Book Review

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

aristotle and dante discover the secrets of the universe by benjamin saenz

Published: February 21, 2012

Number of pages: 359

Format: hardcover

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Genre: coming of age, contemporary, friendships and relationships

Audience: YA

Rating: 5 owl hoots out of 5


Dante and Ari are different boys with different personalities. And yet they meet one summer when Ari offers Dante swimming lessons. After that moment Dante and Ari immediately become friends, something that Ari didn’t anticipate as no one was able to break down the walls that he built around himself. Until he met Dante anyways. Since that day at the swimming pool, the boys share a special bond as they exchange their feelings, thoughts, and dreams while trying to discover the secrets of the universe.

My Review:

This book opened my eyes in a way that I had to put down everything else I was reading. It made me think about myself, my place in the world, and my relationship with everyone in my personal life. The story, the characters, everything was put together so well that in the end I had little words to describe how beautiful it is.

The story is told by Dante and starts out complicated because Dante is such a complicated character. He’s a difficult character who prefers a life of solitude as he tries to find his identity. He is someone who is struggling to understand himself, while figuring out what it is that he wants in life. He is a boy who is angry and sad about himself and he can’t explain why. He builds a barrier because he doesn’t want anyone to figure him out. Or maybe Dante is afraid someone might not like what they see after they get to know him. But when Dante meets Ari everything in him changes, his views about family, his life, and how he sees the world. And it all happened after a swimming lesson.

This is a story about two Mexican boys who met each other one hot summer day in 1987 and became inseparable. Throughout the story we see them sharing their secrets, dreams, and their fears. I personally felt an emotional attachment with these boys, especially Ari as he often voices the same thoughts and feelings I have about my family and myself. I was mesmerized of how the story is written in a way that is simple and straight forward, but deep and meaningful at the same time.

This is beautiful coming of age story that I think everyone should read and rightfully deserves the awards it was given. After I finished reading I remember closing the book shut and thinking “Oh. My. Gosh.” I think that’s an appropriate response after reading this wonderful book.


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