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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

by

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe Cover

ISBN13: 9781442408920
ISBN10: 1442408928
All Product Details

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A lyrical novel about family and friendship from critically acclaimed author Benjamin Alire Sáenz.
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.

Review:

"Fifteen-year-old Aristotle (Ari) has always felt lonely and distant from people until he meets Dante, a boy from another school who teaches him how to swim. As trust grows between the boys and they become friends (a first for Ari), Ari's world opens up while they discuss life, art, literature, and their Mexican-American roots. Additionally, the influence of Dante's warm, open family (they even have a 'no secrets' rule) is shaping Ari's relationship with his parents, particularly in regard to a family secret; Ari has an older brother in prison, who no one ever mentions. In a poetic coming-of-age story written in concise first-person narrative, Sáenz (Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood) crystallizes significant turning points in the boys' relationship, especially as Ari comes to understand that Dante's feelings for him extend beyond friendship. The story swells to a dramatic climax as Ari's loyalties are tested, and he confronts his most deeply buried fears and desires. It's a tender, honest exploration of identity and sexuality, and a passionate reminder that love — whether romantic or familial — should be open, free, and without shame. Ages 12 — up." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Review:

"This book took my breath away. What gorgeous writing, and what a story! I loved both these boys. And their parents! Don't we all wish we had parents like theirs? The ending — and the way it unfolded — was so satisfying. I could go on and on...suffice it to say I will be highly recommending it to one and all. I'm sure I'll reread it myself at some point. I hated having it end." James Howe, Author of Addie on the Inside

Review:

"Authentic teen and Latino dialogue should make it a popular choice." School Library Journal (Starred Review)

Review:

"Sáenez writes toward the end of the novel that “to be careful with people and words was a rare and beautiful thing.” And that’s exactly what Sáenez does — he treats his characters carefully, giving them space and time to find their place in the world, and to find each other...those struggling with their own sexuality may find it to be a thought-provoking read." Booklist

Review:

"Sáenez is a master at capturing the conversation of teens with each other and with the adults in their lives." Library Media Connection

About the Author

Benjamin Alire Sáenz is an American Book Award-winning author of poetry and prose for adults and teens. His first novel for teens, Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood, was an ALA Top Ten Book for Young Adults and a finalist for the Los Angels Times Book Prize. His second book for teens, He Forgot to Say Goodbye, won the Tomas Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award, the Southwest Books Award, and was named a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age. He teaches creative writing at the University of Texas, El Paso.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

Disquietus, April 27, 2014 (view all comments by Disquietus)
If I had to use one word to describe this book it would be beautiful. The story, the characters, everything. This is not my usual kind of book and it’s the first time I’ve read anything dealing with this particular issue but I feel like Sáenz handled it flawlessly.

The first thing I fell in love with was the writing. It’s the kind of writing that I want to endlessly gush about it. Sáenz has a talent for conveying an overwhelming amount of emotion in very few words. His simple prose and utilization of short sentences and chapters is usually not the kind of writing that works for me, but his writing is so lyrical and evocative that I was instantly engaged and couldn’t stop reading until I was done. His is the kind of writing that gives you the sense that every word was selected with great love and care.

The second thing I fell in love with was Ari, and through his narration I fell in love with all the other characters as well, from Dante to the dog Legs. It was so easy for me to relate to Ari, despite the fact that we have nothing in common other than an overwhelming sense of loneliness. In a lot of ways he reminded me of Holden Caulfield of The Catcher in the Rye, who is one of my favorite narrator’s ever. Ari’s mind and narration is honest, thoughtful and of course beautiful. It is also brutally painful and caused me to have all sorts of aching emotions. Honestly, as I was reading I felt like I was growing up right alongside Ari.

Dante and both sets of parents are also lovely. While the book is told exclusively from Ari’s POV, it is so easy to feel as if you understand Dante and the parents just as well as you do Ari by the end of it. Sáenz developed all of his characters masterfully and there is not a one who is not a complexly layered fully developed individual. So often in first person narrations the secondary characters do not get the development they deserve but that never becomes an issue here.

However it is the relationships that are hands down the best part of this book. Dante and Ari’s friendship is completely organic and realistic. The love the parents have for their sons, their insight and understanding of these boys made my heart melt because they are the truest child/parent relationships I’ve ever read.

