Jennifer's Reviews > Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
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bookshelves: ya-lgbtq, over-hyped

3-1/2 stars. I have had this on my mental "to-read" list for a while, having hear so many good things about it, but I found, at least for me, it didn't quite live up to the hype.

So there's a couple of things going on in this book. One has to do with accepting your sexuality and being brave enough to tell people, the other is about friendship, and the third, is about how keeping family secrets and repressing everything bad that happens and just pretending like it didn't doesn't only hurt you, but those around you.

Ari is kind of a loner, but doesn't mind it. He comes from a loving family, but his father is a bit detached and doesn't talk much or ever open up, presumably because of PTSD after serving in Vietnam, and he has an older brother in prison (he doesn't even know what for) that no one talks about and everyone just pretends doesn't exist.

Dante is an only child, also a bit of a loner. He also has loving parents; his father is a very likeable, easy-going guy who is an open book, while his mother is a little harder to read. Unlike Ari, Dante is very sensitive, likes to talk, and is much more open about his feelings. And he cries a lot.

One summer Ari and Dante meet and the pool when Dante offers to teach Ari to swim, and the two soon become best friends, the first real friend either has had, which makes all of their parents very happy. Then a series of events happen: Ari is hit by a car after pushing Dante out of the way, Dante and his family make a temporary move to Chicago, during which time Dante reveals to Ari in a letter that he is gay, then Dante's family returns and Dante confesses he is in love with Ari, but Ari says he is not into boys and lets Dante kiss him to prove it.

I have to say, I was a little disappointed in this book. I loved both sets of parents, and how well-developed they were, and loving and supportive, even if flawed and sometimes making the wrong decision. I identified quite a bit with Ari, and at first liked Dante, but to be honest, after a while he got a bit on my nerves with all the crying and just feelings all over the place, and sometimes TMI. I'm probably one of the dissenters, but I did not like the ending. (view spoiler)

Despite my personal opinion, I think this could be a good book for someone who is questioning their sexuality or already knows they are gay. But I also wonder if it could give someone who is in love with their straight best friend false hope and set them up for disappointment. It is ultimately more of a coming of age story than a romance, and since all teenagers are growing, learning, experimenting, and trying to figure out who they are and where they fit in in this world, it could be relatable to all teens.
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Reading Progress

April 10, 2019 – Started Reading
April 10, 2019 – Finished Reading
April 15, 2019 – Shelved
April 15, 2019 – Shelved as: ya-lgbtq
April 15, 2019 – Shelved as: over-hyped

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