“Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” Book Review


Sarah Buckelew, Writer

“Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” by Benjamin Alire Sáenz provided a very pleasurable and enriching reading experience. The two major characters were realistically written and intriguing to follow throughout their journey. They tackled life’s difficulties in a very real way and progressed meaningfully as characters.

As a high school student, I found the book particularly enjoyable to read as it did an excellent job of portraying the struggles of growing up and coming to terms with one’s own self and identity. The feelings of confusion Aristotle and Dante both felt at the world surrounding them and how they fit into it were very relatable emotions. Aristotle’s confrontations with shame and inadequacy were also very easy to empathize with.

The story, however, is not just written for teens. Although seen through the teenagers’ eyes, the adults still came off as three dimensional characters with their own struggles.

The book at its core is about the complexity of human connections. With writing that is both clever and poetic, the story of Dante and Aristotle explores the difficulty of communication as well as our ability to love imperfect people.

All the characters in the story carry their own flaws and struggles with them, but despite their shortcomings and despite the times they fall short for each other, it remains evident that they each care deeply for one another and that the love they share helps to confront and heal the flaws they hold.

My one hold out on the book was that I felt the ending was an overly simplistic storybook ending for two very complicated characters in such a transient phase of life.

After reading a book that had taken such care in highlighting the complexity of human interactions, I found that the ending seemed to tie up the loose ends too easily, leaving little hint of mystery or uncertainty in the characters future.

Regardless of the ending, however, I would definitely suggest the work as a wonderfully written story about love and connection, that relates easily to the struggles and experiences of the high school student.