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

The first time I saw and held this book, I thought it had one of the best covers I’ve seen in a while, and the title itself is screaming “Good Book!” “Read Me!” “Now!” but I didn’t exactly read it right away. It took me over three months before I finally decided to give it a go. I finished it in a day, and I was just so in love with it and was amazed at how affecting and rich the story was. I thought to myself, why didn’t I read this sooner? At least now, I know what the raves are all about! 

This coming-of-age book is about young Mexican-American teenagers Aristotle Mendoza and Dante Quintana trying to discover the “secrets of the universe.” It’s a story of self-discovery, acceptance, and living in the now without forgetting the past. It tackles so many things that even adults alike don’t seem to understand. Those secrets of the universe became Ari and Dante’s emotional, psychological, and sometimes physical battlefields that they had to go through to realize something out of them. 

I loved how this story reminded me of that feeling when I’ve read one of my favorite books, “Lonesome Dove” by Larry McMurtry, due to its stirring and lyrical rendition of the story. Benjamin Alire Saenz’s writing here is flawless. It speaks. It will affect you. Remember when Call had to bury Gus? I cried for days. And I cried reading this as well.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is simply forgettable. 

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Published February 21st 2012 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers


About the Author
Benjamin Alire Sáenz is an author of poetry and prose for adults and teens. He was the first Hispanic winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and a recipient of the American Book Award for his books for adults. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe was a Printz Honor Book, the Stonewall Award winner, the Pura Belpré Award winner, the Lambda Literary Award winner, and a finalist for the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award. His first novel for teens, Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood, was an ALA Top Ten Book for Young Adults and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His second book for teens, He Forgot to Say Goodbye, won the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award, the Southwest Book Award, and was named a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age. He lives in El Paso, Texas.

2 responses to “Book Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

  1. aguywithoutboxers

    Thanks for this enticing review. I’ll check it out. Too late for my “summer reading,” it looks like one for one of my “holiday” list to-reads during the academic year. Much love and naked hugs! 🙂

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