Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Hardcover, 359 pages, Simon & Schuster, List Price: $16.99 | purchase

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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
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Book Summary

Fifteen-year-old Ari Mendoza is an angry loner with a brother in prison, but when he meets Dante and they become friends, Ari starts to ask questions about himself, his parents, and his family that he has never asked before.

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Award-winning author Benjamin Alire Saenz is also the author of Calendar of Dust and He Forgot to Say Goodbye. Vantage Studios/Simon and Schuster hide caption

itoggle caption Vantage Studios/Simon and Schuster

Critics' Lists: Summer 2012

Teen Reads: Summer Books For You And Your BFF

Moving from the intricacies of teen female friendship to the complexities of the male variety, we have Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, a coming-of-age novel as deep and powerful as its title is long. Two Mexican-American teens living in El Paso in the 1980s, Dante and Ari could scarcely be more different. But through their years of growing up, apart and together in the pages of this lyrical novel, they are able to become more to each other than either could

L. Lee Butler

Note: Book excerpts are provided by the publisher and may contain language some find offensive.

Excerpt: Aristotle And Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe


ONE SUMMER NIGHT I FELL ASLEEP, HOPING THE WORLD would be different when I woke. In the morning, when I opened my eyes, the world was the same. I threw off the sheets and lay there as the heat poured in through my open window.

My hand reached for the dial on the radio. "Alone" was playing. Crap, "Alone," a song by a group called Heart. Not my favorite song. Not my favorite group. Not my favorite topic. "You don't know how long . . ."

I was fifteen.

I was bored.

I was miserable.

As far as I was concerned, the sun could have melted the blue right off the sky. Then the sky could be as miserable as I was.

The DJ was saying annoying, obvious things like, "It's summer! It's hot out there!" And then he put on that retro Lone Ranger tune, something he liked to play every morning because he thought it was a hip way to wake up the world. "Hi-yo, Silver!" Who hired this guy? He was killing me. I think that as we listened to the William Tell Overture, we were supposed to be imagining the Lone Ranger and Tonto riding their horses through the desert. Maybe someone should have told that guy that we all weren't ten-year-olds anymore. "Hi-yo, Silver!" Crap. The DJ's voice was on the airwaves again: "Wake up, El Paso! It's Monday, June fifteenth, 1987! 1987! Can you believe it? And a big 'Happy Birthday' goes out to Waylon Jennings, who's fifty years old today!" Waylon Jennings? This was a rock station, dammit! But then he said something that hinted at the fact that he might have a brain. He told the story about how Waylon Jennings had survived the 1959 plane crash that killed Buddy Holly and Richie Valens. On that note, he put on the remake of "La Bamba" by Los Lobos.

"La Bamba." I could cope with that.

I tapped my bare feet on the wood floor. As I nodded my head to the beat, I started wondering what had gone through Richie Valens's head before the plane crashed into the unforgiving ground. Hey, Buddy! The music's over.

For the music to be over so soon. For the music to be over when it had just begun. That was really sad.

© 2012 Benjamin Alire SÁenz

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