Saturday, March 17, 2012

I so loved this book...

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz.

Sometimes I get so utterly frustrated with myself. Seriously, seriously frustrated. I want so badly to be able to talk about the books I read with the eloquence that others seem to do so easily. (And yes, I do realize that most people likely work very hard at writing their beautiful reviews; they just make it look easy.) But it doesn't seem to matter how hard I try, I can never get all the scrambled thoughts racing through my head put down "on paper" in a way that does a book justice. And you what, for the most part, I've come to terms with that--writing a little blurb about each book I read in a monthly wrap-up post--yeah, I think that's going to work for me.

EXCEPT!!! What about those books that I just fall in love with?!! For those books that I just want to be able to explain why they touched me the way they touched me. Or for those books that seem important enough that I think everyone should read them. Or for those books that are so fresh or unique that they delighted me to the core. For all those types of books, I wish I could write. *sigh*

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is one of those books. I love it for the way it touched me. But why did it get to me the way it did? That's where I have trouble getting the thoughts out...

*It was a delight to take in the words on every page. Truly, there is something about Benjamin Alire Saenz' writing that is just plain beautiful. Beautiful in a straight-forward, uncluttered way. If I was still in the habit of writing down quotes I loved, I would have filled pages in my journal from this book. I really can't wait to try more of his books.

*At one point, I was maybe a quarter of the way through the book at the time, I mentioned in an email to Chris (he's the one who made me want to read this is the first place) that this book was reminding me of John Green. But try as I might I couldn't define, even to myself, why. Then as I was reading it the next night, it dawned on me. I thought, "It's because he 'gets' teenagers just like John Green does." And then followed that thought with, "Now that's a really stupid thing to say. As if teenagers were this one huge homogeneous group that can be understood as a whole." What I really meant was that he respects teenagers. As people. As individuals. With legitimate ideas. With legitimate feelings. With legitimate flaws. With legitimate fears.

*The characters in this book stole my heart. You know that feeling when you just wish so badly that a character in a book was more than a character in a book, but was a real-life breathing person and that that person was a part of your life. That's how I felt about these two teenage boys, Aristotle and Dante.

*I loved the recurring idea of ecotones, a term from ecology, extrapolated here to life in general. From the straddling of the boys' Mexican heritage and their American homes to the straddling of childhood and adulthood. Lots of borderlands, transitions of many kinds.

*When I first shut the covers on this book for the last time, I wasn't sure what I thought of the ending. I mean, I loved how it ended. But I wasn't sure I "bought" it. Obviously, I can't really explain without spoiling. But anyway, it's now been a couple of days since I finished the book. I can't stop thinking about it. And I think I've turned around a bit...I do think I buy the ending. (I still have one little quibble with one little thing, but that doesn't make the book "unbelievable"--I just happen to disagree with something a character said.)

And well, how about I just send you to Chris's review so you can actually find out what the book is about and some sensible thoughts on why it's wonderful...


Kailana said...

I am glad you liked this. I thought I requested it from the library, but when I was glancing at my holds yesterday I don't remember seeing it. I must go double-check...

DesLily said...

you just have to be super happy when you don't want a book to end or don't want to put it down... I can almost hate those books because it makes it very VERY hard to enjoy the next book you pick up!!!!

still.. it's great to enjoy a book that much!

Chris said...

My dear, you do an AMAZING job of talking about books that you love!!! This post was perfect :) As far as the ending, I had the same reaction as you. Didn't buy it at first, but it really grew on me and in the end, it's sort of what I expected all along. I have a lot to say about it though! It's really one of those books that just stays with you though, huh? I just loved it!

Heather said...

Eloquence is highly overrated. More often than not, a gushing review does more, in terms of making me want to read something, that a polished, professional gem of a review.

In short, I like 'em rough. :)

So now, I need to snap this up.

Amanda said...

I have this one waiting on a shelf for me. It will be picked up by tonight, thanks to your review!

Darren @ Bart's Bookshelf said...

Okay. That does it. This is going on the wishlist!

Debi said...

I hope the library has it for you, and even more I hope you enjoy it if you do read it! :)

I know just what you mean--I've started and set aside three different books since I finished this one. And I rarely do that at all!

This truly is a treasure of a book--and I can't thank you enough for introducing me to it!!!

You do! I seriously think this is a book you'll love, my dear! :)

I hope you love it as much as I do--but even if you only love it half as much as I did, it will be worth your while! :)

Yay! I have a feeling you'll like this one. Hopefully a lot!

Care said...

Goodness, you really liked it, huh? I'll have to check it out. :D

Eva said...

You totally convinced me to read it! So you did a great job writing about it. :D