Have I ever mentioned how much I love books?
Well, now I have, and there is one book that has occupied a special place in my heart, next to all my favourite young adult fantasy novels – Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe.
I stumbled across this beautiful work of art as I was searching Tumblr for book recommendations. The cover kind of caught my eye and the plot summary seemed very appealing, so I decided to give it a try, and bought it.
Do I have to explain that I was very excited when I finally got it in the mail?
Now I could write paragraphs about the plot, structured analyses of the book’s characters and their development, Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s writing style, but I don’t intend to write an actual critic.
I’d rather express my strong feelings for the story that managed to touch me within its first few pages. You get introduced to a universe through the eyes of fifteen-year-old Ari who struggles growing up, who doesn’t know who he is and who he wants to become, who doesn’t know how to express his feelings verbally, who feels miserable and wants the world to end, or at least change for the better.
The reader meets the protagonist in summer, where different rules are applied to life, who meets Dante at the pool who becomes his first real friend. In the course of the book Ari slowly starts to grow, finds out more about himself and about the relationships to his mother and father, other people in his life, and his best friend of course.
One thing I loved about the story is the perspective it is told through. Ari grew on me so quickly, I adore his introverted, secluded character; his awkwardness around people; his inability to properly express his feelings. Is it a strange thing to say that I can relate to him on so many levels? While reading the book I felt like I built a connection to him which made me fall so much more for the entire book.
But on the other hand there is Dante, this open-hearted, uncensored kid that doesn’t refrain from showing his emotions, who can talk to people, who never loses an argument, who is admittedly crazy about his parents and who loves Ari unconditionally.
I don’t want to spoil too much concerning the plot, but both of them have to face difficulties, each one on his own but also concerning their friendship. Oftentimes it isn’t easy for them, but Sáenz doesn’t describe these issues in a cheesy way. This brings me to the next reason why I like this book so much:
The way it was written – mostly short sentences, easy vocabulary, but absolutely beautiful nevertheless, each sentence artfully constructed so I’d like to wallpaper an entire house with its pages because they are pleasing on an aesthetical level.
After having finished my lecture I fell in a deep void of “after-reading-frustration”, where literally all my thoughts circled around Ari and Dante and the story I had just read. I’m not exaggerating when I say that all I did that evening was lying around, suffering because of the ending.
I re-read Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe twice now, once this summer while sitting on a footbridge with a beautiful view at a lake, and once just now, starting yesterday, going to bed too late because I just wasn’t physically able to put the book away, even though I knew the plot.
This should speak for itself, but I’d just like to emphasise how emotional this book makes me and how close I’ve kept it to my heart since I had started reading it for the first time.