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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe | [Benjamin Alire Saenz]

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

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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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2013 Benjamin Alire Saenz (P)2013 Simon & Schuster Audio

What the Critics Say

“Benjamin Alire Saenz is a writer with a sidewinder punch. Spare sentences connect resonant moments, and then he knocks you down with emotional truth. The story of Ari and Dante’s friendship widens and twists like a river, revealing truths about how hard love is, how family supports us, and how painfully deep you have to go to uncover an authentic self." (Judy Blundell, National Book Award-winning author of What I Saw and How I Lied)

"This book took my breath away. What gorgeous writing, and what a story! I loved both these boys. And their parents! Don't we all wish we had parents like theirs? The ending - and the way it unfolded - was so satisfying. I could go on and on...suffice it to say I will be highly recommending it to one and all. I'm sure I'll reread it myself at some point. I hated having it end." (James Howe, author of Addie on the Inside)

"I’m absolutely blown away. This is Saenz's best work by far.... It’s a beautiful story, so beautifully told and so psychologically acute! Both Ari and Dante are simply great characters who will live on in my memory. Everything about the book is absolutely pitch perfect.... It’s already my favorite book of the year!" (Michael Cart, Booklist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (77 )
5 star
 (49)
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3 star
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4.4 (74 )
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4.5 (73 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Kathleen Walnut Creek, CA, United States 09-05-13
    Kathleen Walnut Creek, CA, United States 09-05-13 Member Since 2010

    Kathleen

    HELPFUL VOTES
    42
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    "A brilliant gem in a sea of mediocrity"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    It's a heartwarming, heart-wrenching, sweet, sad, laugh-out-loud funny, coming-of-age story so deftly told by Mr. Saenz. A better narrator, Mr. Miranda, could not have been chosen. This book will stay with me for the rest of my life. I will never look at teens the same.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Both the main characters and their parents were special beyond words.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The entire book was fabulous, even though I think I went through a box of Kleenex.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I don't have time to listen to any audio book in one sitting. I mostly listened to this one in my car and on my long bike rides, as I do all my audio books. Very satisfactory.


    Any additional comments?

    I simply cannot recommend this book highly enough. To teens and young adults, to parents, to fans of the mm genre... to just about anyone. Oh how I loved it!

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amy JOSHUA, TX, United States 03-02-14
    Amy JOSHUA, TX, United States 03-02-14 Member Since 2013

    I love to read and listen to books. I teach and share my love with my teenager and I'd like to share that love with you.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An Experience Worthy of the Title"

    There really aren't adequate words for me to describe all the ways I enjoyed being along for the ride with ARI & DANTE. This Coming-of-Age novel is so full, even the silence speaks.

    There is never a doubt that these two boys needed to find each other. Their own special baggage is exactly what is required for them to connect, question and work through things. It may be as comical as their Mexican-ness or lack of to grief over their missing pieces. As in most Coming-of-Age novels, they need to learn to be OK with who they are and reconcile what kind of person they want to be. Their journey takes you through all the FEELS, laughing to frustration to tears. It isn't easy, but they get there. I appreciate the fact that in the end they had each other all the way, plus a pair of wonderful parents for support. The lesson I walked away with is learning to be UNASHAMED with who you are.

    LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA was phenomenal. He had the perfect blend of age, unease and bravado that could take you through the rage, snark, laughs and the range of emotions of teen boys. Ari had more bravado and Dante had more excitable wonder. He also captured both sets of parents, their calm, love and specific personalities. SAENZ & MIRANDA served up an experience that won't be forgotten.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rain STILLWATER, MN, United States 10-27-13
    Rain STILLWATER, MN, United States 10-27-13 Listener Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    "One of the best novels I've listened to in years."
    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I think what moves me is just all of the small subtle moments between Ari and Dante that moved me; you can feel how they feel for each other in each interaction and conversation, and you can see how each of them grows after each interaction.
    I also really love those big moments.. hearing them.... when Ari got hurt... and when Dante got hurt, and Ari's reaction to it. All of those moments were just beautiful to listen to.


    Any additional comments?

    This story is beautiful, simplistic (in a wonderful way,) and touching. The relationship between these two boys is so moving and powerful because it is not obvious and in your face; instead, it's subtle and gradual how we change one another in any relationship, how we grow and transform throughout a relationship and how we are never the same in the end.

    You know soon into the story how things will turn out, but you still keep listening to hear because it is so beautifully written, and you fall in love with the characters while dreaming that you had such a friendship.

    I don't usually listen to audiobooks for long periods of time. Usually I listen to one for 20 minutes each night before I fall asleep, but this one kept me awake long long into the night, and now here I sit on a Sunday afternoon having not moved for the last 4 hours just so I can finish this book because I was so enthralled that I couldn't do anything until I finished experiencing this story.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Omar 05-24-14
    Omar 05-24-14
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    "a very nice story (spoilers)"
    Would you listen to Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe again? Why?

    no. because I don't like listening to a book twice


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Aristotle


    What about Lin-Manuel Miranda’s performance did you like?

    veryyy nice


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    yes... the end when both of them just admitted they love each other. and how love happens between two boys


    Any additional comments?

    it's a very open minded book and the first book I've read about two boys who fell in love and there's no shame in that

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ashley 05-09-14
    Ashley 05-09-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    4
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    "A Simple Story, but a Powerful One"
    If you could sum up Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe in three words, what would they be?

    Simple, moving, beautiful


    Which character – as performed by Lin-Manuel Miranda – was your favorite?

    Lin-Manuel Miranda did a wonderful job throughout the entire book, but Ari's father was especially good.


    Any additional comments?

