Monday, May 1, 2017

Book Review: The Inexplicable Logic of My Life

This story is of Sal (Salvadore), a high school senior, will break your heart over and over. But it's worth it!

Sal and his friend Sam (best friends from forever) journey with Fito, another friend of Sal's as they both try to figure out and escape their present situations and plan for their future in college. Sal is adopted, but has long been beyond family to his adopted father, Vicente, and his extended Mexican-American family (and he's especially close to his grandmother, Mima). As Sal wonders what his 'bio' dad has imprinted on him, he struggles with figuring out how much of his identity is under his ability, versus how much 'nature' will takeover. Among his greatest fear is that he cannot control who he will become, that he carries the legacy of someone he doesn't even know as oppose to his father who has raised him all these years.

As YouTube vlogger perpetualpages shares in her review:

"I found this to be a powerful story about the families we make for ourselves and the families who claim us in return. It's about the beautiful sometimes messy ways that humans love each other, and about allowing yourself to walk the path you make for yourself." 

Of all the things to love in this book, the relationship between Sal and his adopted father Vicente is epic. In much the same way as Wonder, full of precepts and wise anecdotes, I would buy a book of just Vincente's advice. For instance, in one of the first fights Sal gets in, defending his father's honor - what does his father have to say in reply? "It's not a good idea to jump into the sewer to catch a rat." (14). All the dad expressions - "Sometimes I love you both so much that I can hardly bear it." (252). I just want to send a father of the year award his way.

Areas of immense depth in Inexplicable Logic:

Dealing with Hatred:
By Sexuality-
"My dad is a man. He has a name... So if you want to call him something, call him by his name. And he's not a f......" (9)
By Race & Ethnicity-
"I'm also a Mexican-American. I don't think that makes me a taco bender. I don't think that makes me a beaner. I don't think that makes me a spic. And I don't think that makes me an illegal."[Sal's Father] (21)

Learning How to Cope:
With Grief-
"Silent tears falling down both of their faces. The world had changed. And this new world was quiet and sad." (152) ; "I'd watched them all in their beautiful courage. I'd watched them as they struggled through their hurts and their wounds." (441)
Nature vs. Nurture -
"It was as if I, the Sal I knew, just went away and another Sal entered my body and took over... it all happened in an instant, like a flash of lightning, only... it was coming from somewhere inside me... that scared me." (9)

Learning How to Love: 
"We had to see people because sometimes the world made us invisible. So we had to make each other visible." (354)
"But my father... He'd tamed me with all the love that lived inside him."(15). 

"I didn't know how to tell her that I wasn't all those beautiful things she thought I was. That things were changing, and I could feel it but couldn't put it into words. I felt like a fraud." (58)

In summary: a read absolutely for the high school classroom - a must in every library and classroom! 

P.S. Worth the read and/or including in an author's craft lesson/text set- author interview on Entertainment Weekly where Sáenz explores more of the book's background and origin: 
 “A lot of people say that I don’t write plot, I just write people. But that really isn’t true. I just don’t hit you over the head with the plot. That’s all.”

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