Book Review – Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

You can see the truth if you look hard enough…

 Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, GLBT

No. of pages: 368

From Goodreads:

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.

Page border by Casey Carlisle

I was attracted to this novel because of the numerous recommendations from friends and BookTubers; in addition to it having won many literary awards, and while it didn’t blow my mind, it was a wonderful read.

Aristotle and Dante embody the innocence of youth, with their uncoloured view of the wider world. That then slowly gets deconstructed as they grow and are exposed to other people and their opinions. Both boys need to find themselves, make up their own minds while blundering through this thing called life.

The tension between the two main characters is fantastic, as is how their friendship grows. It is understated and lyrical. ‘Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe’ captures that essence of growing up and making a realisation of something that always was – and in some cases – blaringly obvious. This aspect of the novel is what really had me silently cheering. I have not read another book that has grasped this concept so concisely.

However, ultimately the book felt a little flat for me. Maybe because I enjoy a more angsty, or adventure based story. ‘Aristotle and Dante’ is like the whisper that can move mountains. So it’s personal preference of the overall experience I’m basing my rating on – not content alone.

The symbolism was beautiful, but the narration pulled from its impact. I did like how much of the book was a description of accounts of their lives, their feelings – all without analysis, but upon completion you can see the context of every chapter, what it all meant and how it built to the crescendo. It was understated and clever. This novel is so much better with hindsight.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe’ is poetic. Not only because of the melodic narrative, but also because of the undercurrent behind the words. The story of two souls.

Highly recommended – I can see how readers can take a lot from this novel.

Overall feeling: Gentile and warming like the rays of the sun

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

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