    This isn't a story with a ton of action, but it really appealed to me. Watching the friendship between Ari and Dante evolve was slow, moving, and wonderful. Ari coming to terms with his family's history was also handled wonderfully. I just sat there listening and felt a lot of emotion for what really is a simple story. It was great.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tams (TTC Books and more) JUSTIN, TX, United States 10-03-14
    Tams (TTC Books and more) JUSTIN, TX, United States 10-03-14 Member Since 2012

    Avid reader, reviewer, blogger and budding author.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "One of the best books I've listened to all year!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Oh hell yes! It's everything you want in a book. Engaging, intriguing, well written and well told by the narrator.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Ari. With the story being told from his POV you really got to take the journey through his eyes, I loved his confusion and his convictions.


    What does Lin-Manuel Miranda bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Ari's anger and Dante's flamboyance.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Both! There were a couple times I teared up a little bit. I had a big smile on my face at the end though.


    Any additional comments?

    Aristotle is a loner, but he’s not lonely. He’s played sports and joined clubs but he has never really had any friends, because he has never felt like he was a part of the normal teenage world. His mom is a teacher, his father is a Vietnam vet who keeps his thoughts to himself and his brother is in prison. It’s just another of many things his parents don’t talk about, his brother or why he isn’t a part of their lives. With summer break looming, Ari’s mom encourages him to make friends, and that is when he meets Dante at the local pool.

    Dante is smart, open minded, out spoken and over bearing... pretty much everything that Ari is not. As unlikely as the pair seem, they bond and become best friends. Dante’s mom is a Therapist and his dad is a Professor so his smarts come naturally, but he loves to read, swim and is a poet at heart. The two quickly become inseparable to spite the fact that sometimes Ari finds Dante insufferable. Ari even steps in front of a moving car to save Dante, who was trying to save a broken winged bird at the time.

    What was supposed to be a fun summer spent together at the pool and discovering the secret of life, is now spent with Ari recouping from the accident. And then summer is over, Dante is in Chicago with his parents for the school year, and Ari is angry. He is angry at Dante for trying to save that stupid bird. He is angry at himself for getting hurt. He is angry at his parents for not talking to him, and for never talking about his brother. Most of all, he doesn’t even know why he is really angry, if he is truly so angry at all.

    Things change a lot over the next couple years, for both Ari and Dante. Dante explores a variety of vices including pot and alcohol, girls and boys, finally deciding he’d rather kiss boys than kiss girls. Ari gets to know his parents, himself and the illusion of his big brother. And then the unthinkable happens, Dante is hurt in an act of violence that sends Ari on a downward spiral that could end with him in the same place as his beloved big brother.
    Wow, just wow. This story really made me think. I found myself rewinding several times to go back and listen to Ari’s thoughts again, make sure I was hearing them the way they were meant to be heard. Truly a story about two young men’s journey of self awareness in a big city Texas town in an era where being gay was still considered taboo, and frowned upon, to the extent that violence was generally overlooked. But not by Ari who knows Dante better than anyone else, even if it takes almost losing him to finally see it himself.

    I’ve never listened to or read another story quite like this one. Told from Ari’s POV, you are traversing these two years in time inside his mind, seeing through his eyes, feeling what and how he felt. But Saenz made sure that Dante’s unique perspective on things always shined through as well. Dante was pretty much an open book, what you saw was what you got. Ari though, he was like an onion, you had to slowly peel back the layers to reveal what was on the inside. He came across as angry sometimes, when in actuality he was hurt or confused. At one point he finally admits that he was looking for Dante before he even knew it.

    Whether it was their sometimes awkward but always intriguing conversations, letters exchanged while Dante was away in Chicago, or a real time relay of events as they were happening described by Ari, the relationship between these two completely fascinated me. Dante knew he loved Ari long before the feelings were reciprocated, but I don’t think even Dante knew he was IN love with Ari at first. The way their relationship unfolded, becoming and staying best friends for years before anything else was very fresh, innocent and endearing.

    If you’re looking for just another sexy book from the LGBT genre, you won’t find that here. What you will find is a wonderfully written story about two young men that are looking for something, anything, discovering secrets about their lives, their futures and their pasts while forging an unbreakable bond of love and friendship. And the narrator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, has a voice that matches the story perfectly. Fresh, new and youthful. This is one of the best books I’ve listened to all year. I seriously lost time while I was listening I was so engrossed in the story.

    If you are a fan of authors like Mia Kerick and Geoff Laughton, both from Harmony Ink, then this book should be added to your TBR list!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-6 of 6 results
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  • Elhana
    5/4/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Beautiful Story, So-So Reading"
    Would you listen to Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe again? Why?

    Yes. The story flows easily, with good humour and raw, meaningful sections that you'd want to listen over and over again.


    What other book might you compare Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe to, and why?

    "The Perks of Being a Wallflower"
    "The Silver Linings Playbook"

    Feel-good books that end well.


    Did Lin-Manuel Miranda do a good job differentiating each of the characters? How?

    I don't think so. He tries really hard to make Dante sound different from Ari, but Dante just sounds like an unattractive, nerdy kid, which isn't totally Dante (since we know that he is beautiful and sophisticated). I know Dante is supposed to have a nasal voice at the beginning because of his allergy, but Benjamin clearly signifies that his allergy is over by that first summer. Plus, Lin-Manuel Miranda doesn't seem to have read and practised the reading beforehand because he mistakes the voice of the characters sometimes.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It made me laugh and cry. Brilliant.


    Any additional comments?

    I don't think that Lin-Manuel Miranda's narration is ideal. However, this audiobook is worth buying because the story is worth listening to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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