Posted in Book Reviews, Queer Reads

Book Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Dante can swim. Ari can’t. Dante is articulate and self-assured. Ari has a hard time with words and suffers from self-doubt. Dante gets lost in poetry and art. Ari gets lost in thoughts of his older brother who is in prison. Dante is fair skinned. Ari’s features are much darker. It seems that a boy like Dante, with his open and unique perspective on life, would be the last person to break down the walls that Ari has built around himself.

But against all odds, when Ari and Dante meet, they develop a special bond that will teach them the most important truths of their lives, and help define the people they want to be. But there are big hurdles in their way, and only by believing in each other―and the power of their friendship―can Ari and Dante emerge stronger on the other side.


How I Found This Book

I saw this on one of those lists of LGBT YA books you must read. I finally found it at my local friends of the library store.

Overall Feeling

I wanted to cry during the whole thing. Saenz’s writing conveys a melancholy that starts in your soul and just comes rushing to the surface the second you open the book. I almost couldn’t stop reading, putting it down only because my eyes needed to close. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Young Adult Fiction, but especially to Queer youth.


To be honest, the only con I wanted was more to this story. The climax seemed to happen right at the end and I needed more than just that resolution. I believe he’s writing a sequel so hopefully I’ll get everything I need from there.


Is it too much to say everything? I just loved this book. I really loved Ari and just about everything he said and did reminded me so much of myself in high school. Ari was so honest throughout the book as well, which is something I don’t think we get to see often enough. Saenz did a great job portraying Ari and Dante’s friendship as well. The book really grabs you as well and I found myself feeling like I was breezing through it only to find I had read only a couple pages.

Diversity? (Possible Spoilers)

Queer main characters. Main characters are people of color, specifically Mexican. Queer author. Author is a man of color and identifies as a Chicano.

Trigger Warnings (Possible spoilers)

There’s mentions and brief descriptions of homophobic violence.


Words were different when they lived inside you.

It was so beautiful and scary, I wondered about the silence of storms and how sometimes it seemed that a storm wanted to break the world and the world refused to break.

That’s what I did with everything. Kept it inside.

I had been born knowing how to hide what I felt.

But love was always something heavy for me. Something I had to carry.

Another secret of the universe: Sometimes pain was like a storm that came out of nowhere.



Robin spends most of his time running a certified rape crisis center. In his off hours he uses reading as a way to recharge and re-energize.

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