Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the UniverseI love books about smart well spoken teens.  Benjamin Alire Seanz’s characters Aristotle and Dante are deep and emotionally interesting characters.  The two meet at the pool when Dante offers to teach Aristotle to swim.  Neither one has any real friends.  Over the summer they grow into a deep friendship where they discuss matters of the universe and books.  Not your typical teenage boy dialogue.  The book explores male friendship in a meaningful way. It is only when they think they might lose each other that the author reveals how deep this friendship goes.  The boys both of emotional journeys that help define who they are and who they become.   I loved this book up until the end.  I felt the ending was too tidy and that Aristotle made this change a little too quickly.  The parents are very supportive in this book which is a nice change from many teen books I read.  This book definatly deserved the Printz Honor.  It is very well written and the story and characters are well developed.  If you want a thoughful book about two extraordinary characters, this book is for you.  It might have you question you own thoughts on secrets of the universe.

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

Discuss, “Words were different when they lived inside you.” (pg 31)
Discuss, “Fifteen-year-olds don’t qualify as people.” (pg 8)
Do you think the world is a dark place? (pg 19)
Discuss this passage, “Through the telescope, the world was closer and larger than I ever imagined.  And it was all so beautiful and overwelming and – I don’t know – it made me aware that there was something inside of me that mattered.”
Why do you think Dante didn’t run when he was attacked?
What do you think Dante’s parents expected of Ari when they asked if he would always be his friend?
How do you think learning about his brother changed Ari?
How do you feel about the way their relationship evolved at the end?

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