Books, LGBT, Recommendations

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Benjamin Alire Saenz


I got to thinking that one of my jobs in the world was to laugh at Dante’s joke‬s.

Before the half term break, while we were choosing holiday books for a colleague’s daughter, I asked Katie whether she’d read this, and whether it was good. Yes, and yes, she said, with a decisive nod. Technically, I’m supposed to be reading books I have at home, but we all know how well that goes whenever I try it. So I picked this up, along with a couple of comics and another novel, and I took them all home. I started it on Sunday, when I needed something smaller than The Essex Serpent to take out with me for the day, and I finished it – the second half, all in one go – on Tuesday afternoon.

Aristotle and Dante meet at the swimming pool, and strike up an unlikely friendship: they’re very different boys, with very different lives, and neither very good at making friends. This is a book about working things out, about the different journeys that people take, sometimes towards the same point, about regret, about honesty and lying to protect, about family, about the cruel hand of fate, about being Mexicans in America and how that unites and divides people and communities, about discovering all the different facets of sexuality as a teenager. It’s lovely, and it made me cry, more than once, and I’m certainly going to add it to my list for the next time someone asks me to recommend them a book.


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