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

Book Review

Ari doesn’t know who he is as a person. Forever questioning the mysteries and unpredicatablities of his surroundings, along with the inner enveavours to interpret his own emotions and mental fiends. Dante doen’t share many similarites with Ari. Finding solace in tranquil leisurely activities such as drawing and reading for the sheer fun of it, Dante appears to have life interpreted. Despite their obvious variances, after meeting at the swimming pool, the pair develop a unique and important friendship. Pushed to limits first unforseen, the companions are tested against obstacles established by the undefinable universe and the entanglements of growing up.

We are introduced to two beautifully diverse and profound personas, both of which grow tremendously through the length of this delightfully engaging novel. They do this in physical – as it is told across the time span of two years – as well as mental and phycological ways, all of which are explored in wonderful depth and ingenious scrutiny. Ari begins as a fifteen year old teenager, seemingly innocent yet extraordinarily aware of what he does and doesn’t know about his livelihood. Somewhat cynical and pessimistic, overflowing with questions and queries regarding the entirety of his world. From interrogating the meaning behind one’s laughter to the uncomfortable perception of typical male mannerisms. Throughout, he has an undeniable impression that he doesn’t belong, with a lacking of friendly relationships merited on account of the walls he’s built around himself, never allowing a single individual to get into his thoughts. He’s a incredibly interesting and identifiable in unique and fascinating ways that distinguish him apart from other YA protagonists, with high levels of ignorant intellect and self-doubt.

“I had a feeling there was something wrong with me. I guess I was a mystery even to myself. That sucked. I had serious problems.”

He’s stubborn when his loving parents attempt to make him open up, and even when offered intimacy and affection, he can be quick to dismiss it. Yet, there is a persistent sense of devotion and gratitude that he doesn’t show physically or even through his formulated reasonings, at least not at first. His flippant thoughts undergo many alterations and adjustments, signs of his adolescent discoveries as he flourishes into a young man. Not afraid to voice his opinions, Ari’s forthright approach may concern his closest associations but that doesn’t falter his robust persona as an individual. As an audience we are exposed to his contemplations, which involves unveiling both the disorientated, uncertain assumptions in addition to pure unembellished thought processes. Consequently, we are able to consider Ari’s character from an abundance of angles and interesting circumstances.

“All I knew is that my father was sad. I hated that he was sad. It made me sad too. I didn’t like sad.”

Becoming acquainted with Dante brought more questions into Ari’s life. With a more uniquely optimistic perspective, Dante gives the impression of a conflicting disposition from our protagonist. Their friendship that is formed is a beautifully complex yet brilliant portrayal of companionship, which both of them really needed. Despite Ari’s unresponsive behaviour to Dante’s affection, there is still an evident bond between the two that never weakens, resisting all odds against them. This kind of rare and exclusive coalition provides encouragement and drive for both individuals and results in a love so pure and wonderful.

“‘Someday, I’m going to discover all the secrets of the universe.”‘

This tremendously incredible narrative providing a thrilling tale of love, self-discovery, family and friendship, in a way that captivates and encourages a whole range of emotions for the reader. Brilliantly diverse and fascinating characters, each with distinctive, enchanting personas and back stories. A truly enjoyable and absorbing story, promoting the importance of love and finding your way through life, in defiance of misfortunes.

source: Goodreads

Book Information:

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

Published: 2012 by Simon & Schuster Books


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