Catch-up · Reviews

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz – Review





Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Format: Hardcover, 359 pages

Published Date: February 21st 2012

Buy at: Barnes & Noble Amazon logo bookdepository logo

(Click cover or underlined title to add on Goodreads)


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.

Decor 1

adri's review


The problem with life was that it’s someone else’s idea.

I can’t believe that I once DNF-ed this book…(Don’t hate me, I didn’t actually hate the book or anything) I picked it up quite a while a go and found myself stuck for some reason and I decided to read it another time. I’m so glad I came back to it. This book is definitely a must-read. Unique writing, absolutely addicting characters and immersing story.

I found myself relating to Ari in more than one occasion. He’s such a real character, you can’t help but relate to some of his characteristics. I loved how he was kinda reserved and a bit odd. I don’t know how the author did it, but he has a very distinct voice- which I love in characters.

I had a rule that it was better to be bored by yourself than to be bored with someone else. I pretty much lived by that rule. Maybe that’s why I didn’t have any friends.

I loved every insight I got into Ari’s family. The conversations between Ari and his mother were often hilarious and very interesting- I couldn’t help but love the mom. I also liked the dynamic he had with his reticent father. And then there are his sisters, and his brother who’s in prison. We don’t get to see much of his siblings but his brother’s current condition plays a big role in Ari’s life and it’s effect on the family is very realistically portrayed.

Dante might be one of the most adorable characters ever *heart eyes* He’s very smart and very civilized, but also outspoken. He’s an odd ball, but in the best way- he comes up with weirdest thing to do and say. I really admired his sociable nature and his unique personality. Witnessing Dante and Ari’s friendship blossom was the absolute best thing about this book. Their dynamics and the way their personalities just work together was incredible. The author did such a great job with incorporating their friendship into the topics of self-discovery and family and love and growing up.

He whispered, “Someday, I’m going to discover all the secrets of the universe.”

That made me smile. “What are you going to do with all the secrets of the universe, Dante?”

“I’ll know what to do with them,” he said. “Maybe change the world.”

I believed him.

I’m pretty sure most would argue that this book might be the best Coming-of-age story and I would agree with that. It’s an absolute must-read. The writing isn’t exactly easy; it’s a bit poetic and it might intimidate some people, but if you could push through your initial apprehension, you’ll see how the writing makes it all the more realistic and beautiful.

about author

benjaminBenjamin Alire Sáenz (born 16 August 1954) is an award-winning American poet, novelist and writer of children’s books.

He was born at Old Picacho, New Mexico, the fourth of seven children, and was raised on a small farm near Mesilla, New Mexico. He graduated from Las Cruces High School in 1972. That fall, he entered St. Thomas Seminary in Denver, Colorado where he received a B.A. degree in Humanities and Philosophy in 1977. He studied Theology at the University of Louvain in Leuven, Belgium from 1977 to 1981. He was a priest for a few years in El Paso, Texas before leaving the order.

In 1985, he returned to school, and studied English and Creative Writing at the University of Texas at El Paso where he earned an M.A. degree in Creative Writing. He then spent a year at the University of Iowa as a PhD student in American Literature. A year later, he was awarded a Wallace E. Stegner fellowship. While at Stanford University under the guidance of Denise Levertov, he completed his first book of poems, Calendar of Dust, which won an American Book Award in 1992. He entered the Ph.D. program at Stanford and continued his studies for two more years. Before completing his Ph.D., he moved back to the border and began teaching at the University of Texas at El Paso in the bilingual MFA program.

Follow Author:Twitter logo goodreads logo 2

Find Author:


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s