Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz ★★★★★

Read 12/9/19 – 12/11/19

I loved this book. It was beautiful and heartwarming. Honestly, it has been so difficult to find a young adult book that really resonated with me. Sadie seemed like the perfect thing to strike a cord, but it failed to work for me. Luckily, the same can’t be said for Aristotle and Dante. Parts of the story definitely has a young adult tone to it, so for the first chunk of the book I wasn’t sure if it was quite 5 star material. As the book approached its conclusions, it did all the right things to tug at my heartstrings so much that I can’t feel anything but love for this book.

This is the story of two boys, Aristotle and Dante, who become best of friends in the early teens. What follows is a series of heartwarming, and at times saddening, events that work to build the bond between them and our connection to them as well. The novel is very fast paced. We make it through several years of their lives, and it allows for their relationship to evolve in a natural and understanding way.

I can’t really say much more than that without spoiling it. Nevertheless, I think it is fairly well known that this is an LGBTQ story, so I do want to comment on that a bit because it is really where this novel shines. These two boys are best of friends, but one of them is more fond of one than the other is of him. This creates a very realistic and heartbreaking dynamic. I really appreciated the dilemma that the characters are put it because these are very series issues we need to be prepared to deal with. Sometimes, feelings aren’t shared even if it seems they are. Other times, we don’t know what we think we feel. In all cases, its important that we treat people with respect and understand the pain and feelings they are having as well.

This a coming of age story. Its about friendship and accepting your friends for who they are but also about learning about yourself in the process. Mixed in with this is their Mexican heritage. That extends to issues of acceptance of homosexuality as well as gang violence and drug addiction. I was reminded a lot of Netflix’s On My Block. It is one of the few shows, targeted toward young adults, that I enjoy watching. It is similar its tone of heartwarming take aways and somewhat unrealistic positivity while still touching on the very real issues of what is like to be a latino kid.

I have to be honest that the reason this resonated so strongly with me is probably because I am bisexual. I don’t, or haven’t read a lot of gay characters. My experience is very different from the one in this story, but it doesn’t mean I don’t still relate and sympathize.

In any case, the novel worked really well for me. I don’t think it was a perfect 5 star, but it is a solid 4.5/5 stars.

2 thoughts on “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz ★★★★★

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