Saturday, June 18, 2016

Two Boys Discover Life

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the UniverseAristotle and Dante Discover 
the Secrets of the Universe 
by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

“i have this idea that the reason we have dreams is that we're thinking about things that we don't know we're thinking about-and those things,well,they sneak out of us in our dreams.Maybe we're like tires with too much air in them.The air has to leak out.That's what dreams are.”   ― Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

"Through all of youth I was looking for you 
without knowing what I was looking for."
-- W. S. Merwin

Friendship and family devotion are two of the themes of this wonderful book. But beyond those themes are the wonder and mystery of desire while developing an understanding about the relations between oneself and the object of desire.

Two boys, Ari and Dante, are as different as any two boys can be. Yet they become friends and their friendship becomes a bond that transcends their differences.  Ari narrates the story and tells how he and Dante learn and grow  as they share books and thoughts, feelings and dreams. The experience of growing and becoming is demonstrated by the life changes precipitated by the calendar:

"Summer was here again. Summer, Summer, Summer.  I loved and hated summers.  Summers had a logic all there own and they always brought something out in me.  Summer was supposed to be about freedom and youth and no school and possibilities and adventure and exploration.  Summer was a book of hope.  That's why I loved and hated summers.  Because they made me want to believe." (p 235)

Their shared lives and experiences help them grow and deal with the difficulties inherent in that process. The journey of Ari and Dante became one of discovery of what was hidden inside each of them from the beginning.  For this reader it was enjoyable and ultimately inspirational.  A reading adventure that I would recommend to all.

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Brian Joseph said...

Books that have reading and other books as themes always interest me. I have always considered the exploration of book and ideas to be one of life's great adventures.

I like the way that the main character names are related to Aristotle and Dante.

James said...


This is a surprising mixture of "coming-of-age" with friendship and family relationships. The themes are bound together in a wonderful way that highlights the importance of learning who you are whether through books or introspection or relationship-building. The result is an impressive and inspirational story.