I have a lot of things going on in my life right now. I have been on the run non-stop, dealing with some family things and life things. I picked up a book just needing something to help me relax in the evenings and I ended up getting completely taken away. I was in awe of this book. It captured my attention and didn't let go. I became lost in the life of the characters.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe--even the title is amazing.
There was something really unique about this book, even though it wasn't an extremely unique premise. It has to do with two things: Mr. Saenz writing, and the characters. In some ways his writing is very simple and sparse. It's not overly detailed and bogged down. It's poetic, in a way, and it's somehow through the simplicity that this book says so much. I don't know if that makes sense but it's the only way I know how to put it. There aren't huge plot twists, there wasn't a ton of action. It was very much character based which you all know I love. In a lot of ways, this book is just about a boy who has all sorts of feelings that he doesn't understand, or doesn't even realize he has. He's confused about the world, himself and the people around him, so it's easier for him to be aloof and pretend he doesn't really feel anything at all. At the same time, this book is about so much more than that. It's about learning who you are, accepting that, dealing with the trials and tribulations of being a teenager. It deals with sexuality, romance, family, friendship, self-discovery, being a boy, race, and life, I guess. It sort of deals with everything in this slow, easy manner that crawls under your skin, burrows it's way into your heart, and makes a home there. I loved both Ari and Dante. Loved how different they were--Dante who wasn't afraid to cry, wore his heart on his sleeve, and cared so deeply. And Ari who was afraid to feel, who was confused by the world and himself and so he kept himself closed off from life. Their friendship was beautiful to watch unfold. I loved all the relationships in this book. I loved the parents. I loved Ari's relationship with Dante's parents and Ari's relationship with his own.
I can't even explain what it is. I just loved everything about this book. It was beautiful and sad yet even while I felt that sadness, there was an underlying happiness too because I could what was happening, even when Ari couldn't.
And because you guys know I'm a quote person, here are a few of my favorite quotes:
“I got to thinking that poems were like people. Some people you got right off the bat. Some people you just didn't get--and never would get.”
“I wondered what that was like, to hold someone’s hand. I bet you could sometimes find all of the mysteries of the universe in someone’s hand.”
“Another secret of the universe: Sometimes pain was like a storm that came out of nowhere. The clearest summer could end in a downpour. Could end in lightning and thunder.”
“The summer sun was not meant for boys like me. Boys like me belonged to the rain.”
"I renamed myself Ari. If I switched the letter, my name was Air. I thought it might be a great thing to be the air. I could be something and nothing at the same time. I could be necessary and also invisible. Everyone would need me and no one would be able to see me.”
“I wanted to tell them that I'd never had a friend, not ever, not a real one. Until Dante. I wanted to tell them that I never knew that people like Dante existed in the world, people who looked at the stars, and knew the mysteries of water, and knew enough to know that birds belonged to the heavens and weren't meant to be shot down from their graceful flights by mean and stupid boys. I wanted to tell them that he had changed my life and that I would never be the same, not ever. And that somehow it felt like it was Dante who had saved my life and not the other way around. I wanted to tell them that he was the first human being aside from my mother who had ever made me want to talk about the things that scared me. I wanted to tell them so many things and yet I didn't have the words. So I just stupidly repeated myself. "Dante's my friend.”
"And why was it that some guys had tears in them and some had no tears at all? Different boys lived by different rules."
"The World was so silent. There was a barrier between me and the world, and I thought for a moment that the world had never wanted me and now it was taking the opportunity to get rid of me."
"Somehow I'd hoped that this would be the summer that I would discover that I was alive."
***As I said, there are a lot of things going on for me personally right now so I know I'm a little more absent from the internet than I usually am. BUT to make up for it, I'm going to gift an e-copy of this book to one person who comments on this post. You must be able to accept gifted ebooks through Amazon or Barnes and Noble to win. Please leave your email address in the comment. I will draw a winner at random on July 9th.
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.