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

aristotle-and-dante-discover-the-secrets-of-the-universeWhen I pulled out this book from its package and read the synopsis in the back of it, I realized in five heartbeats that this book was going to be a gay romance book. I pretty much had bad experiences reading romance books in the past (I mean, I don’t like Fault in our Stars, like every other normal person on this earth) and at that point, I do support LGBT relationships. Except that I wasn’t quite ready yet to read a novel about it.

But the cover of the novel itself was crammed with a lot of awards. There was the Stonewall book award, the Pure Belpre award, the Lambda Literary Award and the Micheal Printz award, meaning that this is a very promising book. So I walked over to the nearest sofa, and curled up, book in hand and begun to read.

So the protagonist here is a boy named Aristotle, named right after the Greek philosopher who lived at around the 380 BC in Greece. Almost immediately I could see that Aristotle is a very moody teenager. His current life family would consist of his mother, his very distant father, his elder twin sisters who had grown up and had moved away and his older brother who was basically considered dead, although he was very much still alive and kicking in prison. As I could put the way Ari says it, its prison, not jail. A place where they dump people with a very offensive crime.

That left the readers successfully wondering. Could he be a drug dealer? Maybe he had something to do with violence. But violence usually ends up in jail until some adult bails you out. Maybe, maybe… could Ari’s brother Bernardo be connected to murder?

On that Summer when he was fifteen, Ari–the angsty moody teen–decided to towards the pool although he knew he couldn’t swim. He immediately prided himself for being able to come up with the idea himself. On that very fateful day, Ari met Dante, who was basically the polar opposite of himself. The two boys bonded over quickly, with Dante teaching Ari how to swim.

The plot moved faster over it, just like every other romance novel would. Except that the reader doesn’t immediately slide over into the LGBT bucket. The relationship buds slowly, from them being friends to extreme close best friend. It takes a while for Ari and Dante themselves to realize about their own sexuality.

LGBT romance novels differ a lot from normal romance novels. In normal romance novels, all the characters do is just fall for each other and that’s where they end up. Married or dating. In LGBT romance novels, its a lot different. The characters do end up falling for each other, but they must realize their sexuality first and overcome what society thinks for them. Dante himself got beaten up, and he was referred to as a queer many times in the novel.

Recently, gay marriages happened to be made legal, and not everybody was very happy about it. What follows after that is a ton of debates, even to the point of the Orlando shooting, and even now, not everybody can’t support the LGBT community. At school recently, we’re currently focusing on the book ‘The Chrysalids’ by John Wyndham whose theme revolves a bit around brainwashing.

Are we just too used with accepting the fact that a couple should always end up female and male? Sure, we could point that out and say that the Bible says so, or we could say that its unnatural and its just the brain working, but it happens. Homosexual people aren’t as common as Heterosexual people and we should just deal. with. it. Ducks would sometimes pick a partner of the same sex. A couple of male penguins in a zoo just adopted their first chick batch. It doesn’t only happen to humans, it could happen to other species too and it’s biologically, perfectly, natural.

The author of this book was   Benjamin Alire Saenz who is an American poet and novelist. He also is a writer of children books. His other works that were notable other than ‘Dante and Aristotle’s Secret to the Universe’ were ‘Carry me like Water’ and ‘Everything begins and ends in the Kentucky Club.’ Saenz himself came out gay at the age of 54, which was probably why he was very interested in LGBT themes and probably a prompt that pushed him to write this novel.

This book was amazing. I had my cold feet about it when I read the first chapter, but this book was way batter than ‘The Fault in Our Stars’. It’s really wonderful on how the author intertwined Ari and Dante together over a course of a few years. I also really loved the way on how he portrayed the emotions and feelings felt by a teen and the pressure that they were under. As a teen, I do suffer on some peer pressure occasionally. It either stand out (and trust me, it feels horrible to stand out sometimes) or just stand in with the crowd.



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