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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz - Book Review

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Publication details: 359 pp; Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; February 21, 2012

We are in Pride Month, and it would be illogical for me to start talking about LGBTQ+ books that are important to me and not mention Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.

Set in El Paso, Texas in 1987, Aristotle and Dante follow the lives of two fifteen-year-old teens, who apparently don't have anything in common, except for the fact they both are Mexican-American kids.

Ari Mendoza is a loner who finds it hard to relate with others. With a brother in prison who his parents never talk about, and a father dealing with his ghosts of the Vietnam war, Ari hasn't had an easy life. Dante Quintana, meanwhile, is outgoing and self-assured. He was an extraordinary family who loves him and accepts him.

One summer day, they meet at the town's swimming pool. Dante offers to teach Ari how to swim. They start to spend time together, and their friendship grows. Through painting and poetry, Dante tries to help Ari sees the good in life. Soon Ari becomes not only an essential part of his life but also his parents' lives. But an accident occurs by the end of summer, and Ari and Dante's relationship will be put to the test.

With in-depth but straightforward dialogues, the author tells a compelling story about the importance of friendship, acceptance, and sexual identity.

What did I like the most? I loved seeing how Ari grows in two years in which the story is told, especially after all the pain, loss, secrets, and self-acceptance issues he needs to deal with.

I won't spoil the ending, but this is one of my favorite LGBTQ+ YA book endings for sure!

Does anyone know any similar books like this? I would love to read your recommendations in the comments section!

Follow the author on Instagram as @border_poet