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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe Paperback – 1 Mar 2013


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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: ATRIA BOOKS; Reprint edition (1 Mar. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442408936
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442408937
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.5 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Benjamin Alire Sáenz is an American Book Award-winning author of poetry and prose for adults and teens. His first novel for young adults, Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood was an ALA Top Ten Book for Young Adults and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His second novel for teens, He Forgot to Say Goodbye won the Tomas Rivera Mexican American Children's Book Award and the Southwest Books Award (Border Regional Librarians Association) and was a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age. A former Wallace E. Stegner Fellow in poetry, Sáenz is a professor in the creative writing department at University of Texas, El Paso.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By The Bookette on 22 Mar. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is a coming of age story set in El Paso, Texas in the late 1980s. It's a story of a fifteen year old boy who wants to find out who he is but doesn't really know where to start. I'm more than a little bit in love with this book. It's almost divine.

Aristotle, known generally as Ari, is miserable. Its summer and he doesn't have any friends. He's the sort of character who chooses to be aloof and distant from people. He doesn't seem to want any friends. But one morning he goes swimming and meets Dante Quintana. Dante offers to teach Ari to swim and perhaps because they share "weighty" names or perhaps because of Dante's laugh, Ari accepts. It's the beginning of a friendship which fills the book.

There is drama in this book. Great big, undeniably huge plot turns. I don't want to give too much away about those but for a book which is essentially about getting to the heart of a character, it really does surprise you with action. That being so, it is a reflective book. Ari succumbs to bouts of melancholy. He's in limbo. He's no longer a boy but not yet a man. He lacks control of in life - his mother is often telling him what he should be doing. He still has to go to school and at a later stage he gets a job. He's also divided by cultures - he's Mexican living in America and although Ari feels he is truly Mexican, Dante is constantly seeking to be more so.

This novel is in part about growing into the person you want to be or rather realising who you are and being happy about it. But it's also about communication. Ari's father is a war veteran and keeps his son at a painful distance. Ari desperately wants to know more about his father and to share his pain.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lauren James on 14 Aug. 2014
Format: Paperback
This book is beautifully written, and a great portrayal of someone who doesn’t want to admit their own sexuality to themselves, even when it hurts others.

Aristotle’s relationship with his brother and Dante really bring the story to life, and the progression from friendship to something more is realistically done.

At times painful to read, this is a great story of love of all kinds.

4/5 stars
Review posted at http://lgbt-ya.tumblr.com
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Format: Paperback
This was a beautiful coming of age story. I didn't know what this story was really about (other than the suggested plot from the title) but I had seen a lot of people raving about this book and the cover was beautiful and so I picked it up and gave it a try.

I loved it.

There was the small downside of the dialogue being repetitive at times, but other than that, it was amazing.

Ari is a loner. He doesn't have friends, he doesn't see why he needs them. He feels like there's something different about him, he's not like the other boys. His father was in the Vietnam war and is closed off, he doesn't really talk to Ari and the boy finds it frustrating. While at the pool one day, Ari meets Dante - who offers to teach him how to swim. Their friendship is quickly formed and this causes Ari to discover things about himself that he'd never known before.

I think it's a sweet tale about Ari finding himself and having the confidence to be himself. The differences between Ari and Dante's personalities are huge, and yet they get along so well. It's heart-warming. There were a few instances in the story which shocked me, such tragic events pulling the boys apart.

Ari was a bit of a bother at times, it was a little infuriating for him to constantly shut down on what was fairly obvious to me as a reader. His feelings for Dante were so obvious, I wondered how he had taken such a long time to notice and accept it.

I really enjoyed this story, it was something different. The more easy-going pace was a nice change for me. A beautiful story about accepting who you are.
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Format: Paperback
I thought I was going to really like this book. It had been lingering on my 'to read' shelf, along with all the other books that I was going to buy just as soon as my pay came in, for months, and I was so excited to read it.

Boy, was I disappointed. For so many reasons, this book just really, really didn't do it for me.

First of all, the dialogue was atrocious. It was really stilted and artificial. And hey, I don't usually have a problem with that; novels are works of fiction, constructs, and I don't mind setting aside realism for stylistics. I do have a problem with it, however, when this comes at a detriment to the novel. The most prevalent dialogue no-no in this book was the constant unnecessary repetition. Every three pages or so, a character would say something to another character and the character would repeat it. For example (paraphrasing the surrounding verbs but the speech is ad verbatim):

'"It's too bad," I said.
"Too bad," said Suzy.
"Too bad," said Gina.
Too bad.'

At first, I thought it was just the narrator who spoke like this, and that it was maybe just an interesting dialectal quirk. Maybe it said something about the nature of his character, that he held onto other people's things and made them his own. And then I realised that it wasn't just him. Every character did it. Every single one. All the time. It got to the point where I just groaned out loud whenever I saw it happen.

Another issue was that the two main characters constantly refer to each other by name in speech when you just wouldn't. There was one moment when Ari says three lines of speech to Dante, and he uses his name in every single sentence. "_____, Dante." "______, Dante." "Dante, ________".
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