#CBR6 Review #91: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

The Chancellor has been at me to read Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe so we can talk about the ending. He did not like the ending. In fact, read his amazing review first, and then let’s talk.

Back? Let’s talk. I won’t summarize it for you, since The Chancellor did such a great job of it in his review. But suffice it to say, I agree with his assessment 100%.

I wanted to fall in love with this book madly, to root and cheer and whoop for Printz winners, for Stonewall winners, you get the big picture. And up to the ending, I really, truly was. It’s a great book, it really is. But in some ways, it could have been a mindblowing book. It was thisclose. But the ending was neat, conventional, tidy. And that’s not always how life works. Maybe Saenz did it purposefully, to give some idealism and some wish-fulfillment to his characters, but it just didn’t feel true to form. It’s not a bad ending, but it sort of comes out of nowhere, and left me a little head-scratching. Like, huh? Wait, what?

It’s sort of like the letter at the end of The Fault in Our Stars (another book I really wanted to love SO HARD and just liked okay). It’s pretty, it’s cathartic, but c’mon. It’s so fiction, so wish-fulfilling that it’s a fantasy. I realize that when you are focusing a story on a gay teen coming out in the 1980s, you might want a little enjoyable fantasy, and I respect that. It’s just that I thought the book would take a totally different direction, and as a reader, I was definitely a bit puzzled. But it’s still a highly worthwhile book, no matter what.


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