Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

Book review time! Are you ready?!

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. (Goodreads)

aristotle and dante

Guys…I loved this book.

This book is such an endearing depiction of the struggles that teenagers go through when discovering who they are. This book is written from Aristotle’s perspective; an angry and sad teenage boy who is trying hard to process his feelings about himself, his family, Dante, and ultimately his life.

I loved this book for so many reasons, mainly the friendship between Dante and Aristotle. At the beginning of the book they seem like polar opposites but as the book goes on Aristotle becomes more and more aware of their similarities. Their relationship is so honest and raw and meaningful and is undoubtedly complex.  That being said, I really enjoyed the depiction of all the relationships in this book, particularly the familial relationships. In a lot of young adult fiction, there are some common tropes which usually appear; such as single parent families, problematic relationships between parents or parent and child etc. However, in these book both Aristotle and Dante have fairly positive relationships with their families, and where there are problems they continue to develop over the course of the story.

I really enjoyed the themes in this book and I found it to be such a beautifully written examination of identity. Aristotle and Dante both struggle in many aspects with identity; regarding family, sexuality, nationality and more. In particular I enjoyed the ongoing discussion between Aristotle and Dante of being a Mexican teen living in America and about ‘feeling like a true Mexican’ and such. I loved the exploration of sexuality and of puberty that the boys go; the experimentation and the discussion on things like masturbation. It all felt very honest and realistic to the teenage condition and how uncertain teenagers are when changes are happening in their lives.

I found this book so engrossing and different from a lot of young adult fiction that I have read in the past. I felt it was extremely descriptive and analytical and that the story managed to cover a lot of different events and plot points without feeling too fast paced. In short, I bloody loved it!

If you are a lover of contemporary fiction, books about coming of age or ‘finding yourself’, family, friendship and sexuality, then this book is for you. I really would recommend it to you, whether you read young adult or not!

 

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