Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: February 21, 2012
Rating: 5 out of 5
If you didn’t know, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz has TONS of awards on its cover. And for a good reason, too. When I picked this book up, I was going into it with a lot of expectations because, well, AWARDS. Honestly though, this book deserves all of the praise. Aristotle and Dante blew me away and has made it onto my list of 2015 favorites, possibly one of my favorites of all time.
One of the many things I like about Aristotle and Dante is that there isn’t really a plot going on in the story. By no means is this story boring though. The reader follows Aristotle– Ari for short– a teen Mexican boy (yay for diversity!!) who is just trying to figure out what his purpose in the world is, when he meets Dante, also a Mexican teen boy, but one who seems to be able to help out Ari. The plot is simply about self-discovery and every little day that they experience peels back another layer in both boys.
Aristotle is very different from Dante, yet they complement each other perfectly in their friendship. Aristotle is confused and feels like he has to adhere to Mexican stereotypes, whereas Dante is who he wants to be: himself, and himself only. Dante speaks his mind openly and honestly, whereas Aristotle hides his emotions. While Dante seems to be the more confident one, he still learns tremendously from Aristotle. They grow together, forming a friendship that is true, believable, and heartwarming.
Aside from the characters and plot in Aristotle and Dante, Saenz’s writing style is also very captivating. It’s overly simplistic, reflecting Aristotle’s POV and voice, yet it’s still very mature. It’s so simple sometimes that you don’t really expect anything profound to come out of it until BOOM, it hits you right in the face. Saenz’s writing helps shape the characterization in this story really well.
I don’t know what else to say that won’t give away the entire story, but Aristotle and Dante really truly blew me away by the end of the story with the way Ari and Dante discover the secrets of THEIR universe. It’s a beautiful story that will remain in my heart for a long, long time.