Book Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

AristoleBook Title/Author: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Publisher/Year: February 21, 2012 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, GLBT, Contemporary
Series: N/A
Format: Softcover
Source: Owned

View on Goodreads


“A lyrical novel about family and friendship…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.” (Goodreads)




The Perfect Summer Read.

This book has well developed, likeable characters; short and sweet chapters; and a is a great paced story with a rare YA theme. The synopsis on the back of my copy did not do the book much justice (actually, it almost deterred me) so do not base your decision to read this book or not off the back’s explanation.

This is a coming-of-age story centered on the relationship between two young boys, Aristotle (Ari) and Dante, living in 1980’s Texas. Ari and Dante’s characters are loveable, relatable, and both have witty, smart voices that are unique to each character.

The pace of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is …

Well I cannot think of the right word, nothing that crosses my mind is a good fit.  The pace and the feeling that you get white reading Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe can be compared to the blissful, zen feeling you get hanging out with your best friend, enjoying each other’s company without having to exchange words.  The story is told in a fashion so simple and straight-forward in its writing style, making it a delight to read and hard to put down.

The book touches upon many of the popular YA themes, like: self identity, sexuality, insecurities, friendship; but there is something more to this book that intrigued me — the strong family moral and influence in the story. There is no shortage of YA novels that deal with family struggles and sad home-life situations; but Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe tells the story of two boys who both come from supportive, strong families. Yeah every family has their struggles and this is no exception, but it was a delight to read about how these teens actually liked and respected their families.


“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.”

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

“We all fight our own private wars.”

“Words are different when they lived inside you.”

“We’ve all been placed on this earth to discover out own path, and we will never be happy if we live someone else’s idea of life.”

“Sometimes people need to lie to themselves most of all”

“People [have become] to live on the earth, rather than within it.”

“You don’t write your life with words…you write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only what you do.”

“Your mind will believe comforting lies while also knowing the painful truths that make those lies necessary. And your mind will punish you for believing both.”


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