Tag Archives: coming of age

Book review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Rated it: 5 stars

I reread this gem last year and the feels are still incredibly strong. Long story short this is a coming of age story of teenager Aristotle (told entirely in his point of view) during the 1980s set in El Paso, Texas, and spans two years.

The summer was hot and humid, the rain was like a veil into different emotional dimension I kid you not. And the birds, well they were there crapping on people in a real way. Oh, just read the thing and you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s raining as I’m writing, and usually when it does I’m reminded of my summer boys.

And I’ll be straight with you, dear readers, this is a novel I cannot formulate a coherent sentences worthy of a decent review so I’m afraid you’ll have to settle for this mass of fangirl babble. Ari was at the awkward age where he’s coming to terms that his body is changing, he’s occupied with thoughts of his veteran father who’s in another world most of the time. Added to that he’s somewhat obsessed with an older brother who he barely remembers. 

He meets the soft spoken and bookish Dante (one of the cinnamon-iest cinnamon roll I’ve read so far) one day at the pool. A loner by choice, Ari begins to find his company an education.

The friendship that grows between these two … it’s simple yet it’s not. For better or for worse they change each other. Simply by being there they challenged themselves with facing the hard questions, the kind of questions that makes them realize just how vast and painfully tangible the universe possibly is.

What I loved

  • Sáenz didn’t mince words, let me tell you. When I first read it I was confused and uncomfortable but then I got it. This was Ari’s voice: raw, undiluted and straightforward. Also the writing gets poetic, which I expect from a book with a guy named Aristotle in it. Not that he’s poetic. Hmm, well he does get poetic but he doesn’t think he is.
  • Ari. I like him. A lot. Full of angsty pubescent emotions, foul mouthed (as much as a fifteen year old can be in YA), a natural born smart ass, and an actual decent human being. Cute too, did I mention?
  • Dante, another smarty pants. He’s the yin to Ari’s yang. Gentle, fierce, kind and forever curious. If I recall correctly, he has identity issues with his Mexian ancestry, having not been immersed in it as much as Ari. He’s terribly brave when it comes down to it.
  • The parents Continue reading

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Filed under Books, Fiction, Young Adult