Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sàenz

Simon & Schuster | Hardcover, 359 pages
Young Adult | LGBT Fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

“Something happened inside me as I looked out into the vast universe. Through that telescope, the world was closer and larger than I’d ever imagined. And it was all so beautiful and overwhelming and – I don’t know – it made me aware that there was something inside of me that mattered.” – Chapter 10, page 42

At a tender age of fourteen, Aristotle would set out his path to discover the secrets of his universe. He has questions he wants answered. He wants to know why his parents insist on erasing his brother’s presence in their lives when he’s still alive. He wants to know why he much preferred the company of his thoughts than actual people. He wants to know why Dante could be so full of curious energy and wonder when his endless questions seem to tire him out. Most of all, he wants to know why he’s so angry.

Meeting Dante might just be the catalyst that would take him on a journey to discover the secrets that have plagued him at such a young age. But it’s not going to be without trials.

What is not to love about this book? Captivating characters, engrossing tale of family, friendship and love. It is every bit as beautiful, tender, and fiercely honest. Some books are truly intimidating to review, and for all its accolades and acclaims, Aristotle and Dante has left me floundering for words. At the same time, it’s that type of book where you want to do everything you could to proclaim its greatness. I just want to shove this book to everyone I know because reading it is such an experience. Depending on what you take away from it, the book would make you feel like your heart was fuller than when you started reading.

The most unforgettable relationships are those forged in friendship first; Ari and Dante truly had that. While Dante was not very shy in admitting he liked kissing boys over girls, Ari didn’t really  come right out and say it. In fact, his parents sort of forced him out of the closet. Truth is, I was a little jarred by this. I’ve never heard of parents telling their son he’s gay instead of the son telling them he’s gay. In that sense, I thought it was a bit of a reach. But then again, if anybody knows Ari, it’s his parents. Ari has done a couple of pretty heroic stuff for Dante, so I guess I can understand why they thought Ari’s love for Dante is more than brotherly.

And yeah, you’re not going to cry. Your eyes will remain generally dry, but oh my goodness. Ari and Dante will make you feel like you have the fattest heart in the entire universe. The writing! As a fledgling poet, Benjamin incites jealousy of words; beautifully poetic, wonderfully hypnotic. There is a lyrical quality that makes me feel like I can hear a hymn as I read. But it’s so gentle, and not too obvious. You’ll have to sit there and savour its taste in your tongue.


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  • Awww, I love this review (almost as much as I love Ari and Dante) *hugs review*

    “left me floundering for words. At the same time, it’s that type of book where you want to do everything you could to proclaim its greatness. I just want to shove this book to everyone I know because reading it is such an experience. ” SAME.

    “Ari and Dante will make you feel like you have the fattest heart in the entire universe.” – YESSSS.


  • I am not sure why I haven’t read this book yet. I have definitely seen it around. Another novel to add to my TBR. I have to say, I do love novels that make my heart feel all the feels. You’re adoration for this book has convinced me, Joy!

    I loved your review, thanks so much!

    • I really hope you’ll enjoy this one too. I’ve been telling everyone to read it that I should be worried y’all wouldn’t like it. But trust me when I say, you must. 🙂

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  • It’s nice to know that I won’t cry because I can do that quite easily. I don’t think I knew this one but wow it sounds perfect. You had some great books this month I’m really impressed and everything looks so nice. thanks for the review.

  • I’m not a fan of lyrical writing, BUT this has been recommended to me a ton. I have to read it asap. Really glad you enjoyed it, and hopefully I’ll love it as much as you did! =)

    • Trust me, Aimee. You will be caught up in the story that you won’t even notice the writing (if that’s even possible).

