Saturday, 10 September 2016

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe // Lyrical and Genuine

Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author: Benjamin Alire Saenz
Genre: contemporary
Rating: 5 stars
Add to Goodreads
This is my second time reading Aristotle and Dante, but it felt like I was reading it for the first time all over again.

The story is about two boys coming to terms with growing up, learning about their families and their heritage, and understanding that people can show love in different ways.

The book is narrated by Ari, a boy with the weight of the world on his shoulders. He finds the love from those around him difficult to carry, and believes that makes him a hard person - unworthy of anyone's affection. He tries to make out like he doesn't care, and he has everyone fooled except his parents and Dante.

If Ari is the moon, Dante is the sun. He sees so much good in the world and in people, including Ari. His huge capacity for love is something he cannot hide. And as the boys grow up together, one thing he cannot hide are his growing feelings for Ari.

I have so much love in my heart for these two characters, becuase their thoughts and experiences are just so real. Although it initially seems that way, their personalities are not as contradictory as they appear and it acts as a reminder that there's a lot more to people than what is openly obvious.

Saenz addresses that not all people are the same, and some find expressing emotion far more diffuclt than others. Between Ari and Dante and their parents, they all express how they feel incredibly differently, but never was any time of expression treated as inferior to another.

I loved that this book treats people as what they are, and I think a part of that was due to the lyrical prose. It's short and concise and read almost like a train of thought, which made it so much more genuine. The writing flows just like thoughts do - weaving like strands that never perfectly interlock. I admit that it makes the beginning of the book difficult to get into, but once I got past that I found that it was the unique writing style that made the book all the more relatable.

Although not written in the typical style, I still fell in love with this book. It's a tribute to anyone who has ever felt like an outsider and a reminder that the mind is a weird, weird place filled with thoughts about the universe that nobody has the answers to.
Diversity note: Mexican-American gay (and possibly pan/bisexual since no lables are used) protagonists


  1. I really need to re-read this book, because it is so lovely.

    This review is so gorgeous, Helia, and I think you've captured what this book is all about so beautifully and perfectly.

    Ari and Dante is one of those few books that really does deserve all the love and attention that it receives. It's such a lovely story, and the love between the two boys is such a special thing.

    Ah, you've made me want to go and re-read it right now! XD

    1. Thank you so much, Chiara. I wasn't sure how I would go about writing this review to start with but I'm really glad you think I was able to convey the book so well. And I'm glad I made you want to reread it! You're absolutely right about how special this book is and I'm glad the bookish community gives it a lot of love :)