Sal used to think that he knew his place, that he knew who he was. But recent events have caused him to lash out at everything, and making him question himself and his place within his life.
Why this book?: Benjamin Alire Sáenz is an auto-buy after Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. I was also fortunate enough to win an ARC through HMH publishing!!
I would like to thank the people at Clarion/HMH Publishing for allowing me to have an ARC of this book.
This is a book about grief
The Inexplicable Logic of My Life is a heavy book, disguised by the light and fluffy way it was written. Sáenz’s writing hasn’t changed much from when he wrote Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. He kept the same style of short, fluffy, and basic writing that leaves it up to the characters to drive the story. There wasn’t much description, leaving it up to your imagination. I mostly struggled with that, but I also found it beautiful (just as I did in Ari & Dante) that you learned the character’s personality better than their looks.
Sal’s voice was strong–you felt his love, his grief, his struggle. I love his relationship with everyone in the novel, from his father to his uncles to the bully that calls him and his dad “f*ags”. The book was written in such honesty that by the end of the book, I could feel the tears streaming down my face.
I also appreciate how, while this book was about grief and love, it focused on all types of love. It focused on the love between friends. It focused on the love between parents. It focused on romantic love and sensual love. Sáenz knows how to manipulate emotions to his advantage, rocking my boat just as hard as when I read Ari & Dante.
Flippant manner for offensive
stereotypes and phrases
I was surprised with how many phrases within this book were so oblivious. It used both anorexic and schizophrenic as adjectives to describe something that wasn’t even related to the words. “Emotionally anorexic” and “schizophrenic dork” are not okay to say, and I was honestly shocked and horrified that they were used by Sáenz of all people! These sentences were never challenged within the book, and were basically played off as being apart of the person’s character.
The way being gay was used was also rather uncomfortable. I loved all of the characters, but they said things like “for a gay guy, my dad was pretty straight” and “maybe it was a gay thing” and similar sentences. I hated it. I thought it was rather stereotypical and offensive for those phrases to be used in such a way.
If not for all of these problematic sentences, I would have loved book to pieces. While I didn’t think it lived up to Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, it still packed a similar punch.
Because of all of the sentences, I sent an email to the publisher, and wait upon a response. My rating will remain three stars until I have some semblance of an idea that they’re going to do something about these wordings. If I do not get a response, then I will keep my rating. If I do get a response, and they say they will fix it, then I will up my rating.
However: If someone comes to me with a finished copy (I read a physical ARC) and shows me that the phrases are still there, I will once more drop my rating. These phrases are not okay.
Edit 02/24/17: Due to someone recently pointing out how horribly a rape scene is treated (as in the rapist is apologized TO and is “forgiven”) as well as HMH’s dismissal of my email concerning the phrases, I dropped my rating to two stars.
I greatly enjoyed all of the characters, and I love Sáenz’s style of writing. It’s easy to read, and, frankly, fun. While those phrases, which riddled the book, ultimately decided how much I loved it. I still await a response from the publisher as of right now. Hopefully this is never actually published.
Would I Recommend?
If you were a fan of Sáenz’s Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, then you’ll probably enjoy this one. I firmly believe that Sáenz just simply had too much to live up to, and no matter how much you love this one, if you read Ari & Dante first, then you would be disappointed.
Published: March 7th, 2017
Publishing: Clarion Books
Page Count: 464
Synopsis: via Goodreads
Sal used to know his place with his adoptive gay father, their loving Mexican-American family, and his best friend, Samantha. But it’s senior year, and suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and realizing he no longer knows himself. If Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he?