About Books #8: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

I first finished this book on my way to London, and apparently it was almost creepy how wordless it rendered me. Sure, that was the bf saying that, but if nothing else that does tell you how great Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is!

Characters

I hated being volunteered. The problem with my life was that it was someone else’s idea.

I feel like the best way to describe Aristotle, is as a boy whose mind doesn’t quite seem to fit his body, and whose mind doesn’t quite seem to fit his spirit. He begins the book as someone not sure of who he is, or what he does, only a continuous feeling of non-like of both of those two things. The way he comes to realise this through Dante though, is what grasped me in this story.

I renamed myself Ari.
If I switched the letter, my name was Air.
I thought it might be a great thing to be the air.
I could be something and nothing at the same time. I could be necessary and also invisible. Everyone would need me and no one would be able to see me.

Dante is kind of Aristotle’s exact opposite – he knows exactly who he is. It’s just showing the rest of the world that’s a bit of a problem.

The best thing about these two boys? Their parents are basically amazing. There’s no judgement from them, which allows the focus to remain solely on the coming-of-age that is really center to this story.

Story

The thing about this book is, that it doesn’t show a lot of plot. There are no big mysteries that need solving, no hurdles that must be overcome. It’s about small things. So many small things, so universal that it somehow describes the hugest thing of all.

I bet you could sometimes find all the mysteries of the universe in someone’s hand.

The entire story basically just documents the development of the friendship between Aristotle and Dante. Through its focus on Aristotle, it gives amazing insight that come with a couple of certain realizations, such as there are:

Another secret of the universe: Sometimes pain was like a storm that came out of nowhere. The clearest summer could end in a downpour. Could end in lightning and thunder.

And of course the tiny thing that’s a ginormous spoiler but also really obvious from the get-go:

All this time.
This was what was wrong with me. All this time I had been trying to figure out the secrets of the universe, the secrets of my own body, of my own heart. All of the answers had always been so close and yet I’d always fought them without even knowing it. From the minute I’d met Dante, I had fallen in love with him. I just didn’t let myself know it, think it, feel it. My father was right. And it was true what my mother said. We all fight our own private wars.

Narration

Really, this is just one of those books that just fill you up with a certain feeling of sadness and at the same time of completeness (I know this doesn’t make any sense, but it’s basically the best way I know to describe it – maybe I’m like Aristotle, I don’t know how to speak my thoughts).

Words were different when they lived inside of you.

The beauty about this book is that, as I already mentioned above, it doesn’t really show a lot of plot. It’s more so showing you how the characters get to their destination, than actually giving you this amazing climax. And you know what? I absolutely loved that.

Overall 5/5

So yeah, I absolutely loved this book, I loved the style, I loved the relationship between Aristotle and his parents and the way that developed, dito for Aristotle and Dante, idem for Dante and his parents, and it was way too perfect.
To finish off, when I say I loved the style: I could literally just add in the whole book here, as ‘quotes I loved’, but that doesn’t seem prudent, so here are some of my favorite ones:

I got to thinking that poems were like people. Some people you got right off the bat. Some people you just didn’t get–and never would get.

To be careful with people and with words was a rare and beautiful thing.

“Your smile is back.” That’s what Dante said.
“Smiles are like that. They come and go.”

Want to read this one now as well? You can find it at the Book Depository (affiliate link)!

-Saar