Hero Theme

The Book Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is an amazing story about two high school boys trying their hardest to understand what life is supposed to be to a teenaged boy. The book asks many scary questions them and answers them with even scarier realities. Though, through everything, it seems the hardest thing the characters really have to deal with is being 15-18. The idea that only after graduation do they truly have the ability to write their own story, something that I believe they find to be not as true as they originally thought.

Without giving away the ending, it’s important to say that the turn of events in the novel makes it easily applicable to one social group, but many of the other issues of the novel, and the messages that ring true throughout all of them, are universal messages about growing up and being patient with those you love are ones that are important to a teenager and instantly applicable to anyone that age.

Another aspect of the novel that I really enjoyed was Dante’s character as a whole. He is a walking violation of social norms. He’s an unpopular, artistic, intrusive nerd with no mental filter on his thoughts or actions. But every other character in the story has an immense appreciation for everything he is. Dante’s weird nature is beautiful to everyone in the story.

The book as a whole had a great message for what makes a hero in that Ari’s character is constantly questioning and doubting the hero within him. Even after Ari’s actions prove him one, he still doesn’t feel like one. This is an important motif in this story, as I feel it is common among adolescents in our society to downplay their worth. This book shows that everyone can be a hero, everyone’s weirdness is beautiful to someone, and that unconditional love is the greatest and most important gift you could ever give a friend.

Coming of age Theme

In my opinion, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie is an absolutely fantastic story with an extremely helpful and important message to young readers, especially to young boys. The book’s frequent and casual mention of sexually-charged topics speaks to young people in a way that encourages them to not be afraid of their hormones and sexuality. I feel as though this message is one that is important for young adults to receive as they reach an age that sex is becoming a more frequent topic and pressure.

Another aspect of the book I liked a lot was its use as lens through which the reader might view Native American culture. I think this is important because the American education system has never done enough to teach its young people about the richness and beauty of the Native American culture, and because of this, many in our generation lack an interest that should be instead fostered. On that note, however there is a part of this book I didn’t enjoy and that was how often I felt as though certain customs and ways of thinking of the culture were not further explained. I felt as though there were many times throughout the novel where Alexie could have taken the opportunity to give knowledge to the reader about the culture and help foster that interest and care for it.

I felt also, that often times throughout the book Alexie would not-so-sneakily define nearly every “big” word he uses, a task that, in my opinion, often should be left up to a reader, should they chose to care enough to educate themselves, (a point he actually makes himself in the book), yet often I am left very much in the dark about the character’s culture.

However, overall, this book contains a crucial coming-of-age story that is hilarious, depressing, beautiful, scary, and sincere, typical of any coming-of-age story worth telling.