There are only a few books that I would classify as my “love at first read” – Jane Austen’s Persuasion, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game…and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz.
The hallmark requirement that will make any book “my favorite” book is the ability of the story to make me feel something. Not the surface emotions of ‘this book is good’ or ‘this book is bad.’ I mean the feeling you get right in the middle of your heart – where all the “feels” happen.
The fluttering ‘feel’ of a love story done completely 100% right, the sinking feeling of dread when you fall in love with a character and they do something completely stupid…like die. Or my favorite indescribable ‘feel’ of all is the tightness that squeezes something inside of you – near the heart, but could also be felt through your whole body – it fills you up and you are so full of the ‘feel’ that the only release is a good ugly or happy cry. Aristotle and Dante hit the last ‘feel’ for me.
“Words were different when they lived inside of you.”
Aristotle is one of my favorite book heroes (yes, I know there’s a proper name for a main character: protagonist, but book hero is way better in my opinion) he’s an enigma who is trying to solve all the other mysteries around him; why his Father is the way he is, why is his brother in jail, why is he always so angry, why can’t he talk about his feelings like other people…basically; Aristotle needs to know how people work so he can figure out how he works.
“But love was always something heavy for me. Something I had to carry.”
Another sweetie from the book is Dante, another awesome book hero. He is as open as Aristotle is closed off. The words Ari uses for him most in the book are “sincere” and “honest.” Dante wears all his emotions on his sleeve – even though they might, and do, get him in situations where they are stomped on or literally run over.
“…is love a contest?”
“What does that mean?”
“Maybe everyone loves differently and that’s all that matters.”
The main reason this book hit my ‘indescribable feel’ nerve is the strong family dynamic. The parents are written so beautifully well with their own secrets that it made me more invested in their stories. I especially like how Saenz wrote about the relationships between the two boys and their fathers. I am definitely a daddy’s girl, and I love my Dad 1000% because he’s amazing; but the relationship between a son and a father – I have never, and will never experience so reading that type of relationship was different and fascinating.
This book is not only about an enigmatic teenage boy and his relationships with his family and best friend… well… actually it is… However, that does not cover the scope of this amazing story. There are characters struggling with their ethnicity, their sexuality, and demons from their past.
There are only a few books I would “stand on a hill” for and this one tops my list. It’s about finding someone you need at exactly the right moment. It’s a love story, an adventure story, a best friend story, a mystery, and a family story all rolled into one.
Is this book rereadable? Yes.
Leave a comment below about your favorite “indescribable feel” book (I always love and appreciate a good recommendation) or your thoughts on my boys, Aristotle and Dante 🙂