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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

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

Aristotle “Ari” is a fourteen year old loner with hardly any friends in school.  He has hardly any relationship with his father, and resents his family for acting as if his older brother who is in prison did not exist. Like many boys his age, Ari is unsure of his own identity and often feels that he has lived his life according to everyone’s rules and expectations. But his life takes an unexpected turn when he meets a peculiar boy who offers to teach him how to swim. Ari is taken aback by Dante’s optimistic view of life and admires the relationship he has with his father.  As their friendship grows, Dante helps Ari discover the mysteries of the universe as each find their true identity. There are several clues that foreshadow the resolution of the story as Ari often refers to his friend as beautiful and their interactions hint to a budding romantic relationship. This book explores the internal struggle among both teens as they try to come to terms with their feelings and worry about their family’s reactions. Saenz writing style correctly portrays not only a teen boy’s emotional state, but also the hate and violence that troubles our society. One of themes this book deals with making the bonds of a family stronger as Ari family learns to speak and share feelings that have long been pushed aside. Saenz does a great job a displaying how a friendship can turn romantic regardless of gender.  


Saenz, B. (2012). Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe. New York: Simon & Schuster BFYR.