Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Aristotle and DanteThis was high on my “to-read” list after the January 28th Youth Media Award announcement — It won the Stonewall Award, is a Printz honor and is also the Pura Belpré award winner. And the cover had always spoken to me. But, it took me a whole week to finish reading this easy and not very long book. Mostly because I found myself not being drawn back emotionally to the book every time I put it down and I also didn’t feel compelled to continue reading for a long time. I found Aristotle’s narrative too wordy, too self-analytical, too clinical, even, at times. There’s so much crying and laughing: as if those are the only two actions that can express the emotions of the characters. And the descriptions of the crying and laughing were not that varied. The way the father cries is not distinguishable from the way Dante cries. I think this is a message-y book — but the revelation at the very end of Aristotle’s sexuality does nothing to strengthen the book’s power for me. I can appreciate the everyday life style of the storytelling but at the same time, there is definitely plenty of tightening up that could be done. (Is it necessary to feature an aunt who was shunned by relatives because she was a lesbian and a brother who’s serving time for the murder of a transvestie all in one story and all in one person’s life?)

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