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

I was sent this book in my Ninja Book Swap parcel and wanted to read or almost immediately (the second I made a dent in the five books I already had on the go). I read it Saturday over the course of a day and loved it.

I’ve seen quotes gloating around Tumblr for quite some time now but before I added it to my wish list I never really looked into it. I assumed based on the cover that it would turn out to be some sort of fantasy teen book… Which is about as wrong as I could get. It’s actually a coming of age story set in America in the 80s and revolves around two Mexican boys, Aristotle and Dante.

Aristotle narrates and I loved the contrast between his unsureness and Dante’s confidence. They are polar opposites to one another but neither felt like a stereotype or parody. I liked seeing things from the less confident boy’s eyes, I think it was important to see feelings and emotions develop slowly, as much as I loved Dante.

I liked the way it was set out, with chapters of different lengths and sections to show slight changes in the boys situation. It was a fairly quick read, like I said I finished it within a day, and I think the layout helped that.

It was also nice to read a book that was explicitly about a gay relationship, particularly one where the characters were also not white. It’s not written for ‘me’, in the sense that I don’t fall into that demographic, but I know that it’s an important thing for people who don’t see themselves mirrored positively in fiction. I can see why the hype as there online!


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