ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE | Benjamin Alire Saenz

Aristotle and Dante

 

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.

This month (May), the book club’s theme for its book discussion was Young Adult. The selected book  was Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz. This was my first time to read a book by this author and as is my habit, I didn’t read any reviews about the book before I read it. My avoidance of reviews was due to my fear of spoilers and because of this, I read the book without any expectations except the usual fare in YA books — teenage angst, the struggle to belong, and finding oneself, among others.

So, I wasn’t really surprised when I read about Ari’s complaints about his life and his parents. His fears and anger are understandable. I commiserated with him in his loneliness and confusion. And so when he met Dante and they immediately hit it off, I cheered for him. I cheered for their friendship. You see, I really believe that intimate friendships are necessary to survive teenage life. That, and of course, a loving and supportive parents, which Ari and Dante definitely have. The acceptance of peers and the sense of belonging are issues that most teens struggle with and having a healthy support system can certainly address the angst.

It seems that I was reading Ari’s journal while reading the book. The story was told in his POV and there were indeed journal entries written by Ari which were included. Ari was a very confused boy. Dante, on the other hand, seemed sure of himself. Their personalities jived really well.

If I were to pick my most favorite character, I would choose Ari’s Dad. Or any of the boys’ parents. Or all of their parents. It’s inspiring to see parents who strive to be parents instead of parents who strive to be cool, and in the process, they become cool parents.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is very well-written. It is a coming-of-age story about two boys who are looking for meaning about how it is to be a man — a person, and how they eventually discover the secrets about themselves and the courage it takes to love.  There is really nothing new in this book as a YA read. I must say, though, that I enjoyed reading my other random YA reads (the YA read-athon of the month, I must say) that happened during the entire month than this one.

***

My Rating: 2.5 stars rounded off to 3/5

TFG Book of the Month for May 2015.

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