By Robert Drinkwater
For this week, I will be reviewing Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of The Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz. Just like More Happy Than Not I found out about this book through book-tubes A Clockwork Reader. It was described as being a coming of age story about two boys in high school, Aristotle and Dante. I’ve always found myself drawn to coming of age stories, but I never know which ones to read, but after reading a large portion of positive reviews for this book, I decided to order it off of Amazon and delved right into once it arrived.
In short, this book is about two boys who form a close bond during the summer before Junior year of high school in the late eighties, in Texas. Dante and Aristotle are two very different people. Dante is an only child with a love for poetry. Aristotle, or Ari is the youngest of four, with a brother in prison, whom he barely remembers. The two meet one day at the gym when Dante offers to give Ari swimming lessons. Over the course of this novel we see their bond grow as they face several obstacles and challenges. At one point in the novel, Dante and his family move away to Chicago right before the summer ends, thus causing the duo to spend the school year apart. I found that this particular section in which they were apart really portrayed both of them growing as characters. They had spent the whole summer together and now they were separated.
In terms of a coming of age novel, this book delivers in that case because at the start of the novel, both of these characters are naive in a way, and over the course of events that happens, they change and develop as characters. As far as their friendship goes, I think that this book did an excellent job at portraying a strong bond. These two meet at the beginning, and they grow closer during the summer. Despite these Dante and Ari being polar opposites of each other, they were able to help each other grow as a result. One of the things I look for in a book is the relationships the characters have with each other, and I felt like it was done in a realistic way.
This book felt like an emotional roller coaster. There were times when I empathized with both of the characters, as well as some humorous parts mixed in. Overall, I felt like this novel did an excellent job at portraying a strong bond between two characters, as well as portraying a unique coming of age story.
Need more reading recommendations? Check out A Clockwork Reader: