Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz (Review)


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 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 people they want to be.

This is hands down one of the best books I have ever read.  There essentially isn’t a plot and just focuses on a boy, Aristotle, and his character development while he thinks about life and himself.  Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe left me with a very calm and peaceful mood, I didn’t even realize how invested I was in the story until I finished the book, and discovered that I flew through it in one day!  I highly recommend this book, especially to those who love contemporaries about family and friendship; this is definitely a book that gives you all the ‘feels’ and it fortified why I read YA books.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe follows Aristotle, a very angry young teen with an older brother in prison.  His family never speaks of this brother, to them it is as if he disappeared from the face of the planet, leaving no stains of his existence on the Earth, however, he stained Aristotle, leaving him desperately wondering who this mysterious character is.  Aristotle also has a few older sisters, but since they are all so much older than him, it is as if he is an only child, leaving him very lonely because he also doesn’t relate to people his age.

One day, Aristotle meets another boy named Dante at the swimming pool, and Dante seems to be everything he is not: outgoing, peculiar, and bursting with kindness and patience.  From this day on, Aristotle and Dante form a unique friendship, which allows them not only to uncover some of the “secrets of the universe” but to uncover who they truly are and what makes them happy.

As I mentioned above, this book focuses alot on friendship and I absolutely adored it! Like all real friendships, the one formed between Aristotle and Dante was not always easy, but in the end they always cared for each other because their friendship had formed an unbreakable bond between them.  Not only was Aristotle and Dante’s friendship beautiful, but I also really enjoyed the relationship between Aristotle and two girls he knew from school, and how although he earlier didn’t want to admit it, along the way he gained the friendship of them as well.

Another thing I adored was the novel’s focus on family.  I have mentioned this before on my blog, but often in YA dystopian or contemporary books, the family is either absent or horrible people.  While this is sometimes true, I myself have a really wonderful and supportive family, so I loved reading about Aristotle’s and Dante’s families, because they did love each other so deeply.

A unique point in this book was the prominence placed on the culture of the characters. Both Aristotle and Dante are Mexican, and it was interesting to see bits and pieces of Mexican culture woven into this story.  Also, both Dante and Aristotle are the children of immigrants, but they themselves have only lived in America, so they often discuss that they truly are not Mexican at heart, and I thought this was really fascinating, because me, myself am a child of two Portuguese immigrants and I could relate a lot to what they were saying.

Lastly, the ending of the book was one of the best endings I have ever read.  I do not want to dig deep into it because I do not want to spoil it for anyone, but I loved how the story came together in the end and how all of the characters got their happy endings.  This is not a book where anyone is killed off or dies due to a lethal disease or anything, so I loved the fact that this is a book that focuses on a snippet of a character’s life, and how it ends in a way that we can picture how Aristotle and Dante’s life will unfold.

Overall I LOVED this book and HIGHLY recommend picking this book up.  It is not a fast-paced, action-packed world, but it is really enchanting and will take you on a beautiful journey of friendship and self-discovery.  Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe contains a lot of truth within it, and it was amazing to read about all the life captured between the pages of this book.  This post is more me gushing about why I loved this book than an actual review, but there was not one thing I didn’t like in it, so I felt it was my duty to convey all of the joy that reading this book brought me.


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