The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Oh my, what a feels-fest The Inexplicable Logic of My Life was for me! It’s Benjamin Alire Saenz’s second book*, following Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe and, like the first book, is quiet and elegant but also packs a walloping emotional punch.

Now, I have seen a critique that the beginning of the book goes slowly. And I can see that as fair. But I can also see that the pacing is actually very deliberate, as Saenz draws us into Sal’s world and his emotional landscape. At the same time, this is not a book that’s ever going to be for a reader who’s primarily plot-driven. It’s not that nothing happens here–in fact, there are big, seismic life changes. But the focus remains firmly on the characters, rather than the events.

And in fact, a lot of this book is about showing care and complexity in portraying people who are often overlooked, like Sal but also Sam and Fito, also Sal’s dad. This is perhaps a bit of an emotional spoiler, but I’m still going to share one of my favorite quotes:

“It was exactly like Sam had said, about how we had to see people because sometimes the world made us invisible. So we had to make each other visible. Words were like that too. Sometimes we didn’t see words.”

Sal starts off alone, but he doesn’t end up there; he starts off in some ways invisible, but over the course of the book, he becomes seen. And I loved the family that grows–found families being one of my favorite things anyway, but especially here, where it’s not easy or simple but is true.

There’s a lot more going on, including identity, the repetition of family patterns and history, learning how to see your parents as people, grief, the importance of friendship. But what weaves it all into a cohesive whole is the strength of Sal’s narration, and his relationship to the world, to his friends and family, and ultimately himself.

* Kate has alerted me that this is in fact VERY WRONG–Inexplicable Logic being BAS’s FIFTH YA book.


Filed under bookish posts, reviews

4 responses to “The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz

  1. I have to admit I haven’t gotten around to reading Aristotle and Dante yet. The way you describe this book reminds me of Francisco Stork, and I love his writing.

    • Maureen Eichner

      Yes, that’s a decent comparison! They’re not exactly the same, of course, but I can see some points of similarity between them.

  2. This book was so lovely. I just read it and thought it was stupendous, and I loved how much the characters cared for each other. Exactly the kind of book I needed to read in these troubled times.

    • Maureen Eichner

      Yes! And it’s heartwarming without denying the hardness and difficulties (personal AND structural) of being a teenager, which is exactly what I need at the moment.

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