A beautiful, powerful coming of age story.


Aristotle "Ari" Mendoza (15) has no plans for the summer. With nothing to do, no friends, and a family who won't talk about his brother Bernado, who is in prison, he spends a lot of time being angry. To relieve the boredom, he decides to go to a local pool to swim, even though he doesn't know how.

There he meets Dante Quintana, who offers to teach him. Their "classical" names is the catalyst for a friendship that is unbreakable. Just as school is about to resume, Dante announces that his family is moving temporarily to Chicago. Despite the distance, the boys remain in contact and, the next summer, when Dante's family returns, the friendship resumes. Each has changed, though secrets remain.

BTSYA / Teen Reader (17):
This is very easy for me to love, and it is one of my favorite books. The story is simple, but extremely beautiful and unique. Every page had something special, and I found myself laughing and crying multiple times. Everything in this story is meaningful to me: from the way it was written to the different titles and quotes, as well as the characters and their relationships. Each character has something interesting about them, even Legs. The boys’ parents are supportive and understanding, which makes them especially likeable. Dante i sa rare individual: he is an open, caring and expressiveboy who loves novels, poetry and philosophy. Ari on the other hand, can be quite moody and insecure at times, but he is alsoan exceptionally protective, loyal and curious. At the beginning of the story he is a hard person to understand, but as thestory progresses and Ari learns more about himself, readers also find out who he truly is on the inside.

Everyone can learn something from the story. Having read this book as a teen myself, I was able to relate to a lot of things in it, and I think other teens will be able to connect to it as well. I recommend buying it so that you can pick it up and put it down whenever you like.

This is a book I would recommend to anyone, but especially teens15 and older. There are a few curse words in the book, and it talks about topics that are more appropriate for this audience: racial and ethnic identity, masculinity, sexuality, and family relationships. Overall,this is a novel about self-discovery and acceptance. It flows flawlessly and is a very enjoyable reading experience.

Content Awareness Factors:

The plot contains profanity, violence, and drug use. Please do not use the reading level as a guide to determining the book's audience. This is a young adult novel written for teens.

Type of Book:
This is a coming of age novel set in the 1980s.
Educational Themes:

From the boy's personalities and individual discoveries to family dynamics and acceptance, the opportunities for discussion are endless. This is a book that can be the foundation of creating a "safe space" for kids to ask questions or share information, and not just about being gay. Issues of mental health, family history, PTSD, are all woven into the plot.

Reading Level:
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
15 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
14 and Up
Age of child:
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™ . Reviewer age: 17
Purchase Recommendation:
Buy. This is a lovely coming-of-age story and Ari and Dante are friends readers may come back to hang out with from time to time.

Title Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Book 1

Author Benjamin Alire Saenz
Publisher Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Imprint Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing © 2014 (Reprint Edition)
ISBN 9781442408937
Material Paperback
Cost $14.99
Genres Friendship, Contemporary Fiction
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