Monday, September 21, 2015

514 (2015 #71). Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

by Benjamin Alire Saenz

A story of coming out and coming of age in El Paso, Texas, in the late 1980s, Aristotle Mendoza and Dante Quintana are two third-generation Mexican-American boys.  Ari is quiet and upset that his parents, a teacher and a Vietnam vet postman (himself very quiet), won't tell him anything about his much-older brother who is in prison.  Dante is more outgoing, but just odd enough that he is a loner too.  He's an only child whose father is an English professor.  The two boys meet in the summer when they are fifteen, and become friends.

This book won four major awards in 2013.  It was named a Printz Honor Book as it "exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature."  It also won the Pura Belpré  Author Award for the narrative that "best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth."  Other awards included the Stonewall Book Award for "English language books that have exceptional merit relating to the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered experience," and the Lambda Literary Award for best LGBT Children’s/Young Adult.

This book is considered a "high-low" book because it has a reading level (late second-grade) much lower than the average reading ability of the intended age range of its readers (high school). This book's shorter sentences and simpler vocabulary would work well for struggling or reluctant readers with an interest or need to read about the serious issues in the story.

© Amanda Pape - 2015

[This book was borrowed from and returned to my university library.  The Hood County Library has it on order for its young adult section.]

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