Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
When Aristotle and Dante meet, in the summer of 1987, they are 15-year-olds existing in “the universe between boys and men.” The two are opposites in most ways: Dante is sure of his place in the world, while Ari feels he may never know who he is or what he wants. But both are thoughtful about their feelings and interactions with others, and this title is primarily focused on the back-and-forth in their relationship over the course of a year. Family issues take center stage, as well as issues of Mexican identity, but the heart of the novel is Dante’s openness about his homosexuality and Ari’s suppression of his. Sáenz (Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood, 2004) writes toward the end of the novel that “to be careful with people and words was a rare and beautiful thing.” And that’s exactly what Sáenz does—he treats his characters carefully, giving them space and time to find their place in the world, and to find each other. This moves at a slower pace than many YA novels, but patient readers, and those struggling with their own sexuality, may find it to be a thought-provoking read. Grades 9-12. –Ann Kelley
Where do I start? I just don’t know about this book. I was really into the book based on the cover. I love the cover of this book. I have heard many great things about the book so I set out to read it. I was interested at first, but the story just did not grab me and suck me in. I kept waiting and waiting for me to become part of the story, but it never happened. I kept waiting for something major to happen and one thing does somewhat early on, but I had to wait until around page 300 to finally get somewhere. I did not see the ending coming at all so bonus points for an ending that I did plan foresee.
I wanted to like this book so bad, but in the end it just did not grab me. However, I feel like I am the first one to feel this way. I think part of it was I cannot handle reading about someone being feeling blah about themselves. I can handle a little bit of it, but not for hundreds of pages. I completely understand the mindset of a teenager because I felt those moments of just wanting to be alone and quiet, but I cannot read about it for 250 pages.
This book is going to be everywhere as word continues to spread. The plot raises some great questions and discussion. Despite not being a favorite read of the year I will continue to support this book and promote it for others to read because I think there is something special about this book. It just did not connect with me during this read.