Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Benjamin Alire Sáenz)

Saenz, Benjamin Alire - Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of the Universe


Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Genre: Contemporary Fiction / YA
First published: 2012
Edition: Paperback, published by Simon and Schuster

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.

There was much I enjoyed about this Young Adult book about a Mexican boy in El Paso coming of age, but I also cannot help the feeling that at the end I wanted something more from it, or something different.

The characters were well written. The two boys from the title are very different in characters, but they develop a  friendship. This friendship was what I enjoyed most about this book, as well as the respective relationships with their parents. I like seeing parents actually being this involved in their children’s lives. That was refreshing. Too often the parents hardly feature in YA books.

The ending did not quite work for me. Somehow, I had expected (and hoped) the book to do something a bit different. It was not a bad ending, by any means, but it was just a bit middle of the road in the end. I wish it had wowed me more.

It was definitely a good book and I would recommend it, but it is also a little forgettable.

5 out of 7 stars


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