Queer Book Review

Fri, 2017/09/15

This week, we’re reviewing an essential LGBT+ book: "Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe" by Benjamin Alire Sàenz.  Set in the summer of 1987, "Aristotle and Dante" is a coming-of-age story that explores the unique struggle of a blossoming love that only closeted, queer individuals can feel. Largely told from Aristotle "Ari" Mendoza’s point-of-view, "Aristotle and Dante" is a literary dance between two young Mexican-American men: the out and whimsical artist, Dante, and the closeted and down-to-earth worker, Ari. Ari’s struggle with his newfound homosexuality, as with many closeted individuals, is largely silent. Even in his internal narration, Ari never puts his love for Dante into words; Sàenz is able to weave a profound and unspoken devotion throughout the book, showing the love felt by both characters through their actions for one another.

Unlike many books dealing with young love, this book is not solely focused on the relationship between the young men. Realistic and relatable, Aristotle and Dante shows the reader Ari’s daily life and his difficulties with finding himself in a world that he doesn’t quite seem to fit into. With a fantastical beginning and a satisfyingly sweet end, Sàenz effortlessly creates a classic love story that most authors struggle to find. Tactfully dealing with many of the unspoken issues and struggles that come with being a young queer individual, "Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe" is a must read; and with a sequel coming soon, there’s no better time than now for readers to fall in love with Ari and Dante.