In Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, two boys in a border town fell in love. Now, they must discover what it means to stay in love and build a relationship in a world that seems to challenge their very existence.
Ari has spent all of high school burying who he really is, staying silent and invisible. He expected his senior year to be the same. But something in him cracked open when he fell in love with Dante, and he can’t go back. Suddenly he finds himself reaching out to new friends, standing up to bullies of all kinds, and making his voice heard. And, always, there is Dante, dreamy, witty Dante, who can get on Ari’s nerves and fill him with desire all at once.
The boys are determined to forge a path for themselves in a world that doesn’t understand them. But when Ari is faced with a shocking loss, he’ll have to fight like never before to create a life that is truthfully, joyfully his own.
Readers need to begin with the first book; they need to understand where the protagonists have been in order to fully appreciate the journey they undertake over the course of this sequel.
Ari and Dante fell in love over the course of the first book, and they spend this one exploring their relationship: both the intense feelings of attractions and the emotional aspect of loving someone else so much.
The prose is gorgeous. It’s so lyrical—the words just flow across the page, and when combined with an intriguing storyline, it makes it difficult to put down. The narrative unfolds solely from Ari’s perspective, and being with Dante helps him gather a new outlook on aspects of his life he took for granted, such as his friendship with Susie and Gina from the first book. It also helps him draw perspective on other aspects of his life that he’s been avoiding for years. In both cases, it appears that acknowledging his true self serves as the source of these changes.
With a setting in the late 1980s, the AIDS pandemic is an unavoidable topic for our two protagonists. While neither is directly affected by it in terms of a diagnosis, the public’s reaction to the crisis—ranging from disinterest to outright disgust—does have an impact on the boys. Despite this negativity, Ari and Dante have each other, as well as the support of both sets of parents and their friend group. And that’s all they need.
I would absolutely recommend Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World. On the surface, we have the story of two Mexican-American boys coming of age in the late 1980s, but this is a story with such profound depth. There are so many beautiful quotes about our place in the universe, and solitude, and letting other people in—that are going to stay with me for a long time. My 14 year old read the first book while at summer camp, and was thrilled to pieces to learn that I had an ARC. She devoured it in less than a day, declared it wonderful, and couldn’t wait to tell the friend who loaned her the book about how cool I am. So, long story short, this book has the seal of approval from a member of the target demographic.
I received an ARC of this book from Simon & Schuster/NetGalley.