Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Simon & Schuster | February 21, 2012
        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. 
"The problem with my life is that it was someone else's idea."
~Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of the Universe, page 3

I've discovered that it's not possible to die from emotion while reading a book. If such a thing were possible, it would have happened when I took it upon myself to read Aristotle And Dante Discover The Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. It's a Coming Of Age story, and despite its lengthy title, the book itself is fairly short (only 359 pages) which is both a blessing and a curse. It serves as an amazing quick read, but leaves one wanting more. 

We begin with our protagonist, Aristotle Mendoza, a Hispanic boy who, in all honestly, is simply mediocre. He doesn't have any special skill, and he isn't particularly clever or kind. This is, surprisingly enough, why I loved him so much. His good and bad qualities were perfectly balanced, and I found myself empathizing with him from the first line to the last. In the first chapter, he meets Dante Quintana (and, can I just say, it's so refreshing to read a book and not have to search for minorities, that was a major plus.) and the two quickly become best friends. Dante is smart, philosophical and quirky; Aristotle is quick-witted, tenacious and stands up for himself and others. They make a strange but adorable pair. 

The book is about their transformations as they grow older, from people who don't know who they are to people who are better at pretending they do. It's very contemplative, but fast-paced. There is a lull nearing the end, but ultimately I found myself at the last page with tears in my eyes. The prose is gorgeous. 
Because it was recommended to me as a good LGBT+ book, I found myself searching for romance between them, and although I can't say anything without spoiling the book, let's just say I wasn't entirely disappointed.
It was awesome to finally find an LGBT book in which the plot isn't filled with sex and/or death.

So, if you'd like to read the charming story of two broken boys who are just trying to get through the 80's without breaking apart, Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of the Universe is what you're looking for.

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