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

June 30, 2016 Audio Books, Coming of Age, Young Adult Fiction 22

My Dearest Bookworms,

You know how I really love audio books? And how I also really love Hamilton, and by extension, Lin-Manuel Miranda? I’m actually considering writing an entire post on the subject because I haven’t been THIS fangirly since high school. Because I’m fangirling so hard, I was checking Lin-Manuel’s IMDB just to see if he’d been in stuff I’d seen without me realizing it (which yes, yes that definitely happened.) BUT THEN. I saw that he was credited as having narrated some audio books. I remember seeing Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz floating around the blogosphere and thinking that I should read it one of these days, but when I saw that LMM narrated? It jumped straight to the top of the list.

aristotleanddanteI’m just going to give you the abstract from Goodreads because I can’t form a coherent synopsis of this book:

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.

Holy crap. Holy freaking crap, you guys. How do I love this book? Let me count the ways! First, Sáenz absolutely NAILS teenagerdom. That summertime listless boredom? It brought me back in a big way. Second, I absolutely adored these kids’ parents. They’re not perfect by any means, but both sets are so loving and compassionate. I don’t know why that struck me as so rare in a YA novel, but I wanted to give everyone a big fat hug. I can’t really tell you some of the other reasons I loved the book so so so much because they’d be spoilers, so you’re just going to have to trust me here. THEY ARE EXCELLENT REASONS.

I would have loved this book even if I’d read it with my eyeballs, but the fact that Lin-Manuel Miranda read me a story? Incredible. You guys! He casually dropped at least two mentions of Alexander Hamilton, which were written into the book and in no way referencing Hamilton the musical. It was so meta. LMM is a fantastic narrator (no surprise) and you could tell he adored the words he was reading which made it that much better. Although, he seems to adore a lot of things. Because he is basically the best humanity has to offer. Like, if aliens wanted to exterminate us? I think LMM could talk them out of it. (I pray nightly that he doesn’t end up having some hideous dark secret or massive scandal somewhere down the line, because I just don’t think I could handle having my heart broken like that. No pressure, Lin. But behave yourself… Mostly.)

Wow. It’s been a while since I’ve been this gushy about a book. Fittingly, I’m wearing a t-shirt that says “hyperbole” with an exclamation mark graphic. I am VERY EXCITED about this one. Go forth and read Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. Or have Lin-Manuel Miranda read it to you. If you ask really nicely, maybe I’ll do an interpretive dance of it for you. I hope you like tap!

Whew. Time to chat, Bookworms. What’s the last book you were ridiculously enthusiastic about? 

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22 Responses to “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz”

  1. Megan M.

    LMM is a national treasure. I assume you follow him on Twitter. His good mornings and good nights are the best.

  2. heather

    I keep meaning to read this one. Maybe I should get the audio. I have a road trip coming up.

    • Words For Worms

      I understand that road trips call for extra special audio book choosing, but this one is a winner. Highly recommend. Although, I suppose it depends on the length of your trip too? I always like to try and get my audio book to sync up as closely as I can to the number of hours I’ll be driving.

  3. Kailana

    I read this last year and loved it! I am disappointed I didn’t do the audio now that I am hearing good things about it!

  4. shanayatales

    Ohhh this sounds fantastic!! It has quickly climbed to the top of my tbr stack. Thank you for the recommendation.

    • Words For Worms

      I LOVE TuneIn Premium- that’s where I listened too! Dude, do you know if there’s a good way to bookmark your place in these? I’ve clicked around and just end up writing down my stopping point on paper. It is my only complaint and I feel like a bonehead.

  5. lostinliterature108

    Well dang, how can one not listen to this book after this review?

    I did just recently finish Truelove’s Journal on kindle. It’s so sad but soooo good. I just cried a good cry, but I was smiling at the end. Hard to recommend a sad one, most people don’t like that, but I loved it. Sigh….

  6. looloolooweez

    Oh, I’m so glad you liked this one. I have a particularly fond memory of it — it was one of the first book recs I gave as a teen librarian that was so successful that the kid actually came back the library to talk about it with me. This book is just great, and I imagine that having LMM read it to you is just divine!

  7. DoingDewey

    I loved this book too! And I was also struck by how well the author captured the experience of being a teen. So good!

  8. florinda3rs

    I think I may have to listen to this one. And not to make this all about me, but if you don’t include this book in my new review-roundup project I may have to write you in myself–your writeup is EXACTLY what I mean when I ask people to share “the book they were most excited about last month”!

  9. Rhian

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for bringing this book into my life. I have just finished it (one sitting, with eyeballs) and I’m all choked up. What an absolutely beautiful book. I wasn’t surprised to read that the author is a poet. I think maybe I’m a bit old to can’t even, but seriously, I can’t. Even.

Talk to me, Bookworms!

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