|Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe|
Author: Saenz, Benjamin Alire
Fifteen-year-old Ari Mendoza is an angry loner with a brother in prison, but when he meets Dante and they become friends, Ari starts to ask questions about himself, his parents, and his family that he has never asked before.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: UG
Reading Level: 2.90
Points: 8.0 Quiz: 149873
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 9-12
Reading Level: 4.30
Points: 17.0 Quiz: 55547
Kirkus Reviews (+) (12/01/12)
School Library Journal (+) (00/02/12)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (00/03/12)
The Hornbook (00/03/12)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 02/01/2012 Gr 9 Up—In the summer of 1987 in El Paso, TX, two 15-year-old loners meet when Dante offers to teach Ari to swim, and they have a laugh over their unusual names. Though polar opposites in most aspects other than age and Mexican heritage, the teens form an instant bond and become inseparable. This poetic novel takes Ari, brooding and quiet, and with a brother in prison, and Dante, open and intellectual, through a year and a half of change, discovering secrets, and crossing borders from which there is no return. Two incidents, one in which Ari saves Dante's life and his family's temporary move to Chicago, help Dante understand that he is gay and in love with his friend. Yet, Ari can't cross that line, and not until Dante is hospitalized in a gay-bashing incident does he begin to realize the true depth of the love he has for him. With the help of his formerly distant, Vietnam-damaged father, Ari is finally able to shed his shame—the shame of his anger, of his incarcerated brother, of being different—and transition from boy to man. While this novel is a bit too literary at times for some readers, its authentic teen and Latino dialogue should make it a popular choice.—Betty S. Evans, Missouri State University, Springfield - Copyright 2012 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 01/01/2012 When Aristotle and Dante meet, in the summer of 1987, they are 15-year-olds existing in “the universe between boys and men.” The two are opposites in most ways: Dante is sure of his place in the world, while Ari feels he may never know who he is or what he wants. But both are thoughtful about their feelings and interactions with others, and this title is primarily focused on the back-and-forth in their relationship over the course of a year. Family issues take center stage, as well as issues of Mexican identity, but the heart of the novel is Dante’s openness about his homosexuality and Ari’s suppression of his. Sáenz (Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood, 2004) writes toward the end of the novel that “to be careful with people and words was a rare and beautiful thing.” And that’s exactly what Sáenz does—he treats his characters carefully, giving them space and time to find their place in the world, and to find each other. This moves at a slower pace than many YA novels, but patient readers, and those struggling with their own sexuality, may find it to be a thought-provoking read. - Copyright 2012 Booklist.
Bulletin for the Center... - 03/01/2012 It’s the beginning of a long, hot summer in El Paso in 1987, and fifteen-year-old Ari is restless and bored when a boy named Dante offers to teach him to swim. Dante’s open demeanor is attractive to Ari, who’s never really had a good friend before, and the two boys soon become inseparable despite their differences. Dante is bookish and sweet, while Ari likes to brood, specifically about his older brother whom his family never mentions because he’s in prison. When Dante is almost hit by a car, Ari risks his life to save him and then pulls back emotionally from Dante’s effusive gratitude, but it isn’t until Dante moves away for the school year and begins experimenting with his sexuality, eventually coming to realize that he likes boys, that Ari really has to confront the secrets of his own universe. While there are lots of plot twists and some homophobic violence, there is little real conflict; instead, this is primarily a character- and relationship-driven novel, written with patient and lyrical prose that explores the boys’ emotional lives with butterfly-wing delicacy. Focalized through Ari, who feels that “the problem with my life was that it was someone else’s idea,” this teen loner tale leavens its angst with a considerable amount of wit, especially in Ari’s conversations with his mother. Readers may note that Ari’s character never really overcomes his main problem, as it is his remarkably sensitive parents who ultimately clue him in to his deepest feelings for Dante and push him to accept them, but he seems to adjust to the situation as they help him realize that getting it right in this life doesn’t mean not making mistakes along the way. KC - Copyright 2012 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.