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LGBTQ Book Resources East Library: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe


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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets
of the Universe

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Book Reviews

Kirkus Reviews:

Starred Review */ A boring summer stretches ahead of Ari, who at 15 feels hemmed in by a life filled with rules and family secrets. He doesn't know why his older brother is in prison, since his parents and adult sisters refuse to talk about it. His father also keeps his experience in Vietnam locked up inside. On a whim, Ari heads to the town swimming pool, where a boy he's never met offers to teach him to swim. Ari, a loner who's good in a fight, is caught off guard by the self-assured, artistic Dante. The two develop an easy friendship­, ribbing each other about who is more Mexican, discussing life's big questions, and wondering when they'll be old enough to take on the world. An accident near the end of summer complicates their friendship while bringing their families closer. Sáenz's interplay of poetic and ordinary speech beautifully captures this transitional time: " 'That's a very Dante question,' I said. 'That's a very Ari answer,' he said.… For a few minutes I wished that Danteand I lived in the universe of boys instead of the universe of almost-men." Plot elements come together at the midpoint as Ari, adding up the parts of his life, begins to define himself. Meticulous pacing and finely nuanced characters underpin the author's gift for affecting prose that illuminates the struggles within relationships. 


Fifteen-year-old Ari Mendoza is an angry loner with a brother in prison, but when he meets Dante and they become friends, Ari starts to ask questions about himself, his parents, and his family that he has never asked before.

Read the first few lines...

"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."

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