Being a teenager is a struggle, it is tough. A big part of being a teenager is finding who one really is. In Benjamin Alire Saenz’s novel, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Dante and Ari, two teenagers living in New Mexico, spend their time finding themselves. The overall power of the novel is to show how hard it is to find out who one really is. Saenz tries to emphasize the struggles of a teenager, and does it successfully. Controversial topics, such as sexuality and substance abuse are necessary for the overall power of the story because sexuality and love are the main themes of the novel, substance abuse contributes to the important part of a teenager’s struggle, and the topics help other teenagers relate to the novel.
Sexuality and love are the main themes of the story. Ari spends a lot of time figuring out what love is and how love affects him. He spends a lot of time thinking about love. Ari thinks, “I wondered what it would be like, to love a girl, to know how a girl thinks”(379). Ari’s search for love plays a big role in him finding who he really is. Ari’s character development is attributed to him discovering love and his sexuality. Another teenager who is trying to find himself, Dante, spends his time finding his sexuality. When he travels to Chicago he experiments with love and his sexuality, and Saenz shows the struggle that comes with it. Dante writes, “I want to marry a boy. I wonder how that’s going to go over? I’m the only son. What’s