Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

By . 7 cassettes or 7 CDs. 7:30 hrs. Recorded Books. 2013. cassette: ISBN 9781470370190, CD: ISBN 9781470365127. $123.75.
RedReviewStarGr 9 Up—When Dante meets and offers to teach Aristotle (Ari) how to swim at the local pool, neither boy has a clue how much their lives will change. While both are 15-year-old Mexican-Americans living in El Paso, they differ in many ways. Dante is self-assured and charismatic, while Ari is introverted, plagued with self-doubt, and obsessed with thoughts of his jailed older brother. The two loners find common ground and form a strong friendship. Family plays an important role in both boys' lives. Dante's professor father is open and close to his son, while Ari's dad is a Vietnam veteran who never shows his feelings and has trouble relating to his son. The boys' friendship is tested in numerous ways when Dante moves to Chicago for a year and, upon returning to El Paso, tells Ari he is gay and in love with him. Ari's confusion and eventual self-discovery is beautifully portrayed by narrator Lin-Manuel Miranda. This 2013 Printz and Stonewall award-winning book (S & S, 2012) is a wonderful coming-of-age story, and Miranda does a stellar job of capturing the essences of both teen characters. A terrific addition to audiobook collections.—Julie Paladino, East Chapel Hill High School, NC
Fifteen-year-old Aristotle Mendoza is something of a loner until he meets openhearted, self-assured Dante Quintana at the pool in the summer of 1987. Though their personalities and backgrounds are quite different, Ari and Dante become fast friends. Through the challenges of a car accident, a temporary move, and Dante’s coming out, the boys remain close, but when Dante is beaten up for kissing a boy, Ari finally realizes that his own feelings for Dante extend beyond friendship. Narrator Miranda’s understated performance—with its leisurely pacing, spot-on inflections and pauses, and distinctive character voices—eases readers into Ari’s world. Miranda intimately conveys Ari’s voice: a sardonic, wistful, and insightful mix. Sáenz’s compelling story deals not only with friendship and romance but with personal growth and self-discovery, and is by turns humorous, heartbreaking, and uplifting; this audio version effectively captures its essence. cynthia k. ritter

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