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Reviews
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Aviary Wonders Inc. Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual by Kate Samworth
Blue Mountain by Martine Leavitt
Bob's Hungry Ghost by Geneviève Côté
The Cats of Tanglewood Forest by Charles de Lint
The Cute Girl Network by M.K. Reed
Dreaming Spies by Laurie R. King
Firmin: Adventures of a Metropolitan Lowlife by Sam Savage
Fleabrain Loves Franny by Joanne Rocklin
The Fog Diver by Joel Ross
Framed in Lace by Monica Ferris
Gabriel Finley and the Raven's Riddle by George Hagen
Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper
How Much Is a Million? by David M. Schwartz
In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
Level Up by Gene Luen Yang
The Lost Boy by Greg Ruth
Monster High by Lisi Harrison
My Pet Book by Bob Staake
No by Claudia Rueda
Pigmalion by Glenda Leznoff
Science Fiction by Joe Ollmann
Seconds by Bryan Lee O'Malley
Sleep Like a Tiger by Mary Logue
Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto
Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle 10 by CLAMP
The Twins' Blanket by Hyewon Yum
Waluk by Emilo Ruiz
Where Are You, Blue Kangaroo by Emma Chichester Clark
Wire Mothers: Harry Harlow and the Science of Love by Jim Ottaviani
You and Me by Susan Verde

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Rating System

5 stars: Completely enjoyable or compelling
4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish

Reading Challenges

My Kind of Mystery Reading Challenge 2017 February - January 2017-8



Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe: 10/05/15

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz: starts of strong and then goes lost in cliche.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz won the 2013 Stonewall Book Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature. Ari and Dante are a pair of Mexican American teens who save for their hyphenated heritage couldn't be any more different if they tried. Yet a set of circumstances thrust them together and they become friends over the summer.

Ari is an angry teen with a brother in prison. He's over protected because of his brother's mistakes and he screams at the world for this sense of injustice. Dante's an only child of academics; his life is fairly liberal and very open. There's a lot of touching in Dante's family.

The first half of the book is Ari being completely befuddled by Dante's happy go luck approach to life. Dante never wears shoes. He loves to draw. He's super close to his family. It's just all so perfect that it walks a fine line between saccharine and creepy.

And then book takes a right turn and for a variety of reasons the two are separated.

With physical and emotional pain to work through, Ari takes up alcohol. Dante, perhaps out of loneliness, and certainly out of boredom (because of course, all super smart kids get bored), takes up drugs.

And somewhere in all that mess, the boys realize they have feelings for each other.

The drugs and alcohol is a hot heaping pile of plot convenience, than actual character development. Yes, Ari's brother screwed up and yes, he's angry. But that shouldn't automatically damn Ari to alcoholism. Likewise, yes, Dante's family is very liberal and somewhat laissez faire with their parenting, but again, I don't see Dante suddenly turning to drugs. He's so creatively driven that he doesn't need drugs.

It's not that there shouldn't be books about underage drinking and drug use but here it felt like a means for creating tension and nothing else. It didn't feel organic. It didn't seem to fit the characters. It felt like a stalling tactic to keep the boys apart until closer to the end.

Three stars

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