I’m going to be honest with you: I’ve been sitting at my computer for over an hour, just staring at a finished review trying to write this intro. And it’s late, and I’m tired, and this review is pretty long, so I’m just going to get into it. (The review’s the important part anyway, right?) Hope you enjoy!
(From Goodreads) Sal used to know his place with his adoptive gay father, their loving Mexican-American family, and his best friend, Samantha. But it’s senior year, and suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and realizing he no longer knows himself. If Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he?
Having loved Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, I had pretty high hopes for The Inexplicable Logic of My Life. Almost as soon as I started reading, I realized that one of the major reasons why I loved Ari and Dante so much is that I listened to the audiobook (read by Lin-Manuel Miranda). I think the way Benjamin Alire Sáenz writes lends itself really well to being read aloud, and I think I would have preferred to read this book the same way. The writing style is a bit choppy and almost stream-of-consciousness, and I finally understood why people have trouble connecting with it. I wasn’t completely disconnected from the characters, but it did take me longer than usual to get into this book, and I wouldn’t say I loved the writing overall. (If you are looking to read one of Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s books, I would definitely recommend trying the audio version.)
That said, this book has a lot of incredible things going for it. The first thing I noticed was that, while this is a young adult coming-of-age story, it features an LGBT adult. I love that idea, and think it’s really important for teens who may not be LGBT themselves, but have a parent or family member who is, to see that reflected in literature. It’s something I hadn’t realized had been missing from my experience with LGBT lit, and now want to read more of.
I also loved the familial relationships in this book. There were so many different examples of both conventional and unconventional relationships. Adoption – and the questions that come along with it – is addressed in a really great way. But I think my favorite part was seeing fictional representations of unhealthy parent-child relationships. When I was growing up, I didn’t have a good relationship with my mother. And I think part of the reason it was so difficult to get past was that I didn’t see anything in the books I read or movies I watched that was on the spectrum between Molly Weasley and Cinderella’s evil stepmother. Moms were either amazing or terrible. I like that this book portrayed relationships along that line, the ones that aren’t perfect, and might even be harmful, but still included some form of love. In high school, one of my favorite teachers once said something along the lines of, “It’s okay not to love the people you’re supposed to. And you are not required to like the people you love.” It completely changed my perspective, and I think this book did a great job illustrating that concept. It’s definitely something I feel needs to be included in more books, particularly those for young readers. Family is complicated, and I loved that this book really looked closely at that.
The Inexplicable Logic of My Life also deals with the incredibly tough topics of love and loss. A few years ago, my aunt died of cancer. And then my dad was diagnosed with lymphoma. And then we had to put down four pets. And then my grandfather passed away unexpectedly. All within six months. Reading this book reminded me a lot of those times, of when, when you think you can’t possibly handle anything else, the universe decides to prove you wrong. Life doesn’t always take one tragedy at a time. Sometimes they rain down on you. And, as much as it hurt to go through that year, it was nice to see that experience reflected in a book. Granted, this book wasn’t quite as devastating as my worst year, it does an excellent job of showing how families handle hardship. Not everyone reacts well, and I think people in general need to do a better job of recognizing that.
I think this book is extremely valuable in that it shows young readers it’s okay to lose yourself sometimes, especially when life feels completely out of your control. But it also sends the message that you can’t let tragedy define you. Life is not perfect, and it always goes on. You have to, too.
I did have a little bit of trouble connecting with the characters and writing in the beginning, but I did grow accustomed to it as a I read. And I do wish this book had been a little bit shorter – I totally got that the timeline was meant to mirror Sal’s thought process, but I did feel myself occasionally start to get impatient with it. And it is a fairly long book – especially for a contemporary – at 464 pages. Overall, though, I loved it. If you liked Ari and Dante, you will definitely like this one, too. I think it’s a great contribution to the young adult genre, and I love the way diversity was included in so many different ways. I highly recommend it! Just make sure you have plenty of tissues.
The Inexplicable Logic of My Life will be available in bookstores starting tomorrow, March 7th. You can order your copy on Amazon now!
To get the audiobook for free, use this link to sign up for a free trial of Audible and choose The Inexplicable Logic of My Life as one of your two free books (which you get to keep even if you cancel).
This book was provided to me by the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.