Review: ‘Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe’ by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Review: ‘Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe’ by Benjamin Alire SáenzAristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on February 21st, 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Family, Friendship, LGBT, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 359
Format: Hardcover
Source: bought in-store
A lyrical novel about family and friendship from critically acclaimed author Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

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.

About Benjamin Alire Saenz

Benjamín Alire Sáenz studied at St. Thomas Seminary in Denver Colorado, the University of Louvain in Louvain, Belgium, the University of Texas at El Paso, the University of Iowa and Stanford University where he was a Wallace E. Stegner fellow in poety. While at Stanford, he also pursued his doctoral studies in American Literature. He has studied philosophy, art history, theology, creative writing and literary studies with a focus on twentieth century American poetry.

The Book DepositoryChapters/IndigoGood Reads



Aristotle has the type of personality you know that will confuse you. He’ll say one thing and think the opposite. He’s a walking contradiction. When he saves his best friend Dante’s life, he realizes that friendship is probably one of the most important things in a boy’s life.

Love the family dynamics! There was so much to like. Aristotle’s mom who is fiercely protective of her only son. His dad who shows how much he cares in his actions. Dante’s parents who love him so much and treat him just like an adult. Truly affectionate, Dante’s dad was one of my favourite characters. He seemed so sweet and kind and Aristotle could see he was being genuine as well. Not only do we get to see a beautiful family relationship but a friendship as well. Probably one of the best fictional friendships after the Three Harry Potter kids.


Aristotle and Dante are both so different but they’re also the same. What I found the most meaningful about these characters was their friendship. How loyal and kind and protective they were of each other. There’s a known tension that we see and there are clues but it’s never finally revealed until the end. It reminded me of a cute movie where we get to see the story finished and all the problems solved.


One of my favourite reads of the year, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe made me laugh, cry and giggle all at the same time. Family and friendship are just important and we get to see it all go down in this book. Pick this one up for the beautiful writing and the cute characters, you won’t regret it.

reading progress



Sometimes when people talk, they don’t always tell the truth. (10)
I got to thinking that poems were like people. Some people you got right off the bat. Some people you just didn’t get—and never would get. (29)
I bet you could sometimes find all of the mysteries of the universe in someone’s hand. (140)
When something gets broken, it can be fixed. (150)
Summer was a book of hope. That’s why I loved and hated summers. Because they made me want to believe. (235)
Maybe everyone loves differently. Maybe that’s all that matters. (247)
Maybe dogs were one of the secrets of the universe. (305)
Sometimes, you do things and you do them not because you’re thinking but because you’re feeling. (310)
Maybe the difference between being a boy and being a man is that boys couldn’t control the awful things they sometimes felt. And men could. (310)
Maybe we just lived between hurting and healing. (335)





  1. Pingback: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Book Review | love from lauren

  2. Aliya D

    February 22, 2015 at 1:32 PM

    Thank you for the review. I am always looking for books that have meaningful relationships and leave an indelible impact on your life; love books that leave you with their words via quotes. Thanks.

  3. Lola

    February 4, 2015 at 3:02 PM

    I’ve had this one for a while now, but haven’t picked it up. I seriously need to get on it after reading your review! 🙂

    • giselle

      February 4, 2015 at 9:46 PM

      It’s excellent! What I want in a contemporary, this one has it all

  4. Amber (YA Indulgences)

    January 29, 2015 at 2:13 AM

    Family dynamics are the key to my heart in YA fiction, give me a family, give me parents, give me some drama or regular engagement and I’m in love. <3

    I adored Aristotle and Dante, absolutely adored it. I loved how it was written, I loved Ari and Dante, I loved their clashing personalities, how their friendship developed, how regular their lives were, the action that occurred…It was all just lovely. I really need to buy a physical and/or (probably and) ebook copy of this. <#

  5. Emilee Camareno

    January 28, 2015 at 2:39 AM

    Oh my god this book is so gorgeous!!!

    • giselle

      January 28, 2015 at 11:00 AM

      Inside and out! I love it

  6. Katrina @ Chased By My Imagination

    January 27, 2015 at 9:32 AM

    I loved this book when I read it and gave it 5 stars too! SO MANY FEELS!

    Katrina @ Chased By My Imagination

    • giselle

      January 27, 2015 at 4:43 PM


  7. Zed Whisper (@ZedWhisper)

    January 26, 2015 at 12:51 PM

    I bought a copy of this book a couple of months back just because I liked the look of it and it’s just been sitting on my bookshelf. I love your review, and it’s made me re-think my TBR pile!

    • giselle

      January 27, 2015 at 4:43 PM

      I bought it too because the cover was just so cute. Then when I heard everyone raving about it, I knew I had to read it already.

  8. Books in the Burbs

    January 26, 2015 at 9:27 AM

    I love the synopsis of this book! I am adding it to my TBR list and buying a copy for my son, who happens to be studying Aristotle and has studied Dante already. Great review!!

    • giselle

      January 27, 2015 at 5:25 PM

      I hope you enjoy it. I’m so glad he’s studying them both 😀

      • Books in the Burbs

        January 27, 2015 at 11:25 PM

        He’s in Honors College, studying Creative Writing. So, I’m quite proud of him and thankful I still reader these great writers and literary work to have a meaningful discussion with him. Lol!

        • giselle

          January 28, 2015 at 2:13 PM

          That’s incredible! A proud mom 🙂 Aww I’m so happy he gets to work with books too

  9. Savindi

    January 26, 2015 at 9:17 AM

    I’m so glad you enjoyed this one! This is one of my all time favourite YA books! I really loved the parents in this book. I don’t think I’ve come across a lot of YA books where I genuinely liked the parents, but I loved Ari and Dante’s. They were so real and I loved that we see their flaws too. The quotes are just so beautiful :).

    • giselle

      January 27, 2015 at 5:28 PM

      It became a favourite of mine too. The parents are just so wonderful. I love them too. Flaws over perfection!

  10. Michelle @ Pink Polka Dot Books

    January 26, 2015 at 8:57 AM

    I LOVED Dante’s dad!!! And the friendship!! This book was beautiful and unique! I love all the quotes you picked out… it’s definitely a quotable book 🙂

    • giselle

      January 27, 2015 at 5:28 PM

      Me too. Both his parents are so wonderful! AHH I love it so much. There’s a lot of beautiful quotes in it for sure

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