The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz / ★★★★☆
One sentence summary: Sal, adopted at age three by a gay father, is part of a loving Mexian-American family, but begins to question himself and his identity when he starts getting into fights and suddenly finds himself surrounded by grief.
I knew that my father would say that hurting another human being just because he hurt you is no way to live your life. And maybe he was right. But that thought didn’t live inside me.
Genre: Contemporary/Young Adult
I really enjoyed this book, and my favorite thing about it, and all of the books by Benjamin Alire Sáenz that I have read, is that it depicts a lot of big and messy issues and encircles them with a lot of love and kindness. The overwhelming sense of gentleness I got from this book is a huge part of the reason I loved it. He gives us identity issues that revolve around race, death, culture, sexual orientation, gender, violence, religion, and many other things that are dealt with not as black and white issues, but a lot of gray.
I felt that the plot was rather light, that it consisted of a few main points and spent most of its time depicting how the characters reacted to these points. As always with with Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s books, this book contained a lot of introspection, and was rather slow moving. If you’re someone who isn’t a fan of those things, I would suggest giving this book a pass. I really enjoy the introspection and I enjoyed the pace of this book. It wasn’t fast, but it was easy to read and didn’t take me long to finish it, particularly because I was enjoying it so much. However, I do think that almost too many heavy things happened in this book in a rather short span of time, and it could have benefited from stretching out over a longer time period to give it a better sense of realism.
I liked the messiness of family and friendship in this book, and how it dealt with the way teenagers make sense of their own selves when they’re under so many different kinds of pressure and surrounded by so many different influences. This book brought a lot of themes together under the overarching umbrella of kindness, and I loved it.
I loved how this book focused on friendship and family and didn’t have a overarching romantic plotline, and I particularly loved how it focused on the best friendship between a boy and a girl. It really made me think of how romance is so often seen as the “top tier” of love, when it really isn’t, and this book heavily depicts all kinds of love- friendship, father/child, mother/child, and the pain that happens when one person loves someone more than the other.
I loved the three main teenagers, Salvator, Sam, and Fito, and I love the friendship that develops between them over the course of the novel. I loved the comparisons and contrasts between them, and mostly I love how they’re just a group of very different kids who pick on each other and love each other. I liked the messy bunch they made.
My favorite character was Sal’s dad, Vicente. I thought his overwhelming gentleness and kindness set the tone of the novel and loved how he was such a great driving force in Sal’s life. He is definitely one of my favorite book dads now.
I also loved Sal’s grandmother, Mima, and the Catholic religious undertones she brought to the novel. I loved how Mima and the religious aspects added to the overwhelming kindness of the novel and wasn’t simply an “older generation” thing. I found refreshing, and I liked that it took part in the identity of Vicente, a homosexual character. I liked that it shed light down the generations to Sal, who puzzled and struggled over it but didn’t quite reject it. I loved that all of the characters in this book had so many layers.
I like Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s writing style, and sometimes I find it very eloquent and poetic, and other times I find it rather choppy. He’s definitely got a distinct style, and while I wouldn’t say I’m over the moon for it, I like the way he tells his stories. I enjoy the slower, introspective pace of his novels.
Was I satisfied?
Overall, yes! I loved the gentleness of this novel and the heart of it as it deals with a lot of heavy things. I’d even go so far to say I enjoyed it more than Ari and Dante, since that seems to be a comparison people use to rate it by (but they’re really quite different). I walked away from this book feeling a sense of comfort despite the messy things that are bound to happen in life.