Review: “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

4.5 tp

~o~Goodreads Synopsis~o~

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.


“Do you think we’ll ever discover all the secrets of the universe?”

I’m a mess right now. This was so good! (That’s my new favorite phrase, I’ve been using it too much lately. That’s not a bad thing though). I am in the middle of a crisis guys. I think I’m falling in love… with contemporaries. It just happened, okay? It happened because of books like this.

I loved the writing style of this book. It was simple in a good way. No extra description, not filled with metaphors and imagery, nothing too complicated but it felt real.

Both Ari and Dante are wonderful characters. They’re both kind of a loner but in different ways.

Ari was constantly plagued by thoughts of his older brother who was in prison. His parents never talked about him. Ari’s father is a war veteran of the Vietnam war and he is a secluded person who doesn’t like to talk about his life. Ari’s relationship with his mother is one of the best parts of the book though. She understands him and she knows how to get him to talk even though Ari would love to do anything but.

“I’m crazy about my mom and dad.”

Dante’s parents were another high point of the books. That is about the sweetest thing anyone could ever say. How many teenagers would ever admit that they’re crazy about their parents?  His parents are very sweet and they’re both hilarious (his dad especially).

I LOVED this book and the only reason I’m not giving it five stars is because I found a few typos that bothered me. Other than that, it’s definitely five stars worthy.

~o~Spoiler Alert~o~

I’m just going to put a bunch of my favorite quotes from the book down here because some of the lines were just fantastic.

“Words were different when they lived inside of you.”

“To be careful with people and with words was a rare and beautiful thing.”

“This is my problem. I want other people to tell me how they feel. But I’m not so sure I want to return the favor.”  (<— it’s scary how much I could relate to Ari at certain points).

“One of the secrets of the universe was that our instincts were sometimes stronger than our minds.”

“You can’t make anyone be an adult. Especially an adult.”

“Words were not things you could control. Not always.”

“Talking to myself in my journal qualified as talking to someone my own age.”  (<— my point exactly).

“I’m not into all this academic stuff. Too much analysis. What ever happened to reading a book because you liked it?” (<– agree completely).

4 thoughts on “Review: “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

  1. I’m glad you liked this novel. And there’s nothing wrong with falling in love with contemporaries; there are some undoubtedly good contemporaries out there. I really loved that last quote, it’s so true.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I am realizing that now, contemporary authors are stepping further and further back from cheesy, gaggy romances which is fantastic. I know! If only English teachers understood.


  2. I’m glad you were able to enjoy this read! I think the writing style was one of the best things about it for me as well. It just flowed so well and I think the theme and depiction of family – as well as the two different kinds of families – was shown brilliantly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely agree! The writing was simple but elegant and is one of the main reasons this book works so well. The two families are both very similar and very different. I loved how supportive both families were of their sons.

      Liked by 1 person

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