Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Release Date: February 21, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
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.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is a sweet, complex, poignant story of two fifteen-year-old boys and their connection to each other. This is a coming of age that highlights the questions we all had when we were growing up, questions about people and our parents, about words and actions, about family and love.
Ari and Dante work so well in this book, as characters and as friends, as searchers for answers. They both have their quirks and their questions, their way of seeing the world and wondering why it works like that. It's more that Ari is more street smart while Dante is more book smart. It's not that they have close to nothing in common. It's that they both have questions, questions about the world, why parents don't talk about certain things and why people act the way they do, and it's the way they search the world they know for answers that defines who they will become.
The summer in which they meet becomes a summer of discovery, of growth, but what about when the summer ends? What about the rest of the year? How much more will they both discover about the world and how complicated it is?
What are the secrets of the universe? I imagine you could study for decades upon decades and barely scratch the surface of what makes us tick. What makes us human, what makes our parents our parents, what makes sparrows and dogs, what makes dreams and stars. What makes everything.
The prose is so simple but so powerful and completely without artifice. This is the guileless voice of a boy and his unusual friend hoping to understand the world and where they fit into it, and the journey they go on is one not to be missed.
(I borrowed a copy of this book from the library.)