Friday, February 8, 2013

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Sáenz, Benjamin Alire. 2012. ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRET OF THE UNIVERSE. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.  ISBN 9781442408920 [Suggested Grade Levels 8 – 12]
It isn’t often that one finds a book that accurately and deftly addresses the lives of two young Hispanic men who come to the self-realization of their sexual identity yet Sáenz has done exactly that. Using authentic young adult language and with a Latino accuracy, his characters resound with life, existing in a world that is not perfect yet very real. Dante knows who he is and what he wants from his life. Aristotle, or Ari, doesn’t as he deals with family issues. Yet both boys are introspective and thoughtful with their friendship, their words, and their family relationships.

The turmoil of the teen years is a difficult one to drive through yet Sáenz has crafted a novel of two fifteen year old boys who find the road to self-realization and joy. If a reader is looking for a book written within a formula and a quick culmination of action, this is not the book for them. Rather, Sáenz has taken care with his words, slowly creating a realistic world with two individuals whom the reader gets to know over the course of a year; a year of denials, struggles, and ultimate acceptance. 

This is an excellent read for counseling or school groups of GLBT youth as well as any young adult who wonders and questions about their sexuality. While this novel addresses the male perspective, young women will also relate as Sáenz transcends an identifiable orientation.

Other books of young adults coming of age:
Danforth, Emily. THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST. ISBN 9780062020567

By Christine J. Rayl

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