Monday, December 11, 2017

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Lyrical, visceral, and wise, The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz haunts the melancholy middle between heartbreak and hope.

Salvador confronts his senior year and the anxiety that accompanies this countdown to supposed independence—questions of college and new beginnings and one’s true place in this world. Add to these the accumulating stressors particular to Sal’s life: homophobic slurs against his openly gay adopted father, feeling Mexican-American but looking white, the deteriorating health of his beloved grandmother Mimi, the deteriorating home life of his friend Fito, the devastating loss experienced by his best friend Samantha.

Not surprisingly, Sal finds himself greeting more days with fists and tears. Sal desperately wants to find himself in the larger sense, but as Sáenz deftly demonstrates in this young adult novel, all growth is loss—a truth that can make growth a daunting task.

With one of many eloquent words of wisdom, Sal’s father tells him early on we must “find a way to discipline our hearts so that their cruelty doesn’t turn us into hurt animals” (13). But how do we discipline our hearts without hardening them? How do we fight the darkness without devolving into darkness ourselves?

In Sal’s case, he scrapes together every illuminating spark: the tenacity of Fito, the loyalty of Sam, the grace of his father, the serenity of his grandmother. And through the spark of The Inexplicable Logic of My Life and Sáenz’s luminous prose, we learn anew how family is forged by more than blood—and though who we are is our life’s work, identity is never a solitary act.

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