Wednesday, December 7, 2016

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

Image from Amazon.com
I'm a sucker for fun covers. It was the cover of this book-- and maybe all of the awards plastered on it-- that made me want to read it at first. It was the story and the characters that forced me to stick around.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is about two boys growing up in very different families. Ari's brother is in prison, and his dad still struggles with the things that he witnessed during the Vietnam War. Dante's obsessed with knowledge and learning, and that's probably the result of his very educated parents. Even though both boys are loaners in their own ways, when the they meet, they immediately become friends.

Shortly after they become friends, Ari and Dante are involved in a horrible accident. This accident, along with the things that Ari continues to learn about Dante and himself, could strengthen or destroy the two friends. In the end, it's a story about friendship, courage, family, and love.

Overall, I'd give this book a 5 out of 5 stars. It's vivid descriptions and heart-wrenching conflicts make it difficult to put down. Aristotle and Dante is clearly deserving of its Stonewall (for authors writing about LGBTQ topics) and Pura Belpre Awards (for Latina and Latino authors), and it certainly lets the readers read and learn from a perspective that may be very different than their own.

I would say, however, that this book would be best for more mature readers who are ready to read about the type of complex relationships and changes that can happen in the early high school years.

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