The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

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Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia to be raised in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles. “The best of all the Greeks”—strong, beautiful, and the child of a goddess—Achilles is everything the shamed Patroclus is not. Yet despite their differences, the boys become steadfast companions. Their bond deepens as they grow into young men and become skilled in the arts of war and medicine—much to the displeasure and the fury of Achilles’ mother, Thetis, a cruel sea goddess with a hatred of mortals. When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece, bound by blood and oath, must lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.

Review

I just realized this book was first published in 2011. Oh, how I wish I had known about this book back then! Luckily, it’s never too late to find a gem–and this book is truly a gem! Even if you have never heard the expression Achilles’ heel, or known that you have a tendon named after the guy, or maybe you are not into Greek mythology, or never heard or read the Iliad, you can still enjoy this book.

That’s the magic that Madeline Miller brought to these pages. She has made a classic story accessible to everyone, young and old. Her prose is lyrical, poetic, and beautiful–but never in a snobbish way.

The plot revolves around the Trojan War, and we learn about Achilles from Patroclus’ eyes. That, my friend, makes all the difference in this book.

Patroclus is Achilles’ closest friend and because of his love for Achilles, we see a more humane version of the Greek hero.

“I could recognize him by touch alone, by smell; I would know him blind, by the way his breaths came and his feet struck the earth. I would know him in death, at the end of the world.”

This book has left me crying and wishing for more. I highly recommend this delightful book about love and friendship.

“We were like gods at the dawning of the world, & our joy was so bright we could see nothing else but the other.” 


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Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

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Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Author: Benjamin Alire Saenz

Pages: 368

Genre: YA

ISBN: 9781442408920

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers 

Rating: 4-Stars

Dante can swim. Ari can’t. Dante is articulate and self-assured. Ari has a hard time with words and suffers from self-doubt. Dante gets lost in poetry and art. Ari gets lost in thoughts of his older brother who is in prison. Dante is fair skinned. Ari’s features are much darker. It seems that a boy like Dante, with his open and unique perspective on life, would be the last person to break down the walls that Ari has built around himself.

But against all odds, when Ari and Dante meet, they develop a special bond that will teach them the most important truths of their lives, and help define the people they want to be. But there are big hurdles in their way, and only by believing in each other―and the power of their friendship―can Ari and Dante emerge stronger on the other side.

I decided to read this novel after I joined Caught Read Handed’s Blogger’s Book Club. This was the novel featured for the month of May, and I’m so glad that I decided to join that book club.

Quite often I start reading a book without ever reading previous reviews, and many times I don’t read the book jacket—If a book has a good title and a good cover, then I’m bound to give that book a try. So, this was the case of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. Not only this book has an interesting title, but it also has a great cover to go with it.

This is such a beautifully written novel by Benjamin Alire Saenz, and it completely took me by surprise. Saenz prose is magical! This book was such a pleasure to read, and I loved the two characters—Ari and Dante. A coming-of-age story with a twist; The author captured the angst and despair of a fifteen-year-old in a simple, but by no means simplistic way.

I loved how he tackled the topics of sexuality and puberty, and how he questioned traditional roles without making it too dense. In fact, this is a beautiful story of love, friendship, acceptance and discovery.

“The problem with my life is that it was someone else’s idea.”

I definitely recommend this book to pretty much anyone with an open mind.

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