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on 22 March 2013
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. Ari also wants to speak about his older brother who is not around. But neither his mother nor father is willing to do so. In contrast to this fragile code of silence, is Dante. Dante who never shuts up, who is stubborn as hell, who lives with his heart on his face, who is impulsive and wonderfully alive.The relationship between the two boys is touching. It's complicated but it's meaningful.

The chapters of this book are really short. I read this book in two days and I am so glad that I bought it. The title captured my attention and it won an award in the US recently so I figured it was worth taking a chance on it. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is a rewarding, heart-warming read. The writing is exquisite. Yes, I am definitely more than a little in love with this book. I can't wait to read something else by Benjamin Alire Sáenz.
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on 21 December 2016
Aristotle is 15 and mad as hell at anything and everything, he enjoys being a loner and isn’t that fond of his mom and dad. Dante is the light to Aristotle’s dark, he loves everything, is well liked and openly states that he loves his parents. They meet at the swimming pool and friendship begins.
The book is easy to get absorbed in, I also listened to parts and Lin-Manuel’s voice brings to life these young Mexican boys, you can almost imagine them being real life people. It brings together so many themes seamlessly from growing up, family, mental health and LGBQ, and woven a perfect story out of it.
Saenz has developed 2 main characters that you fall in love with and want the best for, their friendship is such a key factor in the book and they influence each other positively. The act that binded Aristotle and Dante together was so real you could visualise it happening.
The other positive aspect of the book is the 2 sets of parents. Aristotle’s parents although they have flaws and secrets themselves, are always there for Ari no matter what and want him to be happy and simply to have friends. Dante’s parents are accepting both of Dante and Ari and their love shines through the book.
I loved this book and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a young adult read about growing up with some LGBQ themes.
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on 29 October 2016
This novel follows a teenage boy named Aristotle (who goes by Ari for short) and how he discovers himself as a person. He has never had any real friends, that is until he meets Dante, and they develop a tight friendship.

I enjoyed this book, but I didn't absolutely love it. I expect this book was still just too overhyped for me as I had expected something much more from this. I had a love hate relationship with the characters, and this is where many of my problems with this story started. First off, I didn't like Ari for the first two thirds of the novel. I found him irritating, immature (in comparison to Dante) and just totally lacking any likeable features. He acts like the world owes him something and I found it hard not to imagine him as just some spoilt little brat. This did change towards the end of the book, which was nice to see as I enjoyed watching his character develop. I didn't totally buy his character change though, simply because his parents and Dante's parents seemed to push him into who he was, and he just suddenly jumped and accepted their view and went along with it, as if everything was all now puppies and rainbows.

Now for what I liked about this novel, of which there are many things. First of all, I absolutely adored Dante and I'm not sure what he saw in Ari to be honest. Dante is just an adorable character, I loved reading about him as his personality really shined. Dante is that gay best friend that I'd love to have in my life.

I also really enjoyed reading about Legs, Dante's family and Ari's family. It was so refreshing to read a book that had such an extensive family life portrayal in it. I love Ari's mum and dad, and found it interesting to learn about all their family secrets and what made them the way they are.

Everything felt so rounded off beautifully in this story, and I love it when there are no loose ends. I did find the ending a little too rushed though.

This book covers LGBT topics in a really great way, and I loved the whole message behind the narrative, which I believe puts out such a strong positive message to people who read this book. I also love how race was discussed on a regular basis, though I think this could have perhaps been developed a little more.

Finally, the chapters in this book are wonderfully short. I enjoy books with short chapters as I feel like I'm making progress so much faster. I do think that this made the story feel a little too choppy at times though. Also, I would have loved to also get the story from Dante's perspective as I think this could have really developed the novel more and made it even more interesting and insightful.

Overall, this is a wonderful book that I highly recommend to everyone. I do think you should exercise caution though, over the fact that this book is just too overhyped.
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on 15 December 2017
I listened to this book. And I loved it! First of all, I loved the Audible version of it. I couldn't stop listening all day. I adored Aristotle and Dante as characters. They are so charming in different ways.
This is a very easy, charming book about 2 15 years old boys who are very good friends and the adventures they go through. They are really different from each other, but at the same time they are so loyal to each other, recognizing and appreciating their differences and what they love about each other. I thought it was a very heartwarming story reminding us real love and friendship. So, I would definitely recommend reading it. Or listening if you have Audible. It was fantastic!
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on 22 February 2017
Aristotle and Dante are as different as two boys can be except for the fact they are both kind of loners. When they meet at a swimming pool one summer they begin a friendship that will last a life time.

SPECTACULARLY GORGEOUS!! Ummm can you tell I like this book? It was such a heart warming book that I wanted to read it all over again as soon as I finished it. Ari and Dante are both Mexican teens living in Texas. They meet when they are fifteen and we get to read about them basically becoming young men and discovering the world around them and who they are. Ari is a complete introvert with anger over not knowing his brother and the secrets his parents have kept from him. Whilst Dante is optimistic even when the world throws darkness at him. They bring the best out of each other and you can’t help but root for both of them throughout. I’m not going into too detail but the characters were beautiful, the plot was beautiful and the emotions are real! READ IT!!!!
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on 8 June 2017
Wasn't sure what to expect when I bought this as it was a whim purchase. A few pages in and I was starting to regret the purchase but I ploughed on and literally over the next few chapters I fell in love with the characters and writing style. The short chapters make it easy to flick through, and I must admit I cried quite a few times reading this, what a tearjerker! Absolutely loved it, it'll be one I re-read year after year. Thank you to the author for this beautiful book <3
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on 8 May 2017
The voice of the narrator, Ari, is very real and raw, but with a lyricism that lifts the story beyond itself. He tells a beautiful coming-of-age narrative that shows him learning to accept himself and mature in his relationship with his parents and peers.
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on 6 May 2016
I really did not expect to like this book never mind love it as I do. Aristotle was such a fantastically engaging protagonist: I adored his thought processes and the way he articulated his feelings. I was so prepared for this book to come across as pretentious--for it to be try-hard and obnoxious--that relating to Ari as I did kind of shocked me. Everything about Aristotle and this story is perfect.

If you're looking for a story which is heart wrenching and true I wholeheartedly recommend this! You will laugh and cry and fall in love with Ari. Ari's interactions with his family and friends (and of course Dante!) were all wonderful. His attitude and perspective towards life really resonated with me and I hope I can read more books with such a unique narrative voice. Every single word felt necessary and although I would have loved for the book to never end it ends in a way I'm more than happy with.

I can't even begin to explain how thoroughly I enjoyed this book. Once I picked it up I couldn't put it down until it was done. When it was done? I felt overwhelmed by how much I cared for Ari and his proud I was of him.
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on 4 June 2017
So I read this pretty quickly and I'm not sure what I think.
It's very.... indie.
I like the story. The character development but I read and thought, this isn't going anywhere. I wasn't shocked or excited by any parts. Predictable and all about the feelings....
Yer, good but not mind blowing like I'd been lead to believe.
Full of quotes that instergam would have in floral, water colours.
I grotto the end and thought. "Is that it?"
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on 1 June 2016
This book is a total gem, a nostalgic and cosy look-back at more simple, innocent times we had before youth was taken over by digital and social media. Two young people fall in love (but don't know it) amid the backdrop of a treacly-sweet American town reminiscent of classics such as Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. It's the heady-heat of the 80's summers and the endearing characters that make this book a must read for all contemporary fiction fans; read it and tell your friends to read it, it'll leave you hopeful that love is true and real.
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