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I picked up Aristotle and Dante on the recommendation of Dhruv from The Perks of Being Dhruv for #pridereadathon. Anupama from B0rn_to_read was my buddy reader and we had planned to do one part per day and finish it in 7 days. Well, that plan went right down the drain as soon as I started reading.
Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.
How do I begin to describe the beautiful, out-of-this-world experience this book gave me ? I dont think my inadequate words can ever come close to describing the surreal experience this book gave me.
“Another secret of the universe: Sometimes pain was like a storm that came out of nowhere. The clearest summer could end in a downpour. Could end in lightning and thunder.”
Ari was like a reflection of me. His thoughts, his anger at the world and his inexplicable melancholy and sadness was so reminiscent of all my feelings when I was going through the transformation of becoming an adult. Dante was also a sweetheart but it was Ari who truly stole my heart.
“I renamed myself Ari.
If I switched the letter, my name was Air.
I thought it might be a great thing to be the air.
I could be something and nothing at the same time. I could be necessary and also invisible. Everyone would need me and no one would be able to see me.”
The story set in the 80s is more of a gentle summer rain than a thunderstorm of action packed plot. It is a a beautiful slow paced character driven book, exploring friendships and the budding relationship between Ari and Dante. It takes us through the amazing journey of self discovery that Ari and Dante go through in their metamorphosis to adulthood.
“Everyone was always becoming someone else.”
The beautiful ties of friendship and family portrayed in this book will make us wistful for something similar in life. This was in one word, a true masterpiece of brilliant characters and excellent literary prose.
“Senior year. And then life. Maybe that’s the way it worked. High school was just a prologue to the real novel. Everybody got to write you — but when you graduated, you got to write yourself. At graduation you got to collect your teacher’s pens and your parents’ pens and you got your own pen. And you could do all the writing. Yeah. Wouldn’t that be sweet?”
So if you are unsure of your place in this world, the meaning of life or if you are just plain lost, this is a book that will help you write your own story to show the universe.
Related posts you might like: Review of The Hate You Give
About the Author
Benjamin Alire Sáenz (born 16 August 1954) is an award-winning American poet, novelist and writer of children’s books.
He was born at Old Picacho, New Mexico, the fourth of seven children, and was raised on a small farm near Mesilla, New Mexico. He graduated from Las Cruces High School in 1972. That fall, he entered St. Thomas Seminary in Denver, Colorado where he received a B.A. degree in Humanities and Philosophy in 1977. He studied Theology at the University of Louvain in Leuven, Belgium from 1977 to 1981. He was a priest for a few years in El Paso, Texas before leaving the order.
In 1985, he returned to school, and studied English and Creative Writing at the University of Texas at El Paso where he earned an M.A. degree in Creative Writing. While at Stanford University under the guidance of Denise Levertov, he completed his first book of poems, Calendar of Dust, which won an American Book Award in 1992.
His first novel, Carry Me Like Water was a saga that brought together the Victorian novel and the Latin American tradition of magic realism and received much critical attention.
He continues to teach in the Creative Writing Department at the University of Texas at El Paso