Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe: A book review 


Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Series: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe #1

Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA, Romance, Young Adult

Source: Paperback

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Publication date: February 21st 2012

Page count: 359

Goodreads description

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.


Hey there! So for this review I’m going to be discussing Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. I’m going to confess without any preambles that I absolutely loved this book. I read it in the course of four days, but if it weren’t for errands I would’ve finished it in one sitting. Anyway, let’s talk more about this wonderful book.


Cover & Title:

The design for the cover is stunning! The main reason I say this is because all the things depicted on the cover are elements of the story. It simulates the night sky, it has Ari’s red truck, and  little doodles with Ari and Dante’s initials. Tell me that isn’t an awesome cover.

As for the title, I believe it’s amazing since it mentions important elements of the story. It tells you that together, the main characters, will come to know about the unknown of their world. It doesn’t really tell you what their world is, but of course it has to leave some mystery because if not then why would you read the book?


This book is narrated in the past tense and the only perspective we are given is Ari’s. It follows him as he transitions from boyhood to manhood. It takes place in El Paso, Texas at the end of the 1980s, and it occurs over the span of two summers. Furthermore, this book is very character centric, meaning that most of the action occurs within Aristotle himself. However, this does not mean that there isn’t anything happening outside of him because a lot does, but the main thing is how HE deals with them. The story is told in such a beautiful manner, the words tie in so nicely and Ari’s voice was very much that of a philosopher.

The story focuses on Ari’s relationship with his family as well as the problems he encounters in young adulthood–finding out who he is the biggest thing he faces.

One of the aspects I most enjoyed about this book was that it dealt with family relationships. There are so many books out there where the family is introduced but they have nothing to do with the characters. Whenever that occurs I find it to be unrealistic because no matter what kind of family you have it shapes you in one way or another. Ari’s family is somewhat complicated; his brother is in prison and his father is a veteran of the Vietnam war. Ari is troubled by this and the mystery behind everyone of his family members. Also, his parents are not  forthcoming about the matter of his brother, which further perturbs him. However, there wasn’t anything communication couldn’t fix 🙂 I loved how the process of this was showed and how Ari’s relationship with both his parents developed. Another family we are introduced to is Dante’s family. I loved them too! They were wonderful and I loved how much they loved their son and Ari.

The second aspect I loved about this book was Ari and Dante’s relationship. They become fast friends and their friendship is beautiful. For me they were each other’s life line even if one of them didn’t care to admit it. Ari’s self-discovery came in the form of Dante. To me he made Ari question many things about his life aloud. Dante definitely made Ari braver and helped him grow. moreover, Dante is brilliant and inquisitive and Ari is angry and brilliant. They both are intelligent in different ways and it’s wonderful to see not just one kind of smart. I also loved the support that they gave each other. You may disagree with me that Ari didn’t give Dante any support, but as you can see I think otherwise. They were essential to each other and I’m so happy that such characters exist. They weren’t perfect, they were messy but that is what made them feel real.

My favorite parts include: the letters, when Ari got his legs ;), and the self-realization

I want to say that this is not a happy and cutesy book such as Anna and the French Kiss, it’s a different kind of contemporary. It portrays the ups and downs of life through beautifully crafted prose. Therefore, expect your journey to be filled with rough tumbles and the promise of self-discovery.

Favorite quotes:

“The problem with my life was that it was some else’s idea.”

“Feeling sorry for myself was an art”

“Words were different when they lived inside you”



As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, I loved this book. I thoroughly enjoyed the characters and the story it followed. I found that the author’s execution of real world problems was spot on. I wish I could do a full analysis on this book because there is so much to it. To be honest, there were some parts that touched the heartstrings.

I would recommend this book to basically everyone because I love it so much, but it may not be for everyone. Anyone who enjoys contemporary reads as well as LGTQIA books (we need more of these)

I read on Tumblr that it’s going to have a sequel and I beyond excited for it. It even has a title: There Will Be Other Summers. I want it to be a hopeful kind of title but you never know what will happen…

I wanted to integrate a new aspect to my reviews–keywords. I picked this up in one of my lit classes and I think it would be nice to do it with the books I read for pleasure.

Keywords: mystery, discovery, unknowable, belong, family, and lonely

Rating:  ◯ ◯ ◯ ◯ ◯

I hope you enjoyed reading this review, let me know how I can improve!

Goodbye, for now!





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