Book Review: The Inexplicable Logic of My Life
Published by Clarion Books on March 7th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult Fiction
Goodreads Synopsis: The first day of senior year: Everything is about to change. Until this moment, Sal has always been certain of his place with his adoptive gay father and their loving Mexican-American family. But now his own history unexpectedly haunts him, and life-altering events force him and his best friend, Samantha, to confront issues of faith, loss, and grief.
Suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and discovering that he no longer knows who he really is—but if Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he?
The Inexplicable Logic of My Life is a moving story about love and about what it means to be a family. It follows the journey of Sal, a young man who is starting his senior year of high school. Sal, who lost his mother at an early age and never knew his real father, lives with his adoptive gay father, Vicente, and has been raised in a loving Mexican-American family. Up until now, Sal has always been sure of who he is and where he belongs, but when he unexpectedly starts getting into fights at school, he starts to question everything about himself. How can he have these random violent tendencies when he has been raised in such a loving environment and has never known violence? He feels like he doesn’t even know who he is anymore. As if questioning his very being wasn’t enough, Sal is confronted by mortality when a beloved family member is diagnosed with terminal cancer. It seems like his whole world is coming apart and Sal feels lost. Thankfully his best friend Samantha is there to help him try to make sense of what he’s feeling, but when her world is turned upside down too, they are both left trying to make sense of the cards they’ve been dealt in life. In many ways, this is a coming of age story for them both.
There’s so much to like about The Inexplicable Logic of My Life. I love the fact that it’s primarily character driven. Sure, there’s a plot. Lots of things – big things actually – happen throughout the story. But it’s not really so much about what happens, as it is about how the characters react to and learn and grow from what happens to them.
I really loved the characters and the relationships too. Sal is a great kid and since we’re getting the story from his perspective, it’s impossible not to feel sympathetic towards him, especially with everything he goes through. Thankfully he has an incredible support system in the people around him.
This book is filled with incredible relationships, and not the romantic kind. I’m talking about familial relationships. The father-son bond between Sal and his adoptive father is wonderful. Vicente is a nurturing father who always seems to know the right thing to say to put Sal’s mind at ease. He’s such a great dad that Sal’s friends, Samantha and Fito, have practically adopted him as their dad as well.
Speaking of Samantha and Fito, the friendships in this book are beautiful too. Samantha and Sal have practically grown up together and are as close as if they were brother and sister. Samantha has a less than ideal relationship with her mother and so she probably spends more time hanging out with Sal and his dad than she does with her own family. Like siblings, Samantha and Sal spend a lot of time mocking and teasing each other. Their hilarious banter was actually one of my favorite things about the book. But even though they constantly pick on each other, also like siblings, they always have each other’s backs no matter what.
Fito is a newer addition to Sal’s circle of friends. Like Samantha, he has a pretty rough home life and, at one point, even gets kicked out and is living on the streets for a while until Sal and Samantha find out and find him a place to stay. Fito isn’t used to anyone looking out for him and doing nice things for him so their kind gesture brings him near tears, which made me fall head over heels for this poor kid.
There were many other beautiful relationships too, including that between Sal and his adoptive grandmother, Mima. Their bond reminded me of my relationship with my own grandmother. When I was growing up, she was one of my best friends and biggest confidantes and that’s the way it is with Sal and Mima. Growing up with such nurturing influences as Mima and Vicente in his life, I could understand all the more why Sal was so confused by the violent outbursts he keeps having at school.
Aside from the characters and relationships that drive the story what I also loved about The Inexplicable Logic of My Life is that it’s a book that makes you think. It unflinchingly tackles big topics like love, family, death, grief, nature vs. nurture, and even homophobia and racism and how all of these things impact Sal and his family and friends.
My absolute favorite thing about this book though is its message about family. The Inexplicable Logic of My Life beautifully illustrates that family has little to do with biology and genetics and everything to do with who you let into your heart and who lets you into theirs. Blood may be thicker than water, but love is thicker than blood.
The only real criticism I have of this book is something that is hard to go into without giving away spoilers, but it’s about a loss that Sal, Samantha, and Fito each experience. Even though it definitely added a moving and dramatic element to the story, I couldn’t help but think “What are the odds that that same tragedy would actually happen to all three friends?” If you’ve read the book, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. And if you haven’t read it, you’ll figure it out. Other than that one quibble, I was really pleased with this read.
If you’re looking for a moving and thought-provoking story about love and loss and what it means to be a family, I’d definitely recommend The Inexplicable Logic of My Life.