Having had my heart broken and fixed by Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe, I was determined to read the inexplicable logic of my life because Benjamin Alire Saenz wrote it. I’ve found that I;m more inclined to pick up books by authors I already know now, more than I ever did as a teenager. Books were always a little disconnected from the authors when I was a young teen, they just existed apart in my head. But this was definitely a case of “Ohh, I liked his last one”.
Sal has always been certain of his place with his adopted gay father, his dog Maggie, his best friend Samantha and their loving Mexican-American family. He’s never wondered about his personal past, about his birth father and he knows his mother through stories only. But when he starts Senior year, he unexpectedly has to face life altering events, forcing Sal and Sam to confront issues of faith, loss and grief.
When I first picked this up, I was determined to like it, because of Ari and Dante. I wasn’t too surprised to find that I didn’t even think of Ari and Dante once the entire time. In fact, I think I may prefer the inexplicable logic of my life. Sal and Sam have such a hilarious and painfully real friend-sibling relationship, and it is never sidestepped that they happen to be a teenage boy and a teenage girl. In fact, I liked how Sal occasionally mentions that people assume he and Sam are together, or that girls expect him to choose and he just thinks that’s crazy, because boys and girls can be friends, which can be as startling a discovery to some as finding out the Earth is round as a kid. I really appreciated that relationship.
Their dad is very soft, very kind, and as Sal finds it harder to engage emotionally and chooses to lash out with his fists, Dad doesn’t talk down to him or insist that they have some emotional heart to heart . I liked that. Dad’s had a tough time of it, as a single dad and as a gay guy, but he’s positive and super supportive of “his kids”. There is never any doubt that he would do near enough anything for his family.
I think Mima is who Sal loves most in the world, and their relationship is too teach acceptance. It clashes with Samantha’s turbulent relationship with her mother, and their friend Fito’s problem with his entire family.
I think one of the absolute key lessons of this book isn’t just acceptance, it’s don’t measure what you’re going through against other people. We all suffer in different ways, and that when you start to judge what you’re going through and saying it isn’t worth as much as someone else’s pain so you should ignore it, that’s when it starts turning inwards and causing problems. It’s love, it’s family, it’s acceptance and belonging and learning that you belong where you choose to, rather than settling for what you may not have chosen.
So, Saenz has done it again and I think this book is wonderful and painful and hopeful.