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

A lyrical novel about family and friendship from critically acclaimed author Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

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.

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There are so many things that can be said about this book that wouldn’t even sum up the emotions brought up in me while reading it. Led by a cadence of family, friendship, and love, this novel will make you look at life a little bit differently.

Aristotle (aka Ari) is a boy from a pretty solid family. The only problem is his brother is in prison and his parents don’t talk about why. My friend Carla described him best, “Ari has always felt lonely; adrift in a universe that he can’t grasp, unable to understand how to simply just be.” There are so many ways I relate to Ari in this book. He’s so caught up in the every day of nothingness that he can’t escape the feelings of loneliness inside his head. That is until Dante comes into the picture. And they couldn’t be more different. He’s boisterous, confident, and talks a little funny. But that doesn’t stop him from enjoying life as it passes him by. Though Ari doesn’t realize it in the beginning, Dante is the best thing that will ever happen to him.

This book snuck up on me and I was absolutely blown away by it. I had been wanting to read it for a little while and when I saw that it was finally available for preorder on Audible, I took a chance. I listened to the entire book in one siting and if I can recommend and audiobook to anyone, this will be the first!

If you’ve ever felt unloved, different, self-doubting, unworthy, then this book will change you. There is so much beneath the cover of this book. Layers to be peeled away revealing the deeper meanings to our existence. Structured with love, this story explores the intense love of a family, a friend, and even a lover.

I cannot tell you how much this book means to me now. I invested so much of myself into the story as I was reading that when I finished, I honestly felt a piece missing. Don’t miss this book.

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Jeremy West

Head Designer at Red Creative
Jeremy is the managing editor for Novel Thoughts and head designer for Red Creative Design. To pay the bills, he currently works at a children's publishing house in NYC and spends his spare time setting up photoshoots, going to book events, and pretending he is a chef at home.

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