Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Book - 2012
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Fifteen-year-old Ari Mendoza is an angry loner with a brother in prison, but when he meets Dante and they become friends, Ari starts to ask questions about himself, his parents, and his family that he has never asked before.
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2012
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9781442408937
9781442408920
1442408928
Branch Call Number: FICTION (TEEN) Saenz, Benjamin Alire
Characteristics: 359 p. ; 22 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

Fifteen-year-old Ari Mendoza is an angry loner with a brother in prison, but when he meets Dante and they become friends, Ari starts to ask questions about himself, his parents, and his family that he has never asked before. Also available in e-book and e-audiobook formats.

Fifteen-year-old Ari Mendoza is an angry loner with a brother in prison, but when he meets Dante and they become friends, Ari starts to ask questions about himself, his parents, and his family that he has never asked before.

Saint Anthony Park Library book club: March 7, 2018

Highland Park Book Club selection for February 28, 2018

2018 Read Brave Book


From the critics


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a
abbiecochran
Feb 17, 2021

In “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets
of the Universe” by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Aristotle and Dante are pretty much opposites, with the only thing similar between them is that they’re both Mexican. But, even though they’re so different, they find friendship and comfort in each other as they navigate
the difficulties of life and adolescence. This book is a bit difficult to explain without giving something away, so overall, this book shows that the most unexpected people can come into your life and change it for the better.

This book was very heartwarming to me. I liked
how it didn’t sugarcoat anything and never rushed Aristotle and Dante’s friendship. The book is a bit on the deeper side, so if you’re looking for books that touch on sexuality and feeling comfortable with your ethnicity, then this would be a good pick. One
of my favorite parts of the book is that throughout the story, Aristotle begins to love himself even if he isn’t light-skinned like Dante or something like that. It was nice how it promoted that all races and ethnicities are beautiful. All in all, I thought
this book was very good. It was something you could call a “stimulating” read as it had an extensive range of vocabulary and lots of imagery and detailization. This book is definitely one I’ll be reading again and again.

Wow. Incredibly wholesome, sweet, and tremendous book. This falls along side with Radio Silence in terms of coming of age, love and friendship. Just wow. Easily one of my favorite books.
This beautiful novel follows Ari, a young, brooding, yet endearing, teenage boy trying to find his way in life. When Ari meets the bright and optimistic Dante, Ari realizes that they are polar opposites. Where Ari carries a lonesome and melancholy way about him, Dante shines bright in his optimistic love of life, art and poetry.

I loved that this coming-of-age contemporary, was honest and didn't associate the characters with dramatic tropes, it didn't try to sensational the natural experiences young people go through. Instead, this was written in a way that delivered those delicate moments subtly and with meaning.

c
caseygassner
Jan 06, 2021

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenzis a beautifully written and heart-warming book. This book follows the captivating life of two Mexican-American boys and their growing up. Set in Texas in 1987, the two boys face many hardships regarding identity, relationships, and sexuality throughout the story. I love the writing style in this book. It accurately and thoroughly describes a teenager’s relationship with themselves, their friends, as well as their family. Sáenzis’s use of imagery is quite frankly some of the best I have ever seen. This book contains a rollercoaster of emotions, but it is the best kind of rollercoaster to go on. I recommend this book to people who like fast-paced reads and people who love to immerse themselves in stories.

e
emmajoseph_0
Nov 27, 2020

This is my FAVORITE BOOK of all time. And I've read a LOT of books. I've read it three times in two different languages, and I'm not one for re reading books. Not only does the minimalistic language create a beautiful story, but the characters are relatable and lovable and you cheer for them the whole way. I would literally recommend this book to anyone in need of a good read.

s
Sourdough70343
Nov 12, 2020

Don't borrow the ebook of this if you're using a Kobo ereader, for some reason or another it will not sync onto your device or even connect to overdrive from the kobo store. I haven't had this problem with any other ebook so far, putting this book on my wait list has just been a waste of time, I'm going to have to actually buy it now. :(

e
eappelbaum
Nov 06, 2020

A charming book, labeled for young adults, but also good for adults. Noteworthy: the close bond between each of two main characters and his parents. In most YA novels I have seen, the parents are ciphers or malevolent. All four parents love their children; the love is reciprocated.

r
ryner
Oct 22, 2020

Ari is lacking confidence and direction. He feels isolated from his father, who remains haunted by his experiences in the Vietnam War. His parents never talk about his imprisoned older brother, and Ari doesn't even know the details of Bernardo's crime. Then Ari meets Dante, who is light-hearted, well-spoken and sentimental. Dante offers to teach Ari to swim, and a close friendship develops over the course of a summer. When he learns that Dante's family will be moving away for a year, Ari isn't sure how he will survive.

