"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Last week in my Sunday Salon post I reported that Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe was like reading one really long, beautiful poem. I must not have been the only one to feel this way. As the week unfolded there was lots of good news for this lyrical book.  It won a Printz Honor award (One of the best in YA Lit), the Stonewall Award (Best LGBT lit), and the Pura Belpre Award (Best YA lit by Hispanic author.) WOW.  What a week. Lots of recognition and honors for a very deserving book.

Summary: Two Hispanic-American boys meet one summer at the swimming pool. Dante offers to teach Ari to swim and it is the beginning of a very important friendship for both boys. Though they have a lot in common they also have many differences but in the end it is their friendship that saves both of them. And through their friendship they discover important things about themselves, too.
"In breathtaking prose, American Book Award winner Benjamin Alire Saentz captures those moments that make a boy a man as he explores loyalty and trust, friendship and love." -From the book jacket 
Of the five LGBT-themed books I read this season in preparation for the Mock Printz, this one was my favorite for a variety of reasons.  First, I really think that Saenz got the language and internal conflict just right for questioning teens. Everything isn't cut and dried. Everything isn't about sex and sexual thoughts. Sometimes it is just those mind-blowing big questions- "Who am I? How do I fit in the world? Where do I belong?"-  that seem to dominate our thoughts.
 "They were all over me, hugging me and saying nice things, and I wanted to cry. Because their affection was so real and somehow I felt I didn't deserve it...I wanted them to hug me because I was Ari and I would never be just Ari to them. But I had learned to hide what I felt. No, that's not true. There was no learning involved. I had been born knowing how to hide what I felt." -p.242
 "Maybe we just lived between hurting and healing. Like my father. I think that's where he lived. In that in-between space. In that ecotone." - p.335
"We stood there for a long time. Neither of us said anything. I felt small and insignificant and inadequate. I hated feeling that way. I was going to stop feeling that way. I was going to stop..." -p.357
I'm sure that this review and the sample quotes I selected don't even begin to do this book justice. Please just read it and see if you don't agree that this is a wonderful, memorable, and important book.

Through all my youth I was looking for you without knowing what I was looking for. -W.S. Merwin.

1 comment:

  1. I finished this book on Friday and just LOVED it! It is beautiful in so many ways: language, characters, thought, relationships, and more

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