Reviews for Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

AudioFile Reviews 2013 July
Lin-Manuel Miranda's neutral tones highlight the simplicity of this powerful, sparely written book. He accurately represents the defensive posture of 15-year-old Ari, who feels distanced from his own life. Miranda's clipped expression reflects the teen's frustrating attempts to comprehend secrets and other important aspects of his world: why his father hides his memories of Vietnam and why no one speaks of his imprisoned older brother, along with how he can come to terms with his confused feelings for Dante, another Latino boy, and, toughest of all, how he can make sense of who he really is. The dispassionate tone of both author and narrator belie the conflicting emotions Ari feels as he tries to grow up in a "universe of almost-men." S.W. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award (c) AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine

Library Journal Reviews 2013 July #1

Read with a convincingly teen-sounding voice by Tony Award winner Lin-Manuel Miranda, this 1980s-set coming-of-age novel, which was awarded a 2013 Printz Honor, will be a popular addition to YA collections. Both Aristotle and Dante are of Mexican heritage but seem to have little else in common. The boys meet during summer break and help each other discover their place in the world and their identity--ethnic, sexual, and family. Aristotle's family relationships are complicated, with a brother in prison and older, married sisters. Dante is an only child whose college professor father moves the family to Chicago for a sabbatical. Over time, the teens and their families develop a relationship that deepens through adversity. Aristotle saves Dante's life. Dante, openly gay, falls in love with Aristotle. VERDICT A thought-provoking read for teens struggling to develop individuality.--Cheryl Youse, Moultrie, GA

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 June #4

In Sáenz's novel, 15-year-olds Aristotle and Dante struggle with the complexities and insecurities of growing up as they try to understand and navigate family secrets, their sexual identities, their identities as Mexican-Americans, and their increasingly complicated friendship. Lin-Manuel Miranda hands in a nuanced performance, capturing Ari's inner confusion and self-loathing, his unexpressed rage at his parents, and his mixed feelings about best friend Dante. Miranda is just as effective in capturing Dante, lending him an upbeat, likable, nerdy voice. For the book's other characters, the narrator takes an understated approach, allowing listeners to understand who is speaking to whom without creating full-fledged character voices. Because of Miranda's standout performance, listeners will truly understand these two boys as they travel the difficult journey toward becoming men. Ages 12-up. A Simon & Schuster hardcover. (Apr.)

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