Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Summary: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.
Why do we smile? Why do we laugh? Why do we feel alone? Why are we sad and confused? Why do we read poetry? Why do we cry when we see a painting? Why is there a riot in the heart when we love? Why do we feel shame? What is that thing in the pit of your stomach called desire?
I feel ashamed at handing out a 3-star rating to Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, mostly because it has received so much extensive praise from my trusted friends. In a way, it is exactly the novel everyone has promised it would be – lyrical and beautiful. On the other hand? I simply didn’t emotionally connect to it as much as I wished I would.
The story itself follows Aristotle “Ari” and Dante. With completely opposite personalities and interests, it seems unlikely that they’d bond, but they do. They find that they have a bond stronger than they could ever imagine, and they spend the summer trying to decipher the secrets of the universe.
Ari is mad. At his mother – who erased any trace of his imprisoned brother from the house. At his father – who served in the Navy and comes back more distant than ever.
Dante, on the other hand, is light, funny, and extroverted. He has an infatuation for poetry and art. And he’s homosexual.
Their bond was one that had an authenticity to it that made it feel completely genuine, and there’s no doubt in my mind as to why they became friends – despite their differences. Their friendship sometimes almost feels like…something more (à la Anna and Elise’s in Dangerous Girls; and, even though the answer as to why is a bit obvious, it keeps you on your toes.
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.
In my opinion, it speaks volumes when an author is willing to tackle difficult topics in a book. And Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe covers many. Friendship, the power of family, love, and staying true to yourself are all discussed in a powerful way here; and I found the messages to be wonderfully written. In society we have such a difficult time not labeling and identifying people based on their beliefs, race, religion, etc. What if we all just embraced each other for who we are, like Ari and Dante did? It’s such a powerful and necessary thought.
Exquisite writing and realistic characters are only some of the many fabulous things covered in Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. While I can’t say it touched me as emotionally as it did most readers (I suppose maybe I’m just a stoned-face person?), I do think it is an important and obligatory read.
How could I have ever been ashamed of loving Dante Quintana?