Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

They say, don’t judge a book by its cover. But then there are exceptions to everything! Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe written by Benjamin Alire Sáenz is a beautiful book. I mean the cover page is a marvel. And that’s why I picked the book. Looking at the font and design coupled with the title itself, I was hoping to read a very Paulo Coelho-ish rendition of something magical. I was hoping to read about the secrets, the universe and the journey of self-discovery written in a poetic way, happening in a surreal world. But then, what awaited me across the 350 odd pages was a simple and realistic portrayal of Aristotle and Dante’s friendships, their own inner struggles, and inhibitions in a beautiful way. Beauty was everywhere. In words. In the characters and their character arcs. The inner struggles and the mediums they choose to overcome their demons. And the beauty in it didn’t seem surreal or unattainable; instead it was relatable. That’s where the book wins! In world that is filled with negativity, this is a book that emanates positive vibes. Certainly not that of an ideal world or utopian dream. But it is about how positivity can be seen in everything and be spread with love – something that is universal yet compromised due to which humanity is forced to take the backseat and pride, ego, prejudices, etc. reign.



The book is based on LGBT and one of the most positive ones around. While Aristotle and Dante struggle to recognize and try to come in terms with their identity and sexual orientation, their parents support them. They see their children as fellow human beings with compassion and respect. They support their children and explicitly say that they care for their children and accept them the way they are as long as they are good-hearted, decent and loving. Such a perspective is so overwhelming. Maybe its really time to grow beyond all the discriminations. “Normal” as they say is very subjective. So why care defining it or fear defying it.

PS: I am glad that Aristotle and Dante found each other and that they have such amazingly supportive parents (I don’t mean perfect because that’s very subjective again). I so wish that the world is filled with such people and with such people only.


5/5 (No reason to not like it!)

Recommended to the parents, teenagers, and other adults!

Details of the Book

No. of Pages    : 384 pages

ISBN               : ISBN-101442408936 and ISBN-13: 978-1442408937

Language         : English

From the book blurb

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. 


Benjamin Alire Sáenz is an author of poetry and prose for adults and teens. He is the winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the American Book Award for his books for adults. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe was a Printz Honor Book, the Stonewall Award winner, the Pura Belpre Award winner, the Lambda Literary Award winner, and a finalist for the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award. His first novel for teens, 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 book for teens, He Forgot to Say Goodbye, won the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award, the Southwest Book Award, and was named a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age. He teaches creative writing at the University of Texas, El Paso.

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