SAINT PAUL, MN—Saint Paul Public Library has selected “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” by Benjamin Alire Sáenz as the 2018 Read Brave book. Starting this month, more than one-thousand teens throughout Saint Paul will receive personal copies of “Aristotle and Dante” to read and discuss ahead of the author’s visit to Saint Paul in late February.
“’Ari and Dante’ is a book that is very special to me because it not only helped me deal with my own sexuality, it is a book that has helped many others come to terms with their own identities and given solace to many young people,” said Sáenz. “Books sometimes do change lives! What more could any author ask for? Truly, I am honored. But mostly, I think, Read Brave honors my readers.”
First published in 2012 to critical acclaim, “Aristotle and Dante” is a Printz Honor Book, the Stonewall Award winner, the Pura Belpre Award winner, the Lambda Literary Award winner, and a finalist for the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award. Sáenz’s beloved coming-of-age novel addresses issues of racial and ethnic identity, sexuality, and family relationships.
Novelist, poet, and writer of children's books, Sáenz was named one of the "Fifty Most Inspiring Authors in the World" by Poets & Writers magazine. Born in 1954 in Old Picacho, a small farming village outside of Las Cruces, New Mexico, he was the fourth of seven children and was brought up in a traditional Mexican-American Catholic family. He currently teaches creative writing at the University of Texas, El Paso.
Now in its sixth year, Read Brave is the library’s citywide program encouraging youth and adults to read and come together around a young adult novel. The program encourages intergenerational dialog on thought-provoking, contemporary issues and culminates with a visit from the author, including school visits and workshops for the general public.
Sáenz will visit Saint Paul on February 28-March 1, 2018 and will participate in community conversations about his book and two community writing workshops, which are free and open to the public. Learn more at sppl.org/readbrave.
Synopsis of "Aristotle and Dante:
Fifteen-year-old Aristotle (Ari) has always felt lonely and distant from people until he meets Dante, a boy from another school who teaches him how to swim. As trust grows between the boys and they become friends (a first for Ari), Ari’s world opens up while they discuss life, art, literature, and their Mexican-American roots. Additionally, the influence of Dante’s warm, open family (they even have a “no secrets” rule) is shaping Ari’s relationship with his parents, particularly in regard to a family secret; Ari has an older brother in prison, who no one ever mentions. In a poetic coming-of-age story written in concise first-person narrative, Sáenz (Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood) crystallizes significant turning points in the boys’ relationship, especially as Ari comes to understand that Dante’s feelings for him extend beyond friendship. The story swells to a dramatic climax as Ari’s loyalties are tested, and he confronts his most deeply buried fears and desires. It’s a tender, honest exploration of identity and sexuality, and a passionate reminder that love—whether romantic or familial—should be open, free, and without shame. Ages 12–up. – Publisher’s Weekly
Read Brave is made possible by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, and a generous donation to The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library in honor of Richard and Kathleen Hauke, and Mary Lou and Hank DuGarm.
About Read Brave
Read Brave is Saint Paul Public Library’s annual, citywide program encouraging youth and adults to read and come together around a young adult novel. The program encourages intergenerational dialog about thought-provoking, contemporary issues facing teens and culminates with a visit by the author. Each year, hundreds of copies of the Read Brave book are distributed to the community, primarily to teens in the Saint Paul Public School system. When teens own the book, they take ownership of the reading, get the thrill of a personalized autograph, and are able to share the book with friends and family.
About Saint Paul Public Library
Saint Paul Public Library connects people in Saint Paul with the imperative and the joy of learning through a lifetime. Saint Paul residents can enjoy free access to technology, books, movies, music, classes and more. We are at 12 neighborhood libraries, George Latimer Central Library, the Bookmobile, and online at sppl.org.