None right now

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Lefty's Lowdown: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Published: February 21, 2012 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Source: Read for free on All opinions stated in this review are my own.
Summary from Goodreads: 
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.

I'd heard a lot about this novel but I wasn't quite sure what to expect, really. A cute dude romance. That's all I had in my brain going into this book, and boy was I misguided in that. This novel is more than a sweet story of two boys falling in love. Much, much more. Reading this book allowed me to embark on a journey of asking questions and learning how to come to terms with feelings. 

I've seen a lot of reviews criticizing Ari's character, claiming he's mean and treats people poorly, and I just have to disagree. In my opinion, Ari was painfully real and relatable. I saw a young boy who resorted to coping mechanisms and aversion tactics, who didn't know how to handle all the thoughts swirling around his head, who was often lonely and bored and insecure. I saw so many pieces of my heart in Ari, so many pieces of my fears and flaws. Maybe he wasn't a particularly likeable character, so to speak, but he was a character I really sympathized with, rooted for, and ended up loving, despite his flaws, and I think that's a truly beautiful, raw relationship to have with a fictional character. 

Dante, on the other hand, was a delightful contrast to Ari. He was unabashed and so generous with his love. He was exactly the person Ari needed in his life. With that said, though, this is not really what I'd consider a romantic book. In my opinion, their relationship is more about friendship and different variations on love, and the way feelings truly affect you. Of course I shipped them together because they balanced each other out beautifully, but they didn't have the sort of relationship where I wanted to push their heads together and make them kiss like two dolls. I wanted their relationship to evolve slowly, for them both to really figure things out before they came to terms with their feelings for each other. I was more than satisfied where these characters ended up--I was grinning like a fool by the time I reached the novel's conclusion. 

Now, admittedly, this is not a plot-focused book by any means. It's all about character development. I'm all on board with that, but I know a lot of people are not as gung-ho about it as myself. So, yes, this book is essentially plot-less, but it still managed to keep my attention and keep me eager to know what happens to my little babies. The writing style took me a little bit of time to get used to, but by the end, I really adored it and I think it fit the story. It was a bit jagged and jarring at first, but by the end of the novel it seemed more seamless. 

This is a novel that truly explores what it means to grow up and what it means to be a person. This is a novel of juxtaposition, of beauty and ugliness. Of honesty and stifled truths. Of being happy and simply just being. Aristotle and Dante provided a unique reading experience that I know I will revisit one day. My reaction at the very end was simply to close my eyes and say "Wow." 

My rating:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you so much for taking the time to read what I have to say and give your opinion on it. It really means a lot to me. And of course, I will do my best to return the favor. However, as easily distracted and scatter-brained as I am, please don't be offended if I forget to comment on your blog.