REVIEW: “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Posted in Blatant Romance, Five Stars, Review by - May 13, 2015
REVIEW: “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Release Date: February 21, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Source: Library Audiobook
Rating:  L-2 | S-1 | V-2

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“Nice title.  What’s it about?”

Aristotle and Dante is told from the perspective of 15-year-old Aristotle “Ari” Mendoza, a Mexican-American boy living in El Paso, Texas, who never feels quite like he fits in.   He doesn’t have any friends, and spends most of his time dicking around at home, going to school, or dicking around at the public pool.  That’s where he meets Dante Quintana, a boy so beautiful and so perfectly effervescent that over the course of the novel he completely changes Ari’s worldview.

 

“It sounds like loads of other books.  What’s so great about it?”

The premise is a popular one for a coming-of-age story, I’ll give you that.  Boys (and girls, for that matter) who feel like they don’t fit in are everywhere in young adult media, but I’ve never seen them written in such a beautiful, wholly realistic way.  Sáenz has a poetic way of writing that makes his words ring with truth.  I honestly don’t think I have the ability to do this book justice.

 

“Wow.  So it’s really that good, huh?”

It is.  Obviously, everyone has different taste in books, so your mileage may vary, but there’s not a person out there who I wouldn’t recommend this book to.  If you don’t like it, you don’t like it (but you’re wrong and I’m judging you).

 

“Why’d you tag it as a “literary” novel?”

I heard somewhere that genre novels have plot and literary novels don’t, in the strictest sense of the term.  There are obviously events that happen in literary novels, but literary novels as a whole are usually about people.  They’re about the human condition.  And the plot of Aristotle and Dante is just “a boy learns to see the world from a different perspective.”  I don’t usually gravitate toward literary novels—I tend to find them stuffy—but this one wasn’t like that.  It’s just adorable gay babies falling in love.

 

“Favourite quote?”

“I didn’t care because what mattered is that Dante’s voice felt real. And I felt real. Until Dante, being with other people was the hardest thing in the world for me. But Dante made talking and living and feeling seem like all those things were perfectly natural. Not in my world, they weren’t.”

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Andie is a 27-year-old romance aficionado who enjoys Netflix, sleeping, video games, and treating her dog like a human baby. She's a triple Aquarius and works to make the world a better place by signing many Change.org petitions.

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