Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author: Benjamin Alire Saenz
Favorite quote: “Boys like me belongs to the rain.”
This is the first book that I read for the Books & Beyond Club (via Instagram). Before I get started with my reaction to the novel, I want to tell you all a little bit about Books & Beyond Club. It’s just a book club. Simple. How do you join? Just go to their @booksandbeyondclub account on Instagram and read along. The September theme was chosen and its book has already been voted on, so you’ll be reading another reaction for Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker sometime in September. It’s an account run by eight bookstagrammers and the books are all available in both English and German (because the eight girls speak those two languages). As you read, post with #readwithbnbclub and go view the posts with that hashtag to connect with others who are participating. The first month was really great and I look forward to taking part in the following months. Really, I recommend it.
Now to get to the good part! Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe was beautiful. Sometimes you read those books that make you feel, but this book did more than that: I was so engrossed that I felt I’d become the main character and felt nothing. It was an overall wonderful experience to have been emotionally connected to an emotionally inept teenage boy. His struggles were mine, and in the end, as was his final lasting emotion (that I will not spoil because those of you who have read it know, but those who haven’t really need to find out on their own!).
At first, I really didn’t care much for it. The narrator felt like just another John Green character and it was very dull. As the story progressed, however, I began to enjoy the dullness – the normality and abnormality of it. It was real and raw. The dialogue was clumsy, like the conversations of awkward teenagers. It was perfect. As for the narration itself… I haven’t been this acutely aware of my senses in a while. Now only did it make me feel, but it made me wonder and appreciate everything that I couldn’t empathize with. It was dreadfully gorgeous. Everything about it.
Last point that I’m going to discuss: the theme for August was LGBT. Though I’d heard of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe prior to picking it up for the book club, I wasn’t really sure what I was going to be reading. The whole point of joining a book club, though, is to expand your horizons. At the beginning, I thought that Ari and Dante just made great best friends and that the theme of the month was to read between the lines. By the end, though, I was doing my best to keep from bawling like a baby in the library over the couple. I’ve read a few man/man love stories before, but this is the first novel that I’ve ever read with that theme dominating; let me just say that I loved it. It was so emotionally heart-wrenching that I can’t imagine a reader making it through the book without rooting for the two of them, no matter what happens.
To conclude: I loved it; I recommend it. Go – read it.