Book Review – Aristotle & Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe

Image result for aristotle and dante

Right, let me start off by saying that I was quite skeptical about this book for a number of reasons.

  1. Because its YA and my experiences with YA haven’t been overly amazing and I do prefer adult novels
  2. Because this is a gay love story and in my opinion it is very very rare for a gay love story to be written in an original and beautiful way
  3. It has a lot of hype around it, and I didn’t want to be let down.

Now, I’ll let you in on a little secret, something I’m going to admit, that no one every really likes to admit but its healthy and you learn from it…I WAS COMPLETELY. UTTERLY. COULDN’T HAVE BEEN MORE. wrong.

This book is a super quick read, I read this whilst on my way to London for a couple of days with my boyfriend. But it made to five hour journey across the great north to south England divide absolutely enthralling.

I never dog ear pages, ever, but this book is SO DOG EARED. I just kept marking pages with beautiful quotes, and there are so many. Benjamin Alire Saenz has a way with words that I haven’t encountered too much in my reading life, which made me stop and re-read lines over and over again because there were so so wonderful.

Basically, this is a coming of age story of two boys, Aristotle and Dante. Both of Mexican heritage, with which to story explores the idea of racial identity and the way in which some people try to dilute their own race when maneuvering through the world. It explores families who have to deal with their children in prison. It explores anger, and suppression, and all the things teenagers go through in their high school years, and I don’t think there is anyone who could read this book without seeing themselves projecting in some way back to them from the page. It explores sexuality, and coming to terms with the fact you might not be the same as the people around you. It has so many themes and doesn’t fail with any of them at getting the theme across in a stunning way.

This book is one which features later this year on the Banging Book Club’s reading list which I plan on joining with this year, so I won’t go into massive amounts of detail because I’ll be rereading it and I’m sure I’ll notice more things and have more ideas about the book but I’ll just end this little review with a couple of my favorite lines from the book.

My mother and father held hands. I wondered what that was like, to hold someone’s hand. I bet you could sometimes find all of the mysteries of the universe in someone’s hand

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I wondered about the science of storms and how sometimes it seemed that a storm wanted to break the world, and how the world refused to break

And finally the author’s dedication is as wonderful as his writing;

To all the boys who’ve had to learn to play by different rules

This book is a thing of beauty, and I want to buy and million copies and scatter them across the earth.

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5 LGBT Themed Books I Want To Read

To be honest with you guys, as a book lover, and as a gay man, I don’t think I have ever read an LGBT themed book. I seem to remember taking one out of the library at college about six or seven years ago, it was about a cello player in Brighton I think? I don’t know, but from what I remember is was a sort of gay coming of age story? I might have dreamt it though because I can’t remember what the title was one bit. Aaaaaanyway I’m going to list five LGBT themed books which I am interested in reading very soon.

1. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

This is the latest book I have bought and it just turned out that there are LGBT elements within it! I had no idea when I bought it, but then when it arrived I saw that it had won a Stonewall Book Award. I’ve heard absolutely amazing things about this book, but have steered clear of anything to do with the plot because I really want to go into this one without really knowing anything.

2. Boy Meets Boy

I heard about this book YEARS ago, and it was the first book I heard of that was primarily focused on gay characters. In recent months I have heard some amazing things about David Levithan’s work so I’m really interested in taking this book as a starting block for his work.

3. I’ll Give You The Sun

This book was recommended to be by a girl I work with. I believe it is this years winner of the Stonewall Book Award for YA fiction, an award that I didn’t even know existed until picking up Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe so I may have to take a deeper look into the past winners in my quest to read more things LGBT. From what I gather this book is about a set of twins who fall in love with the same guy and I’m sure it’s funny and heartbreaking and everything I love in a YA novel.

4. Brokeback Mountain

The film adaptation of this story ripped my heart to shreds, so naturally I want to relive that pain in word form, as you do. I have been interested in reading more short stories and I love the premise of this story. The film itself is extremely important in the evolution of LGBT culture, and I don’t hear many people talking about the book itself so I’m very much looking forward to reading this one.

5. More Than This

I am new to Patrick Ness’ writing, having just recently read A Monster Calls and falling in love with his work, so to learn that he has written a novel with LGBT elements really excites me! Everything I have heard about this story says that you should just walk into it blind, so I have NO IDEA what it is about, but I;m very excited to get my hands on this!

A book worth mentioning but I’m not sure if I’ll read but lets just bring attention to it anyway..

George

This is a CHILDREN’S book about a TRANSGENDER character. This is SO IMPORTANT. I am so excited that this book has been published and it will teach children that it is okay to be who you want to be and the whole idea of it just makes me so happy. I’m not sure if I’ll get round to it, given that it is a children’s novel, but who knows, maybe my curiosity will get the better of me.