Benjamin Alilre Sáenz

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2012.
German edition: Aristoteles und Dante entdecken die Geheimnisse des Universums
Translated from English by Brigitte Jakobeit, Thienemann 2014

Recipient of several American awards such as the Pura Belpré Award, Stonewall Book Award, and the Printz Honor, Sáenz’s Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is written from the point of view of introverted and insecure Aristotle. When Ari meets eloquent and self-confident Dante, it seems as though the two have nothing in common. But as the two loners start spending more time together, a special friendship grows, and Ari begins to open up. As they sit on the ground and gaze up at the stars, they tell each other their thoughts and begin to discover the secrets of their own identities. Benjamin Alire Sáenz honestly and directly portrays the sensitivities of these two Mexican-American adolescents. In this coming of age novel, he brings to life an extraordinary and deep friendship. (Ages 14 and up)

Last Night I Sang to the Monster
Cinco Puntos Press, 2009

How did 18-year-old Zach land in rehab? It would probably be better if he could not remember what brought him there, but he keeps having flashbacks about past traumas and his difficult family life that will not go away. But then sensitive, intelligent, and creative Zach finally starts to have some luck: he meets people who help him open up and overcome seemingly insurmountable hurdles. Rafael, Zach’s roommate in rehab, is especially helpful in this process as he teaches Zach how to deal with the monsters of his past and define his future. A touching relationship grows between Zach and Rafael and shows the ways in which friendship can move mountains.