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The student news site of Millbrook High School

Cat Talk

The student news site of Millbrook High School

Cat Talk

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Unravel the Pages: “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe”

“Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” is a beautiful tale of acceptance, love, and growing up.
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“Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” is a beautiful tale of acceptance, love, and growing up.

  “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” by Benjamin Alire Sáenz is a queer coming-of-age young adult novel following two young Mexican-American boys, Aristotle “Ari” Mendoza and Dante Quintana.

  Despite being published in 2012, “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe ” found immense popularity almost a decade later around 2020. This resulted in a sequel, “Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World” in 2021, and a film adaptation in 2022.

  The book takes place in El Paso, Texas in the summer of 1987. It is written in first person from the point of view of Ari, a 15-year-old boy waiting for his life to begin. 

  Because of the first person perspective, the reader is really able to get to know Ari’s character through his thoughts. At the beginning of the book, Ari is a quiet kid with no friends, spending most of his time by himself. He’s young and confused about everything, he’s a mystery even to himself.

  Sophomore Grey Hall says, “Ari is for sure my favorite, he’s such a relatable character. I felt like I really understood his constant desire to know things – about himself, his family, the world- and how frustrating it was when he failed to gain such knowledge.”

  All this changes when Ari meets Dante at a public pool. Dante offers to teach Ari how to swim and from then on, the two are inseparable.

  Dante is unlike anyone Ari has ever met before. He reads poetry, he’s kind and genuine, he’s an artist. Dante is also really vulnerable and open about his emotions, something which Ari doesn’t seem to understand and often worries about. Ari worries Dante is too soft for the world.

  The two boys often talk about being teenagers, growing up Mexican-American, and their family. Ari isn’t really close with either of his parents or his older sisters, and he doesn’t even know his older brother who is in prison and never talked about. Dante on the other hand is an only child that is obsessed with his parents, a dynamic that confuses Ari, but eventually rubs off on him as he becomes closer with his own family throughout the book and sequel.

  Sophomore Jackie Guifarro says, “I think the message of the book is that it’s okay to not know what you want when you’re a teenager, it’s normal to be confused about where you stand in the world. But having friends and family along the way can make growing up easier.”

  Ari really struggles with his sexuality throughout the book. Dante is pretty open about his feelings toward Ari early on, but Ari is a lot more hesitant. He denies his feelings for Dante are anything more than platonic. This leads Ari to sort of distance himself from Dante when Dante moves away for a year. He doesn’t respond to letters or answer calls. But eventually, Ari is able to accept his feelings for Dante and the two have a really beautiful moment at the end of the book.

  “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” wonderfully depicts the struggles of adolescence, growing up Hispanic, and dealing with internalized homophobia as well as the blatant homophobia of the 80’s. The evolution of Ari and Dante’s relationship is a really beautiful and lovely thing to watch unfold. Along with Ari’s development throughout the book, in all aspects of his life. He becomes more confident and comfortable with himself, he grows closer to his family, and gains a few friends along the way.

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About the Contributor
Leah Rodriguez-Romero
Hi! My name is Leah, I'm a sophomore and this is my first year being part of the Cat Talk. I really love to read and crochet and I'm very excited to be a part of this staff and to begin writing!

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