Review: Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

The first time I read Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe was 8 years ago so I was really surprised to find out about the sequel. But I knew I had to read it. To prepare myself, I re-read the first book by listening to the audio, as narrated by Lin-Manuel Miranda (he was excellent!), and I can’t emphasize enough that a refresher is absolutely necessary before you read the new novel. It literally picks up right where it left off. 

Spoiler alert — in the predecessor, it’s a tumultuous journey for Ari and Dante as they initially become friends and eventually get their happily ever after once they’re both able to recognize how much they love each other. In this sequel, it’s all about the aftermath that they face, both good and bad. What does it mean to be gay Mexican young men in a small town where it won’t be accepted? This is their constant fear, along with that of their parents. Up until now, I actually thought these books took place in present day but it’s sometime in the 80s/90s as the author navigated different topics regarding the AIDS epidemic and LGBTQIA+ issues. But to counteract all the heavier (and absolutely necessary) conversations this story drove, there is also a lot of light in it. 

For one, it’s a beautiful thing to watch Ari open up to friends and accept himself. Friendship played a huge role in this book in general, which I loved. And as always, both Ari and Dante’s parents are active participants in their children’s lives. The banter, advice, and unconditional love in every scene filled me with so much joy. If I had one complaint about the book though, it would be Dante. He’s never been endearing to me as Ari (whom I adore!) and of all the characters, he’s had the least amount of growth (in fact, I’d say he didn’t mature at all). But I was willing to overlook that because everything else in this book is just amazing. I laughed, I cried, and I cannot wait to have a copy of this book on my shelves. 

Do I recommend? Clearly the answer is yes! If you were a fan of the first book, this won’t disappoint. And if you’ve never read it (but decided to read my review anyway), do yourself a favor and read it now. 

pub 10/12/21 by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Young Adult - Contemporary
Received e-ARC from pub for review


with love,