Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Narrator: Lin-Manuel Miranda
Format: Hardcover / Paperback / eBook / AudioBook
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Audio Production: Simon & Schuster Audio
Pages: 368 Pages
Length: 7 Hours: 29 minutes
Source: Publisher via Audiobook Jukebox
Genre: 12 and up:
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About the Book:
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.
The award winning author Benjamin Alire Sáenz, has crafted a thoughtful story, that starts a bit slowly, but each and every sentence is important, and brings a sense of the characters as they are introduced. Patience is rewarded, the characters grown and change as they learn about each other and the reader learns about them. While not linear, the point of view narration does jump about as one thought leads in to another, that quiet interior contemplation that we all understand but never voice.
Aristotle is a darker, more reserved kid: he’s thoughtful with a pessimistic outlook on the eventual outcome of situations. Dante is far lighter, one who (in the author’s words) is not good at keeping all of his laughter inside. Dante is truly the more intellectual of the two: sharing poetry and authors, ideas and concepts, all delivered in his perfectly constructed English. Ari is far more insecure, holding secrets closely and often amazed at the honesty Dante displays, insists on in living his life.
As a coming of age story, set in the ‘new revised rules’ of summer this is a wonderful story that encompasses friendship and forgiveness, deals with issues of race identification, sexuality and even self-confidence as the two come to appreciate one another, and form true bonds.
The narration, provided by Lin-Manuel Miranda is wonderful, small distinctions in cadence delineate the characters and without great fuss, the characters of Ari and Dante are unique and instantly recognizable. His clear enunciation and smooth delivery provide the listener the ability to listen to the words being spoken, incorporate their meaning and flow, rather than be distracted by overly exaggerated characterizations.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book – a winner for parents and teens alike. And, while the main characters and issues are fairly specific, the story is not ‘just for boys’. There is something for everyone, and it is wrapped in a story that is very compelling, and suited to that time, when you are 15 and not really a “person” yet.
I received the audiobook version from the publisher via AudioBook Jukebox for purpose of honest review as part of the Heard Word. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.