The voices and characters in this heartwarming book felt very genuine, which I always appreciate in young adult fiction because they can be challenging for adult authors to successfully render. Ari and Dante easily endear themselves to the reader, and I would recommend this book to teens and adult of all ages.

t
The_Zookeeper
Aug 30, 2020

This book is beautiful and wonderful and everything that I ever wanted in a book. I can't believe it took me so long to find it. I listened to the audiobook and Lin-Manuel Miranda was a fantastic reader that really put a lot of soul into the telling of this book and I would listen to him read the phone book but aside from that the story was so amazing and I just wanted it to go on and on.

t
TEENREVIEWBOARD
Aug 11, 2020

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sanez This book is most definitely one of my favourite reads. Saenz’s writing has so many complex themes while also being extremely simple and beautiful. Dante and Ari were very intercut characters it is evident that the barriers that the two had put up before meeting each other came down as they became more comfortable with each other Ari and Dante are two opposing forces, Dante being outspoken and loud while Ari is quiet and keeps his words and feelings to himself. Because of their personality differences Dante makes Ari see the world from a new perspective. Making the boys perfect for each other The fact that this book had no traditional plot was incredible. It has no main event that the story is formed around. Its formed around the importance of friendship, family, loving, being loved, trust, truth and so much more. If it was centered around one singular thing the story would get lost somewhere not making it hit as hard as it does. This is a wonderful and exceptionally beautiful read full of poetry and the important questions in life, it’s a journey with a beginning and an end that you can’t help but fall in love with. 5/5 stars
@GreenUnoReverseCard of the Hamilton Public Library Teen Review Board

n
nbartos
Oct 26, 2019

I have mixed feelings about this book as well as mixed feelings about the characters. I think the writing was very beautiful, and I think Lin Manuel Miranda did a great job narrating the audiobook (although, I couldn't stop imagining Ari as Lin). Although I did enjoy Ari's character, and by the end of the book, I liked him a lot more than I did at the beginning, I enjoyed Dante's character even more. (view spoiler) I have mixed feelings about this book as well as mixed feelings about the characters. I think the writing was very beautiful, and I think Lin Manuel Miranda did a great job narrating the audiobook (although, I couldn't stop imagining Ari as Lin). Although I did enjoy Ari's character, and by the end of the book, I liked him a lot more than I did at the beginning, I enjoyed Dante's character even more. (view spoiler) I loved the examination of the boys' relationships with their parents, and I think Dante's relationship with his was especially great because it wasn't this strained, angsty relationship that I'm used to seeing in YA novels. I think the growth between Ari and his father was also beautiful and well done. I don't have as much of a problem with the lack of major plot as some other reviewers, but I think it's important to note that it's not action-packed or anything; it's almost more of a character study, which I kind of love. I know this book is about discovery, so it's more about the journey, but I do wish the ending was a little more...grandiose maybe? I just wish it was more of a revelation, even with all of the foreshadowing leading up to it.
Overall, I enjoyed it, and I enjoyed the realness and flaws of the characters. I think I'll be picking up the sequel (if it is ever released).

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Quotes

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Laura_X Aug 03, 2018

The summer sun was not meant for boys like me. Boys like me belonged to the rain.

b
bangbangtangdyn
Nov 18, 2017

"Do you remember the summer of the rain...You must let everything fall that wants to fall. —Karen Fiser”

p
paytonm20
Jul 08, 2015

All I did was smile at him. He'd told me something about himself. I was happy
Ari (pg.66)

j
jump4ever
Aug 18, 2013

"Smiles are like that. They come and go."

Violet_Lion_31 Jul 03, 2013

"Scars. A sign that you had been hurt. A sign thst you had been healed."

Violet_Lion_31 Jul 03, 2013

"And me, I always felt that I didn't belong anywhere. I didn't even belong in my own body - especially in my own body. I was changing into someone I didn't know. The change hurt but I didn't know why it hurt. And nothing about my own emotions made any sense."

JCLChrisK Apr 30, 2013

To be careful with people and with words was a rare and beautiful thing.

JCLChrisK Apr 30, 2013

I had a rule that it was better to be bored by yourself than to be bored with someone else. I pretty much lived by that rule. Maybe that's why I didn't have any friends.

JCLChrisK Apr 30, 2013

I didn't understand how you could live in a mean world and not have any of that meanness rub off on you. How could a guy live without meanness?

JCLChrisK Apr 30, 2013

See, the thing about guys is that I didn't really care to be around them. I mean, guys really made me uncomfortable. I don't know why, not exactly. I just, I don't know, I just didn't belong. I think it embarrassed the hell out of me that I was a guy. And it really depressed me that there was the distinct possibility that I was going to grow up and be like one of those assholes.

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Age

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a
abbiecochran
Feb 17, 2021

abbiecochran thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

t
theythem
Jun 12, 2019

theythem thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

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KaylaAlexander
Jul 13, 2018

KaylaAlexander thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

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homarrmirezz
Feb 24, 2017

homarrmirezz thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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VV12
Aug 19, 2015

VV12 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

bootsandcats Apr 29, 2015

bootsandcats thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

BklynAllisonA Oct 16, 2014

BklynAllisonA thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

j
jroxy49
Jun 26, 2014

jroxy49 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

Violet_Lion_31 Jul 03, 2013

Violet_Lion_31 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Summary

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olive_bird_01 Jul 22, 2015

Through their friendship, Dante and Ari find the courage to become who they really are.

p
paytonm20
Jul 08, 2015

Ari doesn't know how to swim, but that doesn't stop him from going to the pool everyday. Thank god he does though cause this is where Dante enters, saying he can teach Ari how to swim. Soon there friendship starts turning into something Ari didn't think could happen.

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