Saturday, August 2, 2014

Book Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz 
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers 
Release date: February 21st 2012
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 359 
My rating: 5+/5


Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

This book had been on my to be read list for a while, so long that I had kind of forgotten about it. That is until my friend showed me the book he received as a gift. He’s not a huge reader and when I asked if I could borrow it he said of course. I gave it back to him two days later. If it hadn’t been for school I probably would have finished it in one sitting. Instead of doing that I read it during and in between classes.

The characters are definitely the most important part of this story. While I was reading it I really was living Ari’s life with him. I loved getting to know more and more about his life in little bits. Not everything about his past gets dumped on you in the first couple of chapters. We gradually get to know him as he gets to know himself.
Dante was just lovely. We see him grow just as much as Ari even though the story isn’t told from his perspective. Even when he’s not actually with Ari he develops so much through the letters he writes. By the end of the book they are both different, and better, people then they were in the beginning.

In a lot of books that deal with LGBT issues parents are one of the obstacles the character coming out has to face. Whether they are actually unsupportive or the character is just worried they will be. The parents in this story are the opposite and it was so nice to read about it. They knew their children sometimes even better then they knew himself. I don’t think I’ve ever read about better parents. And it’s not like they were perfect either, they had their flaws and struggles. That didn’t stop them from being great parents. 

The writing style in this book is different from most books. It’s so lyrical and beautiful without ever getting pretentious. I am definitely going to reread this book and highlight all the wonderful quotes.
The short chapters makes it feel like you’re getting to see the important moments in Ari’s life, the ones that changed him. I absolutely love short chapters, they make the content feel so much more important. And this author manages to say so much with so little.

Even though I don’t struggle with the same things Ari deals with he was so relatable. Because he isn’t always fighting against the world, although he doesn’t know it, but against himself. And to me that was the big message in this story. Accepting yourself is always so much more important than getting accepted by the world. 

I think it's great that this book exists, because there are a lot of books about gay teens getting bullied about their sexuality already. That doesn't make it easier for teenagers who are scared to come out. This book, on the other hand, is encouraging and shows that it doesn't always have to be difficult and that there will be people to support you too. 

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