Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

ARI
Title: Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Series: N/A
Edition: Paperback, 359 pages
Publication Details: April 1st 2014 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genre(s): YA; Contemporary; LGBT
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it

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Dante can swim. Ari can’t. Dante is articulate and self-assured. Ari has a hard time with words and suffers from self-doubt. Dante gets lost in poetry and art. Ari gets lost in thoughts of his older brother who is in prison. Dante is fair skinned. Ari’s features are much darker. It seems that a boy like Dante, with his open and unique perspective on life, would be the last person to break down the walls that Ari has built around himself.

But against all odds, when Ari and Dante meet, they develop a special bond that will teach them the most important truths of their lives, and help define the people they want to be. But there are big hurdles in their way, and only by believing in each other―and the power of their friendship―can Ari and Dante emerge stronger on the other side.

Review


So you know the other week when I said I’m over Contemporary YA and have had enough of traumatic school-days reads? I take it all back. This book made me take it all back and eat my words. The shame!

Oh this book, you guys.

I fell in love with it instantly and read it in two sittings. The story is set in El Paso, Texas, and narrated by Ari. Ari’s a loner and more troubled than he even lets himself acknowledge. He’s clever and funny, but he’s angry too. He’s angry that his dad won’t talk about the war that has affected him so badly. He’s a angry that his brother is in prison and that his family won’t tell him why. In fact they pretend he doesn’t exist at all.

Ari meets Dante, who offers to teach him how to swim. On paper they are complete opposites. Dante is effervescent and loved by everyone who meets him. He finds it easy to open up to people and talk about his feelings; everything Ari isn’t, and can’t do.

The two become inseparable during one summer, and together they try to make sense of the world.

I’m reluctant to say much more plot-wise but just know this: Aristotle and Dante is a beautifully written, heart-wrenching coming-of-age story that I know will stay with me for a long time. I’ll definitely be reading this again in the future.

I love the setting, I loved the relationship between Ari and his mum, and obviously the relationship between Ari and Dante…I just can’t even… have ALL THE UNICORNS. I need to get my hands on Alire Sáenz’s other books STAT!

unicorn rating

Apple Tarts Vs Hope and Despair…

apple
Title: The Apple Tart of Hope
Author: Sarah Moore Fitzgerald
Series: N/A
Edition: Hardcover, 272 pages
Published: June 5th 2014 by Orion
Genre(s): YA; Contemporary
Disclosure? Yep, I received a copy via the author/publisher in exchange for an HONEST review

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I found the beginning of this book rather odd which made it a little hard to get into, but it soon becomes apparent that that oddness is what makes The Apple Tart of Hope such a unique read.

It opens at a service being held for Oscar Dunleavy, who is presumed dead. The church is full; the atmosphere, strange. The narrative comes from Meg, who claims to be Oscar’s best friend, but another girl, one with golden hair, is called up to speak a few words about Oscar, as she is apparently his closest friend.

Throughout the book we are taken back to how it all began, switching between the perspectives of both Meg and Oscar. At the start, they are inseparable. They live next door to each other and their bedroom windows face each other so they can lean out and talk every night.

Life seems pretty good, everyone gets on with each other at school, and Oscar and Meg are well-loved. There is a whimsical sort of magic to Oscar. He’s an unusual character for a young boy. He’s kind and deeply thoughtful, and likes to solve people’s problems by baking them exquisite apple tarts.

But it’s not an ordinary apple tart. It’s the apple tart of hope. After you’ve taken a bite, the whole world will look almost completely different. Things will start to change and by the time you’ve had a whole slice, you’ll realise that everything is going to be OK.”

And then it all starts to go wrong. Meg is forced to move to New Zealand, and Paloma – the girl with the golden hair – moves into Meg’s house…

Oh man, this was a rollarcoaster. Once I got into it I couldn’t put it down. I needed to know how things had spiraled so out of control for Oscar and Meg. It really captured something special about being young, especially the perils of school days and friendship.

It’s hard to explain without giving the whole plot away, but I will say that at certain points in this book I was filled with so much hate for what happened to Oscar and Meg, and I knew then that this book was something special, not to mention how beautifully it’s written.

The man was a maze of wrinkles and his hands were dirty. Tears made shiny branch-like patterns on his cheeks.”

This was my first read of Sarah Moore Fitzgerald, and it definitely won’t be my last. I need to find her debut Back to Blackbrick, stat!

unicorn rating 4

Available now from Waterstones in hardback, or to pre-order in paperback (due 05/02/15).