“Words were different when they lived inside of you.”
―Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz is the most refreshing contemporary stand alone novel that I have ever read in the summer of 2015. This small novel holds more serious, mind you controversial themes that you would imagine in only 359 pages. The book is uniquely strutted into six sections that divided each theme with a corresponding chapters either have a preceding a quote from another author or a quote from another author.
The 6 sections and their featuring quotes are:
•The Different Rules of Summer
“The problem with my life was that it was someone else’s idea.”
• Sparrows Falling from the Sky
“When I was a boy, I used to wake up thinking that the world was ending.”
• The End of Summer
“Do you remember the summer of the rain… You must let everything fall that wants to fall.” – Karen Fiser
• Letters on a Page
“There are some words I’ll never learn to spell.”
• Remember the Rain
“turning the pages patiently in search of meanings”–W.S. Merwin
• All the Secrets of the Universe
“Through all of youth I was looking for you without knowing what I was looking for.”– W.S. Merwin
I never read a book like hits before. My heart fell in love with the way the book is written as well as the honest internal conflicts we have all endure while coming to age, especially during our sexual investigation/curiosity teen early years towards adulthood.
There are times when authors write works of fiction that despite how great their writing techniques are you do not truly connect deeply with the characters in comparison to how deeply the enivorment the characters call home. While reading Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, I felt that the author Benjamin Alire Sáenz truly put more than his time into writing this novel but his own experiences which made my heart swell during the rise and falls that surrounded Ari. My heart also broke towards the struggles the author must have have during his life struggling with his identity that allowed him to come out to the world at 52 years old. To me I felt through his writing of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, that he was able to release most of the issues he’s faced to help others who probably are struggling with different aspects of life that the themes of the book clearly depict.
The themes that you will meet during the reading of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe are:
• Mexican-American Identity
View Spoiler »It hurt my heart when Dante said he wasn’t a true Mexican because he didn’t speak Spanish when compared to Ari. Even though Ari told him that he COULD just learn Spanish Dante is convinced within himself that he was never going to ACTUALLY be Mexican as Ari. That hurt my heart so much. You are more than your DNA or Nationality! « Hide Spoiler
• Gender and Sexuality
View Spoiler »Dante is instantly confident about his sexuality! Dante is just so hilariously comfortable about it. Even when he moves away to Chicago he explores all realms of life without any hesitation, but it’s Ari who was struggling so hard with the idea of him being a homosexual! Honestly Dante who writes a letter asking a person how much they masturbate! « Hide Spoiler
• Family Relationships
I connected with the family elements of the novel, especially with Ari. Aristotle is the youngest of his siblings by a landslide, his sister Cecilia for example treats him more like a her own son verses a brother. I also enjoyed how Dante was able to connect with Ari’s dad in a way that he never could at the beginning of the novel. Usually I would spend time taking about character development, however I feel that the family elements, in itself were it’s on character development.
• Hate Crime
View Spoiler »When Ari’s family actually told him what happen to his older brother . . . it was as if you could feel the family shame through that entire scene. I don’t even know what to say about that moment in the book. I felt so hurt for the mother, the sisters, the entire family. However I love the fact that Ari is still going to try and reconnect with his older brother. I don’t even know what to say about the actual crime…where does a kid get money for sex! « Hide Spoiler
View Spoiler »Wasn’t the last page of the last chapter the most romantic moment in the entire novel? I mean I just sighed after I read the book. I wanted to hold the book so close to my heart it just made me feel so utterly loved! « Hide Spoiler
If you haven’t notice I love this novel. I have already asked all my dearest friends to give this novel a chances in their bookshelf as well as in their hearts. I would not ask you to do any less. I truly love this novel and I feel that everyone should give the novel a chances, despite if you fall in love with it as deeply as I have. I feel that any book that speaks about the issues involving how to love freely, and being able to love freely needs to be loved (especially when it’s well written) it needs to continue to speared the novel as well!!
We can all learn for each other and this book is no different.
Happy Reading Everyone