June 24, 2013

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

Narrated by Lin-Manuel Miranda
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio (2013)
Length: 7 hours, 29 minutes (Unabridged)

I received a copy of this audiobook from the publisher via Audiobook Jukebox.

Description: “A lyrical novel about family and friendship from critically acclaimed author Benjamin Alire Sáenz. 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.”

My Review:

I've had this title on my radar for a while, since it’s been winning tons of awards recently (Stonewall Book Award, Printz Honor, YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults--Top Ten, Pura Belpré Author Award, and Lambda Literary Foundation Award for LGBT Children’s/Young Adult). Plus the cover kept drawing me in. How gorgeous is that? I went into the book with high expectations, and it definitely did not disappoint. 

This was a quiet and beautiful coming of age story filled with honest, authentic characters. I felt as if the characters were very real and their complicated relationships were portrayed perfectly. Ari and Dante’s friendship grows and changes over time. Ari comes to appreciate his imperfect but loving parents, and he begins to learn about everything that happened with his brother. 

While the story was slow-paced, I didn't mind because I loved the writing so much. I wanted to savor every word! Overall, I found it to be a thought-provoking story of self-discovery and self-acceptance. Ari struggles with questions of ethnic and sexual identity, but ultimately discovers that he doesn't need to be ashamed of being different. 

I really enjoyed the audiobook performance! The narrator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, sounded believable as a teenage boy, and he clearly differentiated between characters when speaking. I was drawn in from the first few sentences, and I feel like I connected more with Ari when listening to the narrator than I might have when reading in print. This was an emotional listening experience—I found myself smiling, sighing, gasping, and laughed out loud while I was listening. I even had to fight back the tears at a few points. I cannot recommend this audiobook enough! 


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