Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Poignant, deeply touching, and sensitive, this tender coming of age story centers around two fifteen year old boys: Dante and Ari. It's not easy being fifteen and it's not easy being different. Ari says, "I was fifteen. I was bored. I was miserable." Sounds familiar, right?

Dante and Ari share their dreams and fears, beautiful poetry, good books, and deep conversations. They know they're not like other boys. They are intellectual, thoughtful, and quiet; they are the "good" boys. They cry over a wounded bird. They don't run in a gang, or do drugs, or cause trouble.

Ari wrestles with his family's demons, too. His father is a Vietnam vet who never quite came home--at least not mentally. He's hard to get to know and doesn't talk about Vietnam--ever. Ari's older brother Bernardo is in prison, but it's another topic the family never discusses. Ari feels that his family has too many secrets and wishes someone--his mother or his father--would tell him about Bernardo or about why his dad is so broken.

Recommended by: Pamela Thompson, MLIS, Library Media Specialist, Texas USA

Highly, highly recommended for grades 9-up. Mature situations, discussion of sexual topics, language, LGBT

Visit her ya novels blog at http://booksbypamelathompson.blogspot.com/

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What does it mean to be a boy?  How do you do "boy" right?  Fifteen-year-old Ari is sitting at the pool listening to a bunch of guys describing girls as being like trees with leaves and they just want to take those leaves off of them.  Ari's reaction is disgust and disbelief.  He can't imagine that these guys are comparing girls to trees.  There are a whole lot of things about guys that Ari doesn't believe in.

He's a loner who spends time reading and thinking.  He can be a fighter if he has to be.  He is also a kid with a whole lot of unanswered questions and the older guys in his life, his father and his brother aren't there to give him any answers.

Ari's father is a Vietnam vet who has bad dreams and holds his feelings and his memories deep inside.  Ari's older brother, Bernardo, is in prison.  There are no pictures of Bernardo in Ari's house.  Bernardo is a ghost and no one talks about how he got into prison, how long he'll be there, or if he's ever coming back.

In the midst of this blurred picture Ari meets another fifteen-year-old guy named Dante.  At the pool one day Dante walks up and in an allergy-laden squeaky voice he volunteers to teach Ari how to swim.

A friendship is born.  Two guys who read poetry, who read sad books, who love their mothers, who haven't drunk beer, smoked pot or kissed a girl find they have much in common.  There are after all members of a tribe.

As two summers unfold, both guys make discoveries about themselves, their families and their place in the world.  Are you really made out of the right stuff?  Can you really face those feelings that call to you from so deep within?  Will you be making a huge mistake if you really embrace yourself?

This is a story of courage, of love, of acceptance and of discovery.  Here is a beautiful chance to live inside the mind of a boy as he is becoming a man and learning to accept his natural sexual orientation.  Succinctly written, the action and the journey are fast-paced and thoroughly believable.  Here's a chance to walk in someone else's shoes and see the world from the eye view of a fifteen-year-old Mexican-American boy who is discovering his own sense of what makes the world right, what makes the world wrong and coming to his own decisions about how he will choose to live out his life.

Ages 14 and up  (Sexuality, language, violence)

Recommended by:  Barb, abookandahug.com

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