98 pages 3 hours read

Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2012

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Part 1, Chapters 1-6

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 1, Chapter 1 Summary

It is the summer of 1987 in El Paso, Texas, and Aristotle (or “Ari”) is in his room listening to the radio. He contemplates his situation: “I was fifteen. I was bored. I was miserable” (5). Before playing “La Bamba,” the DJ tells the story of the 1959 plane crash that killed Buddy Holly and Richie Valens. Ari thinks of what it must have felt like to be Richie Valens on the plane before it crashed.

Part 1, Chapter 2 Summary

Ari’s mother asks him to volunteer at the food bank. Though annoyed, he agrees to help. She asks him to change out of his old Carlos Santana t-shirt, but he refuses because it’s his favorite and his father gave it to him. Ari remembers that she told him she fell in love with his father because he was beautiful. He wonders: “What happened to all that beauty?” (11).

Part 1, Chapter 3 Summary

Ari walks to the pool and some boys try to mess with him. He tells them off. Ari has three older siblings: twin sisters who are 12 years older than him and a brother who is 11 years older and in prison. He never talks about his brother and realizes “not talking can make a guy pretty lonely” (14).