Title: The Inexplicable Logic of My Life
Author: Benjamin Alire Saenz
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Number of Pages: 452
Sal is a teenager who lives with his adoptive gay dad and is preparing for the impending death of his grandmother, who he’s extremely close to. He’s been having problems with his temper lately and he starts wondering about his biological mom and dad and the part they played in him being the person he is. Meanwhile, Sal’s friends Sam (a girl) and Fito (a boy) are having their own crises, and Sal’s kind and caring dad becomes an integral source of support in their lives.
I don’t think I liked this as much as Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. It’s got a good story and characters, but the writing style is so jarringly juvenile it’s hard to believe the main character is an older teen. He seems more like a twelve or maybe thirteen-year-old than somebody who’s about to graduate from high school. I liked Sal and especially Fito- his combination of street-smartness, cussing and slang hid a sensitive and highly intelligent kid in a awful family situation- but I really couldn’t stand Sam.
I don’t usually mind if main characters are unlikable, but Sam was supposed to be someone for the reader to root for and she irritated me so much that it took away from my enjoyment of the book. She’s supposed to be a free spirit, but she comes off as a rude and histrionic brat who doesn’t take no for an answer.
A great example of why I couldn’t stand her character is when she comes into the house where Fito is staying and just starts reading his diary. Sal tells Fito that she’ll basically do whatever she wants and there’s no point trying to stop her from going through his private stuff. I mean, who does that? The way she treated Sal when he confronted the guy who tried to rape her is also terrible.
Sal is protective of her because she had called him screaming because the guy had roughed her up and torn her blouse and she makes him feel like shit about it. And she’s supposed to be in the right in this situation? Ugh. I would have been just as happy if this book just had Sal and Fito in it as the main characters.
There also seems to be a bit too much tragedy… parents and grandparents die left and right and something traumatic is always happening. But I DID like the relationships between the characters in this book, especially Sal and his dad. His dad’s and Fito’s sexuality were a big part of the story without overpowering their characters or the overall narrative, and I finished a sizable chunk of it in less than one day. It was a quick read and I enjoyed it, even though I had some problems with it.