Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe


"The summer was not meant for boys like me. Boys like me belonged to the rain."

Set against the backdrop of everyday contemporary life in the small town of El Paso, this coming-of-age story follows two boys in an emerging friendship built amid the challenges of growth and self-acceptance, particularly that of one's sexuality. Aristotle and Dante, curious, eager, and intrigued, struggle to embrace their roots as well as their family background, while coming to terms with their feelings for one another. A story of acceptance and pain, this novel illustrates the convolutions of human emotion as its explores the challenges of growing up in a society of standards.

In this book, the characters' emotions were portrayed as raw and realistic along the aspects of human identity. The experiences of both Aristotle and Dante provided insight as to the struggles that gay boys face, especially of boys who are still amid the stages of growth and self-discovery. Saenz puts into words the deepest emotions that a gay character experiences, revealing the anxiety and the inexplicable feelings that prove to be difficult for many people. I have come to find that this makes up for the novel's strongest facet in telling a tale of two boys in love.

Yet, even with the book's exceptional plot, the story was largely predictable. It was not as heart-wrenching as I expected it to be, despite the hype that the novel has received and the tears it has reduced its readers to. Nonetheless, as one of the most human stories I have read thus far, Aristotle and Dante is still a great story that is worth reading.

★★★
jillian etc.