LGBTuesday: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Happy LGBTuesday, readers! We’re back to talking about queer books this Tuesday with the novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.

The book is told from the perspective of Ari (short for Aristotle) Mendoza, a Hispanic high school student. It’s divided into six different parts that each focus around a different time in Ari’s life.

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This is a coming of age story, one about the Hispanic American experience, family relationships and sexual identity. At the beginning of the story Ari is bored and not sure how to spend his summer, so he goes to the local pool where he meets another boy his age, Dante Quintana.

Ari and Dante become friends over that summer and the book explores the way their friendship evolves during high school. Dante comes out quickly and knows that he likes boys, but Ari doesn’t feel the same. His complications with his relationship with his parents and his Hispanic identity are in conflict with such an identity.

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The book is written in almost a poetic style, as it is quite descriptive in its use of language and has a number of plot points which are symbolic of something going on in the lives of Aristotle and Dante. This book, like many others focusing on young queer identities is a coming out story, though it is written in a more unique and interesting way than most.

Ari’s struggles with his identity feel reminiscent of real life in the way that he doesn’t really know what he wants and struggles because of various influences which include his parents and societal expectations. It’s not the kind of story where the character is sure they are gay and is just trying to keep that a secret still.

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It feels more authentic. There isn’t necessarily one way to come out or come to terms with your identity and this story is different from many of the main stream ones and might strike a chord that those who had a hard time realizing their own queer identity may relate more to.

The Library has one copy of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe in our Teen Fiction section under the author’s last name, Saenz. You can place a hold on the book or find it in our catalog here.