said...

A.) Great review! Sounds like a good one.

B.) Your garden is gorgeous! I haven't even cleared out last year's mess, much less planted anything (blush).

C.) Sorry I missed your post about your dad. Hope he's doing better. Did you see the Thich Nhat Hanh quote I posted, the other day (I'm on blogging holiday, but it was in my most recent post)? I'll write it here, just because I know you'll love it:

"Everything we do is an act of poetry or a painting if we do it with mindfulness. Growing lettuce is poetry. Walking to the supermarket can be a painting." That's from Peace Is Every Step, which is soooo good. It's a real upper. I liked it so much that I'm going to borrow another Thich Nhat Hanh book from a friend at the gym.

Sorry I'm so late to comment on that post from the 3rd. (((((HUGS))))) to you.

Vasilly said...

This book sounds amazing! I can't believe that I haven't heard of it before. Plus the cover is so beautiful.

Kailana said...

I hadn't even heard of this one. I will have to add it to the wish list!

Matt said...

I want to read this....just file it in the pile of "matt wants to read this, but he's so slow he probably won't get to it" XD sounds wonderful though!

Little Girl Lost said...

Hello Chris,
I had never heard of this book before, but your review makes me want to read it immediately! Your reviews are really heartfelt, and convey wonderfully your sense of excitement about the book.

I am a book fanatic,and I recently started my own book review blog. It’s only two posts old, but I’m going to update very regularly.

Please pay me a visit at

If you like the blog, please become a follower! I really need feedback and encouragement from experienced reviewers like you.

Thank you!

Chris said...

Debs, I'm so so so so so excited that you found this at the library!!! I just KNOW that you're going to love this one :D

Mama, HAHA!! Thanks for the laugh...I think you're totally right :p I should totally just mail all of my books off to Debi afterwards...but that means I would have to part with my beloved books :p I LOVE YOU!!

Nancy, It's a FANTASTIC BOOK!! I think you'd really like this one! Aw, you should totally plant some stuff :) I remember when I first started following your blog you'd post lots of flower and tree pictures...I miss those :) Thanks for the thoughts on my dad. He's having surgery tomorrow so it's going to be a long day. I'll let you know how he does!! Miss you and love you!! Oh, and that book sounds GORGEOUS!!! Definitely going onto the wishlist!!!!

Vasilly, I know!! I'm in love with the cover too. It really was a little gem of a book :)

Kelly, Definitely add it to your wishlist :) It's fantastic

Sweetie pie, I'll set it aside for you for when you're down here :)

Little Girl lost, Thanks for the sweet words!! And thanks for letting me know about your blog! Looking forward to getting to know you!

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Wow, just read this review. Sounds amazing. I hadn't heard of it before. I'm a big fan of lovely coming of age stories, and what a beautiful cover!!