Audiobook Review + Giveaway: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by

Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Published: February 21st 2012 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary / LGBTQI
Audiobook: April 9th 2013 by Simon & Schuster Audio
Read By: Lin-Manuel Miranda

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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.

This book, you guys. This book. It had me so worried at times. All the similar titles I’ve read this year have all ended up disappointing me in some way. Not so this one. No disappointment, but I was worried that it was going to break my heart. Talk about severely withholding gratification.

I don’t even think I have a proper review in me. I felt so many feels that now I don’t know what I am even feeling anymore. I want to laugh. I want to cry. THIS BOOK. LOVED IT. SO MUCH.


Right, let’s attempt coherency. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is about a 15 year old boy, Ari, who is having one hell of a time growing up. He feels broken and disjointed and has a hard time opening up to people. Then he meets this other boy, Dante, who is the complete opposite. Dante is demonstrative, passionate and not afraid of talking about his feelings. It kind of freaks Ari out, and in all honesty, other than a shared nationality, they have very little in common. But somehow they click and a sometimes rocky, sometimes steadfast friendship develops and together they discover that there is so much about growing up and being men that they still need to learn.

It is beautifully written. Ari may not be big on talking and sharing, but everything he feels is so raw and powerful that you can’t help but be drawn into his world. His incredibly angsty, angry world at times. I found it a very authentic teen boy voice, full of confusion and insecurity and hope. There were laugh out loud moments, and moments that made me all misty eyed. As much as I wanted everything to turn out all right, I didn’t want the story to ever end.

My favorite part about this story is that it was so universal. Ari and Dante are of Hispanic descent, and the story is set in the late 1980s, but they could be any boys from anywhere, and it could have taken place this very year. The questions and lessons they struggle with are just that big.

In fact, I loved this so much, I want to share it with someone else. Let me buy you a copy!


Contest Rules:

  • Open Internationally (as long as The Book Depository ships to you). Alternately, you can choose the ebook from Amazon.
  • Must be 13 to enter
  • Winners will be notified via email
  • A new winner will be chosen if a response is not received within 48 hours
  • Contest ends June 28th, 2013

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Narrator: Lin-Manuel Miranda

I really enjoyed Lin-Manuel Miranda’s portrayal of Ari. He speaks nice and clear and injects just enough emotion into the story that it had me captured (and enraptured) the entire time. There was only one downside for me, his Ari voice and Dante voice didn’t have much difference, and many parts of the story have them talking without any dialogue tags. Maybe it’s just my short attention span, but every now and then I lost track of who was speaking and was all ?? That said, it didn’t make me love the story any less and I fully intend to keep the audiobook on my iPod for those days I just want to feel something deeper.

Benjamin Alire Sáenz (born 16 August 1954) is an award-winning American poet, novelist and writer of children’s books.

He was born at Old Picacho, New Mexico, the fourth of seven children, and was raised on a small farm near Mesilla, New Mexico. He graduated from Las Cruces High School in 1972. That fall, he entered St. Thomas Seminary in Denver, Colorado where he received a B.A. degree in Humanities and Philosophy in 1977. He studied Theology at the University of Louvain in Leuven, Belgium from 1977 to 1981. He was a priest for a few years in El Paso, Texas before leaving the order.

In 1985, he returned to school, and studied English and Creative Writing at the University of Texas at El Paso where he earned an M.A. degree in Creative Writing. He then spent a year at the University of Iowa as a PhD student in American Literature. A year later, he was awarded a Wallace E. Stegner fellowship. While at Stanford University under the guidance of Denise Levertov, he completed his first book of poems, Calendar of Dust, which won an American Book Award in 1992. He entered the Ph.D. program at Stanford and continued his studies for two more years. Before completing his Ph.D., he moved back to the border and began teaching at the University of Texas at El Paso in the bilingual MFA program.

His first novel, Carry Me Like Water was a saga that brought together the Victorian novel and the Latin American tradition of magic realism and received much critical attention.

In The Book of What Remains (Copper Canyon Press, 2010), his fifth book of poems, he writes to the core truth of life’s ever-shifting memories. Set along the Mexican border, the contrast between the desert’s austere beauty and the brutality of border politics mirrors humanity’s capacity for both generosity and cruelty.

In 2005, he curated a show of photographs by Julian Cardona.

He continues to teach in the Creative Writing Department at the University of Texas at El Paso.

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4 Responses to Audiobook Review + Giveaway: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

  1. Stormy says:

    I read this book recently and had a similar reaction. I just. . . it was so BEAUTIFUL but also so SAD at times & I just came to love Aristotle & Dante SO much. I think this is probably my favorite book I've read so far this year. The writing is beyond description, so lyrical and yet simple at the same time.

    • Right? You need capslock to fully explain this book. Also a lot of hand flailing. It's totally my favorite book of the year as well. I want every book I read to be like this one.

  2. Cayce says:

    "THIS BOOK. LOVED IT. SO MUCH.!!" – ME TOO. ME TOO. And you listened to it on audiobook!! *jelly*

    And, I would like to invite you to check out LGBT Month ( a month-long event I'm hosting with Laura at Laura Plus Books in April. I think it might be something that would interest you! :)

  3. mypaleo says:

    Ive heard so many good things about this book.

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