Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Hardcover | February 21, 2012

byBenjamin Alire Saenz

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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.

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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Hardcover | February 21, 2012
In stock online Available in stores
$21.43 online $26.99 (save 20%)

From the Publisher

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 ...

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...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:368 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 1.2 inPublished:February 21, 2012Publisher:Simon & Schuster Books for Young ReadersLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1442408928

ISBN - 13:9781442408920

Appropriate for ages: 12

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Customer Reviews of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe


Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful Coming of Age Story There has been a lot of recent hype in the book reviewing community surrounding Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe even though it came out in 2012. This book has won quite a few awards and is extremely well received. After seeing an endless amount of praise from some of my favourite book reviewers and booktubers, I decided that I wanted to give this book a shot and I’m really glad that I did. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is a beautifully written coming of age story shared by two teenaged boys who are just trying to discover who they are and who they want to be as they are growing up. This story is very simple, clean, pure and fast paced. There wasn’t even one moment that felt like a filler. As previously experienced, an over-hyped book has been a bit of a dangerous territory for me. I end up feeling really excited to get into a novel based on all of the raving reviews only to end up feeling a little underwhelmed. That was not the case with Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. This novel deserves all of the attention and praise that it is receiving. I read through this book really quickly, and although that means that I was thoroughly enjoying the story, I did not want it to end. What I like about well written coming of age stories is that they don’t need a lot of action or dramatic events, it’s just a realistic depiction of life. I loved both Aristotle and Dante as characters and how they were both so different, yet the same. Aristotle, our narrator, is very quiet and introverted. He keeps his thoughts to himself and usually hides what he’s thinking from the people he interacts with. He tends to contemplate life more in his mind rather than out loud. Dante on the other hand, is big on talking and interacting out loud. He doesn’t keep anything hidden. Although they have different personalities, both boys know that they are different somehow and that they don’t really fit in with society. They compliment one another and thus a great friendship is born. When I first heard about this novel and up until I started reading it, I didn’t realize it had LGBTQ themes. I’m really glad that it did as it’s hard to find stories like this one that are more deep and real rather than campy and playful. I feel like a lot of people in the LGBTQ community could probably relate more to this story because of its realistic nature. I could definitely see this story as a movie, but definitely in the independent movie community. Some of my favourite films are indie movies and I can see a story like Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe being really well received as an indie film. Overall, this is the perfect book for you if you are looking for something that is beautifully and lyrically written, realistic and simple. This story is filled with beautiful quotes and I will leave you with one more to end this review.
Date published: 2015-04-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lovely novel! Aristotle has the type of personality you know that will confuse you. He'll say one thing and think the opposite. He's a walking contradiction. When he saves his best friend Dante's life, he realizes that friendship is probably one of the most important things in a boy's life. Love the family dynamics! There was so much to like. Aristotle's mom who is fiercely protective of her only son. His dad who shows how much he cares in his actions. Dante's parents who love him so much and treat him just like an adult. Truly affectionate, Dante's dad was one of my favourite characters. He seemed so sweet and kind and Aristotle could see he was being genuine as well. Not only do we get to see a beautiful family relationship but a friendship as well. Probably one of the best fictional friendships after the Three Harry Potter kids. Aristotle and Dante are both so different but they're also the same. What I found the most meaningful about these characters was their friendship. How loyal and kind and protective they were of each other. There's a known tension that we see and there are clues but it's never finally revealed until the end. It reminded me of a cute movie where we get to see the story finished and all the problems solved. One of my favourite reads of the year, <em>Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe</em> made me laugh, cry and giggle all at the same time. Family and friendship are just important and we get to see it all go down in this book. Pick this one up for the beautiful writing and the cute characters, you won't regret it.
Date published: 2014-12-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fanfiction For someone who loves reading and writing fan fiction I gotta say I didn't need to do either for this book. Usually after I finish a book, even something as legendary as Harry Potter, I feel that the story could be better in someone ways or that there are lose ends yet to be tied. But this book was complete with a bow on top. The cover art is amazing and the writing style makes it hard for you to put the book down until you have finished it. It has now become the one book I keep at my bedside to look back to for life lessons. I did not regret buying it and neither will you. 
Date published: 2014-03-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Inspiring, beautiful and heartbreaking. Yesterday I posted about Golden Boy, one of the best books I’ve read this year. This is another one of my favourites. I swear – it was totally a coincidence that the posts ended up back to back. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is the story of two unique, but totally relatable boys. Ari. A quiet, average Mexican-American boy. His older brother is in jail and he feels the weight of the pressure from his parents to be a “good boy.” He’s reserved and isn’t a big sharer. Except when it comes to his best friend, Dante. Dante on the other hand is full of life and full of questions. Always asking why and trying to learn everything he can. Fiercely loyal and guided by his emotions. You wouldn’t think they would be friends. But they compliment each other so well! This is a fantastic book about the power of friendship. Both boys challenge each other. Because they have different personalities and home lives they force each other to look at the world in different ways and take risks they otherwise wouldn’t. And I really appreciated that it wasn’t always easy to be friends with one another. Every friendship is going to have its ups and downs no matter how close you are. Ari and Dante have to work at maintaining their friendship but in the end I think it’s worth it. They end up better people – and better friends – on the other side. It’s not just the friendship that makes this story special, but the role of family as well. Both Ari and Dante have strong relationships with both of their parents – though very distinctive relationships. I really liked that you could feel the love in both households. So many YA books have absent parents or neglectful parents so it was nice to see more positive familial relationships. And it was nice to see different representations of how families might interact with one another (Dante’s more affection family vs Ari’s more quiet household). Esentially this book is about two boys in that time of life between being children and men. They’re having a bit of identity crisis, gaining more responsibility as the book goes on, but not always able to cope effectively with these changes. A lot of this books raises questions of identity. Their age. Their sexual orientation. Their ethnicity. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is a story of coming to terms with yourself and embracing love in all its forms. It’s an absolutely beautiful book with simple but touching prose. If you’re like me and you like to mark/sticky note your favourite passages make sure you have lots of Post-Its ready when you start reading. Some noteable examples: “Words were different when they lived inside of you.” “Another secret of the universe: Sometimes pain was like a storm that came out of nowhere. The clearest summer could end in a downpour. Could end in lightning and thunder.” “And it seemed to me that Dante’s face was a map of the world. A world without any darkness.” Recommendation: I highly recommend this book to all readers. Young and old alike. Beautiful prose, fantastic characters, universal themes. What’s not to love?
Date published: 2013-07-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Discover the Universe with these Kids, You Won't Be Sorry I'm not exactly sure why, or when it happened, but about halfway through reading this book I decided I never wanted it to end. I didn't notice the moment when the characters became not only real to me but beloved --I can't really remember loving every single character in a book quite this much-- or when the writing became a way I wanted to see my own world, but both happened. Subtle, poetic, touching, beautiful, this is a fantastic book that continues to live inside me like a friend weeks after I've read it. I didn't even want to write a review because I wasn't sure how to do justice to Ari and Dante; finally, I just decided to say exactly what I felt. Worth reading and rereading.
Date published: 2013-07-13

