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Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author: Benjamin Alire Saenz
Year Published: 2012

Genre: YA Fiction
Pages: 359
Rating: 5 out of 5

Location (my 2013 Google Reading map): USA (Texas)

FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my school library

Summary (from the back of the book): Dante can swim. Ari can't. Dante is articulate and self-assured. Ari has a hard time with words and suffers from self-doubt. Dante gets lost in poetry and art. Ari gets lost in thoughts of his older brother who is in prison. Dante is fair skinned. Ari's features are much darker. It seems that a boy like Dante, with his open and unique perspective on life, would be the last person to break down the walls that Ari has built around himself. But when Ari and Dante meet, they bond. They share books, thoughts, dreams, laughter. They teach each other new vocabularies and begin to redefine each other's worlds. And they discover that the universe is a large and difficult place.

This is the story about two boys, Ari and Dante, who must learn to believe in each other and the power of their friendship if they ever are to become men.

Review: Last week this book won the Stonewall Award, the Pura Belpre Award, and was named an Honor Book for the Michael L. Printz Award. Can I just say O.M.G.! I loved this book and think it is beautiful. Why do I love it?
  • The book is told from Ari's point of view, but we get to know both Ari and Dante well. The characters are complete, interesting, likable, thoughtful, and real.
  • Both Ari and Dante are Mexican-American, but they aren't in gangs. I think that bears repeating. Ari and Dante are not in gangs. They aren't drug dealers. They aren't in prison. In fact, they are nice fifteen-year olds who are working on becoming young men.
  • Ari and Dante have good home lives. Their parents work, are educated, care about their children, and they all like and love each other. It isn't lame, sappy family relationships, but real, honest, caring relationships. Yes, Ari has some issues with his family, but we all do and that makes this book even better.
  • Friendship is really the main theme of this book. Ari and Dante don't have many friends, but they get along very well. I love that they laugh together. A lot. Good friends should do that. They also fight, tease, share, freak each other out, talk about private stuff, and have secrets.
  • The best thing about Ari and Dante is that they bring out the best in each other
  • The events of the book are good too. I am not going to discuss any of them because in this book it is so important for the reader to discover it all for him/herself.
So, go find this book. Read it. Appreciate it. Oh gosh, now I hope I haven't built it up too much and you'll be disappointed. I hope you enjoy it.

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