Reading Aristotle and Dante is like eating a great food. It’s so good you want to eat it all, but at the same time, you want to savor every bit of it. I’ve heard so much about this book, so obviously, I was scared. Because the hype can be bad, really, really bad. Thankfully, when I opened the book, and read the first few pages…I knew it was going to be quite a unique ride.
THE SLOW BUILDING OF TEENAGE HOOD
“I had a feeling there was something wrong with me. I guess I was a mystery even to myself.”
If you’re looking for a fast-paced plot that will leave you breathless and tugging your sheets at night, or some crazy teenagers doing pranks, I suggest you check out somewhere else, because Aristotle and Dante won’t satisfy your need for crazy actions. Please hear me out, though: this book might be slow-paced, but it’s building slowly. Little events are scattered all around the book, and it might not be big explosions or big life changing revelations, but, step by step, everything happening triggers the change of the main character, and his evolution. Just like it happens in real life, when you’re experimenting teenage hood.
CAREFUL: UNIQUE CHARACTER AHEAD
“The problem with my life was that it was someone else’s idea.”
Before everything, Aristotle and Dante is the story of life and of teenage hood. When I read the first few pages, I was kind of confused. Aristotle has quite a unique voice, and trust me, I’ve read my share of coming of age stories. But nothing quite like this one. At first, it was unsettling, strange, and it took me some time to get accustomed to this unique voice. Aristotle is really a one-of-a-kind character, but there’s one thing he is: authentic. Like any teenager, he’s just trying to find his place in the world, and struggling with what he wants, who he wants to be with, and just what is the point of this whole crazy ride that’s life. While it may be unsettling, at first, to get into his shoes, since I’m no teenage boy, once I did, well, it was impressive. There aren’t a lot of words, there isn’t a lot of action in this book, yet I have to say that, once you close it, it leaves you with quite an impression, like the words are still printed in your mind. Another thing I loved about that book, is how it shows us the building of a friendship, the bridges, the water making everything crumble down, then the storm is gone and it’s time to build a bridge again. Aristotle and Dante are meant to be, and not because of their names, but because, in the book, I slowly fell in love with their banters, little come-backs, the way they use to be with each other, how Dante read aloud books and how Aristotle just needed to save Dante’s life, and couldn’t stand to be reminded of it every single day. This is a book about teenage hood, growing up, but this is a book about building foundations with someone, of a relationship, with all the complex feelings, evolution, and everything that goes with it. And that’s beautiful.
DIVERSITY AND FAMILY
“I don’t always have to understand the people I love.”
There’s something I especially love seeing in young adult books, especially contemporary ones, it’s, family. Because we all have one, even if sometimes it’s complicated. If this is excusable for me not to mention it too much in fantasy books –because hey, who has time for that when you have to save the world, fight rebels or stuff like that-, it really isn’t in contemporary stories. In Aristotle and Dante, family IS there, and it’s more than just mentioned. Both of the main characters’ parents are there, interacting, being wonderfully awkward with their teenagers, hiding secrets, being part of the main plot. This story felt even more real to me, thanks to that. And, did I mention that it’s a book full of wonderful diversity? From their Mexican-American origins that are often mentioned in the story, to the LGBT side of the story, well, it was just a wonderful book that seemed so real.
Aristotle and Dante tells you the story of growing up, in such a simple and poetic way that it will take you away. With quite a unique voice, diverse characters and a slow but definitely worth-it ride, this book is worth reading for all of you lovers of coming-of-age stories.
Final rating: 4 drops!
Did you read Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of the Universe? WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?! Do you want to read it? Did you have SO MANY FEELS? Share your thoughts in comments!
Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of The Universe, Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, February 21st 2012.
This Printz Honor Book is a “tender, honest exploration of identity” (Publishers Weekly) that distills lyrical truths 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