I’ve recently read Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz. The story takes place around 1987.
Aristotle is a teenage boy who fits awkawrdly in life. He is withdrawn into himself and doesn’t express his emotions and what he thinks, ever. He is a Mexican-American living in El Paso, New Mexico.
One day, a teenage boy named Dante introduces himself by offering to teach Ari how to swim. From there, a close yet complex friendship starts. In the course of the novel, we learn that Dante is gay, that Ari has a brother who is in jail. After many hurdles, including a terrifying car accident in which Ari gets run over to save Dante’s life and a temporary moving to Chicago for Dante, Ari’s parents finally reveal to him the truth about his brother but also about himself. At 17 years old, Ari finally knows who is and a new relationship with Dante begins.
There are a lot of themes developed in this novel: Mexicanism and Americanism. Friendship. Self-discovery. Love. Family relationships. School. This is unquestionably a bildungsroman. I quite like the way it was written, and I liked the humour. It is very insightful and the characters are engaging.
I read this book in two settings. I heartily recommend it.
I rated it 4*/5.