Title: The Inexplicable Logic of My Life
Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Two-sentence summary: When unexpected events throw seventeen-year-old Sal and his best friend Samantha’s lives into tragedy, they rely on Sal’s adoptive gay father to confront their grief. As they finish their senior year of high school together, they find that even in times of great loss, the people you love can help you find faith in the future.
Portrayal of LGBTQ issues: The Inexplicable Logic of My Life deals with themes of fatherhood and the influence parents have on who you become. Sal never knew his biological father and, as grief brings out his impulsive temper, worries that he’ll take after whoever he was instead of his adoptive father. Other characters also comment about his adoptive father’s sexuality and Mexican heritage in ways that causes Sal, a white, straight teenage boy, wonder whether the father who raised him or his biological parents determine his identity. This book doesn’t give any easy answers but shows that, above all, family is who you love and loves you in return.
What I loved: One of my favorite queer YA books as a teenager was Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by the same author (which I should get around to reviewing as well) because of its beautiful descriptions. This book does not disappoint. The language Sáenz uses for his imagery and dialogue is almost like reading poetry in prose form. The Inexplicable Logic of My Life also It’s one of those books that proves YA can be just as well-written and thought provoking as literary fiction.
I also loved that this book’s priority is capturing Sal and Sam’s friendship without trying to force anything romantic from developing. Their relationship is so strong and well-developed that working in anything more than platonic love would feel forced, in this situation. And it’s a lovely portrayal of a healthy friendship between two people of the opposite gender that feels a little lacking in YA fiction sometimes. Plus, if you’re looking for romance, you do get some of that from Sal’s father as he reconciles with his ex-boyfriend so this book really does have it all.
Quote: “All your life I’ve tried to protect you from all the shit in the world, from all the bad things. But I can’t protect you from this… All I have is a shoulder. And that will have to do. When you were a little boy, I used to carry you. I miss those days sometimes. But those days are over. I can walk beside you, Salvie—but I can’t carry you.”
Recommended: If you love stories that make you think, smile, and cry all in one, I’d recommend The Inexplicable Logic of My Life. Because the book features a straight protagonist but has strong LGBTQ themes, I think this book could also help non-LGBTQ teens relate to and understand queer issues a little more than they did before.
Next: What We Left Behind by Robin Talley