I have talked about this enough on the blog lately. The Inexplicable Logic of My Life is the perfect example of the importance of characters in a book, because here, in this particular story, the characters ARE the book, what makes it breathe and come alive, what makes is exist, simply. If you’re looking for a plot-driven kind of book, action-paced and leaving you breathless, this is not it. If you’re looking for some kind of explanation on what life is supposed to be like -aren’t we all, this is not it either. This book is a story of a teenager’s life, in the span of a few months – a year. It’s about how quickly things change, how quickly life messes things up, break you and put you together again.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE CHARACTERS
If there should be there a paragraph talking about the plot overall, the world-building and everything, well…I can’t do it here because there is nothing resembling a plot here. It’s a character-driven book, where we follow Salvador, a seventeen-years-old boy and his Mexican-American family’s life. Don’t get me wrong, there are things happening, just like in life, and events driving the book forward, but most of it all, it’s about the characters and their growth….which, at times, made the book a bit long and dragging. It’s more than 400 pages long and I felt myself a bit lost in this book more than once. A couple of chapters felt long, so that’s my say about it, but otherwise, if I didn’t enjoy the characters, well that book would have been unbearable, so I’m glad I did.
THREE-DIMENSIONAL CHARACTERS & GREAT EMPHASIS ON RELATIONSHIPS
“Maybe I needed Sam because being around her made me feel more alive. Maybe that didn’t seem logical, but maybe the thing we called logic was overrated.”
As you probably know now, the characters most definitely are the strong suit here. Just like in Saenz’s Aristotle and Dante, they are painfully real and struggling with issues we can all relate with when we are teenagers: love, heartbreak, feeling left out, wonderment about college, the future, life in general, topped with all the massive confusion about who we are and who we are supposed to be, and the real us sometimes hiding inside of us, the fact that we don’t always really know each other, or ourselves, at all. All of the characters are real and three-dimensional in this story, which I really appreciated. They didn’t limit themselves to one quality, they did not have one flaw and they most definitely all brought something to the story, not as a prop for the main character development, but as themselves. Each had their own growth and I really appreciated that.
Another strong suit here were obviously the relationships, and the massive emphasis on friendship here. No romance, just friendship, with its complications, its beginnings and its ends, incomprehension and love, laughs and adventures. I really loved that. There was also a huge place for family in that story; because sometimes family isn’t all just blood-related. I really loved Salvador’s relationship with his dad, it was strong yet flawed, and it was very, very beautiful.
SOME STEREOTYPICAL ISSUES
“Maybe I’d always had the wrong idea as to who I really was.”
Life isn’t perfect and I’m sad to say that this book wasn’t either. There were things that could have easily been avoided but yet were there, bothering me as I read on, such as the endless mentions of sentences like “you’re so gay” that were completely unnecessary to prove a point and really stereotypical. There is also a subplot that my friend Fadwa mentioned very rightly in her review that felt, as she said, poorly handed and kind of wrong. I’m not going to spoil anything in this review at all, but since nothing is perfect, these couple of things were my main concern here, and part of the reason why this isn’t a perfect book.
However, Saenz’s writing still still remains beautiful, poetic, and a pleasure to read.
If you enjoy character-driven stories, great characters and a great, realistic exploration of friendship and family relationships, then I’d recommend this book for sure.
A million thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the digital review copy of this book. This did not, in any way, affect my opinion on this story. All of the quotes are taken from the e-ARC.
Final rating: 4 drops!
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Benjamin Alire Sáenz, The Inexplicable Logic of My Life, Published by Clarion Books, March 7th 2017.
From the multi-award-winning author of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe comes a gorgeous new story about love, identity, and families lost and found.
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?
This humor-infused, warmly humane look at universal questions of belonging is a triumph.