Thursday, July 12, 2012

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz has been on my radar since I ran across it on a few blogs.  At the time I was very much unaware of Saenz's work, but just yesterday discovered I actually own another one of his books, Last Night I Sang to the Monster.
Aristotle and Dante are two Mexican American teenage boys.  While Dante is close to his father and his family is openly affectionate, Ari feels distance between him and his father, who seems to have some demons to deal with after serving in Vietnam. There is also the secret surrounding Ari's older brother who is in prison.  His parents never talk about him and it happened to long ago that Ari can barely remember his big brother.
Both boys are in need of a friend, and the two develop a great relationship.  This novel spans a few years time, and both boys try to understand who they are in terms of their heritage and their sexuality.  I loved the fact that Saenz's characters were Mexican American. Sadly, I can only think of one other middle grade or young adult novel that has male Mexican American characters. I wish there were more books out there representing this group since so many of my students fall into it.
Although I was a bit surprised by the ending, I liked this novel a lot. This is my first experience with Saenz's work, and since I have now discovered I own a previous novel, I will have to move it up on my TBR stack.

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