| Title: Aristotle and Dante discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Reader
Published: February 21st 2012
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
“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. ” – Goodreads synopsis
Going into this book, I had no idea what it was about. All I knew is that it’s about two boys who develop a strong friendship after meeting, and really that’s all you need to know. It’s a beautiful coming-of-age story, that’s definitely more of a character driven than a plot driven one, since it does not really follow one main plot throughout the novel.
I enjoyed this book very, very much (and cried a lot while reading it), so I highly recommend it and encourage you to read it if you haven’t yet!
From here on I will be talking about things that happen in the book, which means there will be spoilers, so go read this novel and then come back to read the rest of my review!
As I said, I feel like the characters in this book are the most important and thought out thing, so let’s talk about them. From the moment we met Dante Quintana I fell in love with him and his open and lovely personality. I was sad when I read that he is kind of a loner because he’s such a sweetheart and deserves all the happiness in the world.
That’s not what I thought about Aristotle from the beginning. For the first 100 or 150 pages there were parts when I did like him, but other times I couldn’t really relate to or understand his struggles. I did not get why he wouldn’t talk a little more openly to Dante or maybe even his mom. Ari did soon grow dear to me though and I loved reading about his character development throughout the story.
The parents were a big part of the story, which I was very happy to see. Absent parents are a very popular thing in YA books, which annoys me, but even more than just being present, Ari and Dante’s parents were well written and had interesting stories themselves. Also, the love Mr. and Mrs. Quintana had for Ari and them always being so welcoming and accepting towards him made me extremely happy.
Plotwise, I liked the story as well. It did take me a while, not to get into the story, but to appreciate it. I was waiting for something big to happen, but realized that the beauty is in the smaller things that happen to the characters and the poetic writing and well thoughtout quotes.
One thing I really enjoyed was that the book took place over a whole year, so we could really see Aristotle grow in a realistic paste, not over 2 weeks like it is in some novels.
The car accident was something I did not see coming, but thought was very well done, with the reactions of everyone afterwards.
Also, the plot line with Ari’s brother was very interesting and I kept making theories about what might have happened. Same goes for Ari’s father serving in the Vietman War. These two plots definitely showed the different dynamics in the Mendoza family, but I’m happy that in the end the parents opened up about everything and they all grew closer.
Dante moving to Chicago was another thing that I was not expecting, but am happy about because the way it was handled by the author was very nice to read. Ari and Dante both needed a little break after seeing each other so often and used the time to grow and experience new things. I got frustated whenever Ari didn’t write Dante back, but I guess it also made sense.
The romance. Before reading this book, I had heard about it having LGBT characters and I guessed it was Ari (because of sentences along the lines of “I really liked Dante. Really, really liked.” towards the beginning of the book), but Dante coming out first suprised me a lot. The scene were he confessed his love broke my heart and I was so mad for most of the novel that Ari didn’t say he loves him back. When he finally came to terms with his feelings I was really happy, especially because his family was so supporting. (Also, Dante + Ari = new OTP. Thanks Mr. Alire Sáenz)
To conclude, as I said before, I loved this novel. Still love it, still think about it all the time, even though it’s been a few days since I finished it. Please, please, please do yourself a favor and read this book. Thanks.
Also, there will be a sequel and it will apparently be from Dante’s POV!! I. NEED. IT. NOW.
Look what the author had to say after I finished reading!
If that’s his job, then he sure is doing a good one.