There are books that you begin reading and instantly know that it will be a favorite. Within the first minute of reading/listening to Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Saenz, I knew it was a favorite. I immediately related to the main characters and felt a nostalgic toward them.
Aristotle and Dante is the story of an unlikely friendship. Aristotle is 15 years old and he doesn’t have a lot of friends and prefers to be alone. He is a lot younger than his other siblings so he is basically raised as an only child. Aristotle is trying to figure out who he is and what he wants. Dante is a self-assured 15 year old who is open and almost childlike in his outlook on life. The story begins in the summer and follows them for a period of about 2 years as they figure out life, love, and friendship in their late adolescense.
I just absolutely loved this story. The friendship and family dynamic was awesome. Aristotle and Dante both had involved and engaging parents who only wanted to guide their children in life so they could be happy and fulfilled. The parents in the book loved their children fiercly and I loved reading and I loved it. As characters Aristotle and Dante were so well lwritten characters. There was so much depth in both of them and I totally related to them. Often times when I read young adult literature I cannot relate to the angsty teenagers with parents who don’t care what I do.
This book is definitely a diverse read. The main cast of characters are Mexican American, there is homosexual representation, and a setting I have never seen (El Paso, Texas). Parental guide: There is underage drinking and swear words used throughout. It was nothing that was alarming to me as a parent, so I didn’t mind it. The writing in this book is geared towards mature YA readers and I would not recommend this book for anyone under the age of 13.
Overall, Benjamin Alire Saenz was able to create a coming of age story with beauiful prose about friendship, family, finding live and acceptance. I highly recommend this book and strongly recommend the audiobook. It is narrated by Lin-Manuel Miranda of Hamilton fame and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I obviously gave this book 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.
If you’ve read this, what did you think? Let me know in the comments