Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

For Ages: 12 and up
  • reading group guide
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This Printz Honor Book is a “tender, honest exploration of identity” (Publishers Weekly) that distills lyrical truths about family and friendship.

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.
  • Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | 
  • 368 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781442408944 | 
  • February 2012 | 
  • Grades 7 and up
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Read an Excerpt

One

ONE SUMMER NIGHT I FELL ASLEEP, HOPING THE WORLD would be different when I woke. In the morning, when I opened my eyes, the world was the same. I threw off the sheets and lay there as the heat poured in through my open window.

My hand reached for the dial on the radio. “Alone” was playing. Crap, “Alone,” a song by a group called Heart. Not my favorite song. Not my favorite group. Not my favorite topic. “You don’t know how long . . .”

I was fifteen.

I was bored.

I was miserable.

As far as I was concerned, the sun could have melted the blue right... see more

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Reading Group Guide

A Reading Group Guide to

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

About the Book

When Aristotle, a loner, meets Dante at the swimming pool, the two strike up an unparalleled relationship. Dante is everything Aristotle wishes he were: articulate, smart, and self-confident. Together they begin questioning the secrets of the universe and navigating the painful journey from adolescence into adulthood. Sharing books, dreams, a near-fatal accident, and a year apart, the two discover the power of their friendship and develop an inseparable bond.

Prereading Questions

1. Do people always have to understand the people they love? Why or why not?

2. What characteristics are most admirable in a close friend?

Questions for Discussion

1. Aristotle (Ari) Mendoza is one of four children. His two older sisters and his older brother no longer live at home. Describe his relationship with his siblings. Why does he feel like the family mascot?

2. How does Ari meet Dante? Compare and contrast their personalities.

3. Why do Ari and Dante become friends? What personality traits does Ari most admire in Dante and why?

4. Does Ari have a close relationship with his parents? How does his relationship with his mother differ from his relationship with his father?

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About the Author

Benjamin Alire Saenz
Photograph by Vantage Point Studios

Benjamin Alire Saenz

Benjamin Alire Sáenz is an author of poetry and prose for adults and teens. He is the winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the American Book Award for his books for adults. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe was a Printz Honor Book, the Stonewall Award winner, the Pura Belpre Award winner, the Lambda Literary Award winner, and a finalist for the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award. His first novel for teens, Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood, was an ALA Top Ten Book for Young Adults and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His second book for teens, He Forgot to Say Goodbye, won the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award, the Southwest Book Award, and was named a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age. He teaches creative writing at the University of Texas, El Paso.

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