I don’t think I’ve squealed about Hamilton and Lin-Manuel Miranda or any of the amazing cast members here (that needs to be corrected shortly!), but I’m kind of obsessed with it. So much so that when I discovered that Lin had narrated a YA book previously I had to rush out to listen to it as quickly as possible. Even better is that the book turned out to be really well written with amazing characters so BONUS!
I’m going to start with what drew me to the book – Lin-Manuel Miranda. This book features two young Mexican American characters, which I can only imagine is why LMM chose to narrate this book since he could probably relate to them. He brought such inflection to the characters that I could feel them coming alive as I was listening. Occasionally the characters would speak Spanish and it was perfection to have LMM speak it with such a perfect accent. It really made me feel a deeper connection to the story and to both characters. I feel like I can tell when a narrator connects to a story and this was absolutely one of those times.
This book revolves around two boys – Aristotle and Dante. Two boys from the same culture but from different perspectives. One who gets his Mexican heritage and embraces and the other who doesn’t really get what it’s all about. They develop a friendship pretty quickly and their talks cover pretty much the whole universe. I loved the differences in these two, their personalities, their cultures, their families, pretty much everything. But they managed to become the best of friends.
LMM highlights both their similarities and their differences with his narration. Both Ari and Dante get emotional while speaking and LMM lets that shine through in both minute and major ways. When one is emotional he might get a little quiet or let his voice crack a little. He delivered a really powerful performance in this narration, and left me incredibly impressed. When I finished I immediately looked for other books he may have narrated and I was disappointed to find that he doesn’t have any others. If he is looking for a new project I would highly recommend audiobook narration!
This was a beautiful YA book and I honestly didn’t see where it was going until the very end. The themes of friendship, family, and culture are just wonderfully done. This is an author I will be searching out again. If you’re going to read it I would HIGHLY recommend listening to it obviously!
Rating: 5 stars
Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author: Benjamin Alire Saenz
Narrator: Lin Manuel Miranda
Release Date: February 21, 2012