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

August 19, 2016
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

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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 friendshipโ€”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

My Thoughts on the Book

The first lines of this book have honestly already touched some part of my soul; that was why I just couldn’t bring it down and stop reading. I feel like the line “why is there a riot in the heart when we love?” will forever be engraved in my mind. Wow, thanks Benjamin, you just successfully made your place in my heart.

This book is lovely. It brings with it quite a simple story of a 15-year-old boy, Ari, who was growing up whilst searching for who he really is as well. But even if the story and the way it was written was simple – not plain but not grand as well, it was definitely more than what it was in the surface. It was a story of friendship – one that was courageous, unique, and weird in a positive way. It was a story of growing up – what it was like in the stage of searching who you are supposed to be in this world. It was a story of a family – one that made everything work despite some hardships. It was a story on homosexuality – one that was innocent, direct, and brave. It was a story on depression – one that lightly showed the effects of it and how one goes through with and overcomes it. And finally, it was a story on love – somehow different but memorable, touching, and heart-bursting.

The book brought with it such a beautiful story encompassing all the said topics without overwhelming the reader. For that, I commend the writer. Although I would really like to know more about Ari’s brother and his story, the novel still is a big thumbs up from me. The words were plain because it was written in the perspective of Ari who was only 15 years of age. However, his words seemed very mature yet very innocent and I loved that. I loved how the words were stitched together to create stings in its readers’ hearts. For me, those words of a child seemed as powerful, if not more, as an adult’s; they had an inevitable impact, every word, the kind of impact that will leave marks on you. And it was all beautiful.

I also admired the fact that the story, in spite of its simplicity and innocence, was not cliche at all. It had twists and turns that I never thought would happen and it was also not predictable. That, for me, is definitely a plus.

It saddened me though that it ended quite abruptly, for me, but I guess I just wanted to read more of the book and for the story not to end. That’s how beautifully written it was. Kudos, Benjamin Saenz, those awards were all undoubtedly well-deserved!

If you are finding for another contemporary book to read, this is one I suggest you to read. Your time will not be wasted and most importantly, the book will make you speechless in a beautiful, beautiful way. Just prepare some tissues for some scenes! You’re welcome!

Favorite Lines from the Book

  • “Words were different when they lived inside of you.”
  • “Something happened inside me as I looked out into the vast universe. Through that telescope, the world was closer and larger than I’d ever imagined. And it was all so beautiful and overwhelming and – I don’t know – it made me aware that there was something inside of me that mattered.”
  • “…from what we cannot hold the stars were made.”
  • “There’s a wound somewhere inside of him, Ari.”
  • “We sat, drinking our tea and watching the rain fall on his front porch. The sky was almost black and then it started hailing. It was so beautiful and scary, I wondered about the science of storms and how sometimes it seemed that a storm wanted to break the world and how the world refused to break.”


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Have you read this book or is planning to read it? Share with me your thoughts on the comments below! I would love to hear them! Also, no spoilers please ๐Ÿ™‚


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