English reading : english writing.
« He looks like a guy who was in love with beeing alive »
Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe is a young adult novel from Benjamin Alire Saenz. We follow the everyday life of Aristotle, a 15 years old Mexican-American boy who struggles to find his place on the world. He doesn’t have real friends and feels like he is living another person’s life. One day at the pool, he meets Dante and together, they start trying to understand the mysteries of the world around them.
This story is really character driven. There is not a lot of action and mainly discussions between the different characters. We follow Aristotle who struggles to talk to his dad, Aristotle who wants to know what happened to his brother who is in jail, Aristotle who is always angry at everyone and doesn’t know why. In my opinion, while all the characters are amazing, the story is pretty basic with plots we already saw elsewhere.
For example when Dante has to leave at the end of the summer or the car accident.
The connection between Aristotle and Dante is strong and beautiful and we are waiting for this friendship to become more but the love story comes too late for me. I wanted to know more about it and not just how it started. For a novel called « discover the secrets of the univers », some teenager topics are missing and the ending was a little bit to easy and clumsy. I am not a fan of « the reason I was so angry was because I did not want to face who I am and who I love » when he has a lot of other reasons to be mad.
Nevertheless, this is overall a really good story about love, the issues a Mexican-American teenager is facing, family, and life in general.
As I was saying earlier, the characters are what makes the novel. The dynamic between Aristotle and Dante is unique and sounds real. Both of them have their own identity, their own way of speaking and their own way to communicate their feelings. Aristotle is a time bomb, he is lost and do not like to talk much about himself. On the contrary, Dante is calm, pure and he likes to talk a lot about himself and everything around him.
This express the fact that their family dynamics are completely different. Dante loves his mom and dad more than anything and he is not affraid to say that they are his best friends. Aristotle talks to his mom but some topics, such as his brother, are taboo and this creates a distance between them, whether they are aware of it or not. He is not talking to his father at all because he is traumatise by war and don’t want to talk anymore.
Even when they are together, Dante is the one talking most of the time. But it doesn’t avoid them to create a strong and one of a kind friendship. I loved both of them and the side characters as well because everyone is complexe and interesting.
I was sure this book would become one of my favourite books because I heared so many good things about it. Sadly, while I liked it a lot, it was not as perfect as I expected. For this reason, I give this book a 16/20. It was beautifuly writen, I will remember the characters for a long time but overall, I read other similar books I prefered. They both die at the end by Adam Silvera for example.