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

I had heard so many good things about this book, so I was excited to begin listening to the audio book. From the blurb, reviews, and awards I expected the book to be filled with endearing characters, profound coming-of-age wisdom, and lots of feels. Unfortunately, this book just didn’t work for me that way.

I found it very hard to connect with or feel anything for the majority of the characters. I sympathized with the issue of finding yourself as a teenager and growing into who you are truly meant to be, but at the same time I never walked away from a reading session thinking, "Wow that was intense!" or feeling my heart ache because of all the overwhelming emotion spilling off the page. Maybe I just wasn’t the target audience.

The writing itself felt overly simplistic at times given the subject matter. This book is targeted at late teens I would assume, but the dialog and descriptions oftentimes felt more middle grade fiction than young adult fiction.

The one thing I can say this book conveyed particularly well was the joy and intimacy of the friendships we develop as young people. The way Dante and Ari are able to just be with one another, comfortable and happy and doing nothing, the trust that develops between them--those kinds of relationships are once in a lifetime and I was grateful to be reminded of the times in my life when I had that through these two characters.

Overall, this book was just okay for me. The expectations I had for it were just too high. I wanted more meaningful insights, more profound realizations, characters I could easily connect with, amazing dialog. These things were missing, and the story definitely suffered for it. I would recommend this book to fans of coming-of-age fiction, lgbtq fiction, and stories with heavy emphasis on the importance of friendship.