  • YES your review just convinced me to add it to my TBR, especially after your recommendation that it was diverse! I love the sound of this Joy. You are bad (or is it good) for my TBR hehe 🙂

    • Lol! Ignore every single book that I’ve recc’d in the past. PICK THIS ONE UP. It’s important; it’s relevant, and it’s good for the heart. 🙂

  • I’ve seen this around a lot and that it won awards but never read an actual review, or what it’s about, honestly. But, gosh, there’s nothing I love more than beautiful writing. I think I could read a book about absolutely nothing so long as the writing were pretty. And your review is absolutely wonderful, so no worries about floundering for words!

    • This one is definitely beautiful inside and out. I especially love the camaraderie between families, and the loyalty between friends. The romance is a bit more serious than One Man Guy, but heck, it’s inspirational.

  • Joy, what a gorgeous review! I’ve been eyeing this book for some time now, but I was wary because I haven’t read that many great LGBT books. But this looks absolutely amazing and these characters sound like they are so well-written. Also, what a beautiful cover!
    Lovely review, Joy!

    • Yes, the cover is something else, isn’t it? This is definitely one that’s worthy of all the praises it’s gotten. But like all books, it’s subjective, yes? I do hope you’ll read it, because it’s one that can’t be missed.

  • Beautiful review Joy! I’ve heard nothing but praise for this book, and from all the awards it’s won, I know how you feel. Going into such a book, you hope it’ll be as brilliant as everyone says it is. I’m so glad this novel worked out so well for you, I can’t wait to read it!

    • Thanks, Joy. I really hope you’ll see its brilliance for yourself. 🙂

  • I’m so glad you fell in love with this story! It’s such an unassuming, quiet tale but it truly packs so much of a punch and the detailed prose, not to mention the depth of the friendship within these pages, is heart-wrenching. Lovely review!

    • Thanks, Keertana. It’s so unassuming that I’ve neglected it for a whole year! Now I’m kicking myself. Oh well, better late than never. 🙂

  • I love how you say that. The fattest heart in the universe. And it’s so true! This book is really amazing and I’m glad you enjoyed it as well. 🙂

  • Wow! This one sounds amazing too! Now I need to read it.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  • Ashley read this and I don’t think she was a fan, although I could be mistaken. It kind of turned me off the book but we have disagreed on books plenty of times, and with you giving it 5 stars I think I need to try this for myself. I usually love beautiful, honest books. Plus, it’s on audio at the library so win-win, I can listen to it soon.

    • Oh what?! Gosh, you have to read it, Nicole. It’s so relevant and important in more ways than it being of LGBT variety. If you’ve ever heeded a recommendation from me in the past, and have been disappointed, I promise you that this one will not.

  • I’m sure I’ve got this one on my kindle, J.! Wonderful, absolutely wonderful review!

    • Don’t waste another second, K. Read it soon!

  • Great review! I’m glad to see you enjoyed this one!! For some reason I’m weirdly drawn to the cover… 😀

  • Beautiful review! I’ve been curious about this book before and now I actually want to read it!

    • Thanks, Victoria. This is one is a book you can’t afford to miss!

  • I’ve been seeing this everywhere, and in every review I’ve gone to read, people only had praises to say. I’m glad to saw you’re echoing those as well 🙂 Plus, this is LGBT isn’t it? We definitely need more of those in this widely-read market!

    Faye at The Social Potato Reviews

    • Absolutely, Faye. For all the awards it’s gotten, Aristotle and Dante is an unassuming book. And I don’t know why, but I feel kind of awful for not reading it sooner!

  • Wonderful review joy! I haven’t heard of this one before now but I will be adding it to my TBR pile!

  • The way family, friendship and love are woven into this sounds like something I would love to read about.

    • It’s all the things you mentioned and then some. 🙂

  • Ack. Amazing review Joy. <3 I'm so glad you loved this book. That the writing is beautiful. I need beautiful writing, lol. And oh. That cover is so pretty 😀 Thank you for sharing. <3

    • Thanks, C. If you’re not a fan of these type of stories, I urge you to most definitely read it. You simply must! It’s so beautiful. <3