This really was one of the most honest, thoughtful, and genuinely realistic books about the importance of family, love and finding yourself that I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. This is the book that should be studied in every high school and I will be recommending it to everyone I know until they all read it.
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The Lost Entwife, September 24, 2013 (view all comments by The Lost Entwife)
I read Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe in a single day. I devoured it. I laughed out loud and cried and loved every single moment spent with Ari and Dante. I loved the details, the family dynamics and the moments of real, hard-hitting, emotional situations. I would never have picked this up if my friend, Kari, had not put it on one of her beautiful lists of books. I'm so glad I did. So glad. This is the book that every teenager needs to read - most especially those who feel different in their sexuality, their loneliness, their "weirdness", or however they feel detached from the rest of the world. If I had read this book as a younger girl I would have understood so much more about me - I would have been reassured that I was not the only one out there feeling as if there was something different about me and I couldn't figure it out so therefore I should give up.

There are several different aspects of this book that spoke to me. The first was the relationship of Ari to his parents, and Dante to his. Both have a unique dynamic with similarities in how much the parents love their children. There is open communication, open talk of "rules," but also open breaking of rules when the time and place are appropriate. There are rewards and punishments, experimentation with things teenagers experiment with, and finally an open admission of rules being broken to parents and parents understanding that it will happen.

There's funny moments in this book (Dante and his complete distaste for shoes, a discussion of being who is more Mexican, open discussion about sexuality between the boys) and there are moments that make me believe in humanity again (the love for William Carlos Williams and old classic books). There's tasteful, beautiful descriptions about making the right choices, and coming to terms with what those choices will mean. There's loving acceptance of parents for who their children are, and there's grief and finally acceptance that sometimes parents make mistakes, too.

What I loved most about this book was the forgiveness. That mistake sentence above is pretty powerful, when you think about it. Parents don't often like to admit they have made mistakes to their children, but when they do, it's a big deal for forgiveness to happen. It's an example that is not often set and, I think, one of the most important lessons that adults can impart to children. Asking for forgiveness is hard - it's one of the hardest things to do, but oh how that lesson is needed.

So I loved Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. I will admit I went into it knowing I would love it, I was predisposed to love it thanks to my friends and their glowing praise of it, but I came away not only loving it but wanting to share it with everyone I know while still keeping it close to my heart.
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linda cohen, February 9, 2013 (view all comments by linda cohen)
How to describe this sweet and beautiful story? I could float away from the sheer joy I feel all the way down to the tips of my toes.
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View all 3 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9781442408920
Author:
Saenz, Benjamin Alire
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Subject:
Situations / Friendship
Subject:
Children s-General
Publication Date:
20120221
Binding:
Hardback
Language:
English
Pages:
368
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in
Age Level:
from 12

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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe New Hardcover
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Product details 368 pages Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers - English 9781442408920 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Fifteen-year-old Aristotle (Ari) has always felt lonely and distant from people until he meets Dante, a boy from another school who teaches him how to swim. As trust grows between the boys and they become friends (a first for Ari), Ari's world opens up while they discuss life, art, literature, and their Mexican-American roots. Additionally, the influence of Dante's warm, open family (they even have a 'no secrets' rule) is shaping Ari's relationship with his parents, particularly in regard to a family secret; Ari has an older brother in prison, who no one ever mentions. In a poetic coming-of-age story written in concise first-person narrative, Sáenz (Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood) crystallizes significant turning points in the boys' relationship, especially as Ari comes to understand that Dante's feelings for him extend beyond friendship. The story swells to a dramatic climax as Ari's loyalties are tested, and he confronts his most deeply buried fears and desires. It's a tender, honest exploration of identity and sexuality, and a passionate reminder that love — whether romantic or familial — should be open, free, and without shame. Ages 12 — up." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Review" by , "This book took my breath away. What gorgeous writing, and what a story! I loved both these boys. And their parents! Don't we all wish we had parents like theirs? The ending — and the way it unfolded — was so satisfying. I could go on and on...suffice it to say I will be highly recommending it to one and all. I'm sure I'll reread it myself at some point. I hated having it end."
"Review" by , "Authentic teen and Latino dialogue should make it a popular choice."
"Review" by , "Sáenez writes toward the end of the novel that “to be careful with people and words was a rare and beautiful thing.” And that’s exactly what Sáenez does — he treats his characters carefully, giving them space and time to find their place in the world, and to find each other...those struggling with their own sexuality may find it to be a thought-provoking read."
"Review" by , "Sáenez is a master at capturing the conversation of teens with each other and with the adults in their lives."
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