Extra Content

Read from the Book

One ONE SUMMER NIGHT I FELL ASLEEP, HOPING THE WORLD would be different when I woke. In the morning, when I opened my eyes, the world was the same. I threw off the sheets and lay there as the heat poured in through my open window. My hand reached for the dial on the radio. “Alone” was playing. Crap, “Alone,” a song by a group called Heart. Not my favorite song. Not my favorite group. Not my favorite topic. “You don’t know how long . . .” I was fifteen. I was bored. I was miserable. As far as I was concerned, the sun could have melted the blue right off the sky. Then the sky could be as miserable as I was. The DJ was saying annoying, obvious things like, “It’s summer! It’s hot out there!” And then he put on that retro Lone Ranger tune, something he liked to play every morning because he thought it was a hip way to wake up the world. “Hi-yo, Silver!” Who hired this guy? He was killing me. I think that as we listened to the William Tell Overture, we were supposed to be imagining the Lone Ranger and Tonto riding their horses through the desert. Maybe someone should have told that guy that we all weren’t ten-year-olds anymore. “Hi-yo, Silver!” Crap. The DJ’s voice was on the airwaves again: “Wake up, El Paso! It’s Monday, June fifteenth, 1987! 1987! Can you believe it? And a big ‘Happy Birthday’ goes out to Waylon Jennings, who’s fifty years old today!” Waylon Jennings? This was a rock station, dammit! But then he said something that hinted at the fact that he might have a brain. He told the story about how Waylon Jennings had survived the 1959 plane crash that killed Buddy Holly and Richie Valens. On that note, he put on the remake of “La Bamba” by Los Lobos. “La Bamba.” I could cope with that. I tapped my bare feet on the wood floor. As I nodded my head to the beat, I started wondering what had gone through Richie Valens’s head before the plane crashed into the unforgiving ground. Hey, Buddy! The music’s over. For the music to be over so soon. For the music to be over when it had just begun. That was really sad. © 2012 Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Editorial Reviews

"I’m absolutely blown away. This is Saenz's best work by far...It’s a beautiful story, so beautifully told and so psychologically acute! Both Ari and Dante are simply great characters who will live on in my memory. Everything about the book is absolutely pitch perfect...It’s already my favorite book of the year!"