My Thoughts About The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz (Book Review #132)

“Before I nodded off, I thought about what my dad had said — that life wasn’t all nice and neat like a book, and life didn’t have a plot filled with characters who said intelligent and beautiful things. But he wasn’t right about that. See, my dad said intelligent and beautiful things. And he was real. He was the most real thing in the entire world. So why couldn’t I be like him?”
― Benjamin Alire Sáenz, The Inexplicable Logic of My Life

Imagine finally reading a book that you’ve been anticipating since last year! Imagine reading one of the most anticipated books of almost every bookworm this year. Imagine finally reading the newest book of the author whose previous book is one of the best that you’ve read in ages. Yes, imagine my excitement to finally having my hands in this book and being able to start reading it. I had mixed feeling when I finally saw this book in our bookstores. There’s that feeling of excitement but you want to control your expectations because there’s also that feeling of being terrified because you don’t want to be disappointed. But gladly, yes, it delivered.

“I told you that there were only two things you needed to learn in life. You needed to learn how to forgive. And you needed to learn how to be happy.”
― Benjamin Alire Sáenz, The Inexplicable Logic of My Life

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is one of the best books that I read last 2015. That book’s poignancy and sincerity stayed with until now. I’m not of fan of re-reads but that book was an exception. It’s a book that I will definitely read and re-read year after year. So when it was announce that the book’s author will release a new book, I was not able to contain my excitement and I totally went nuts anticipating what will it be. Well, I was actually expecting that the sequel of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe will be Mr. Saenz’ next book. I was a bit disappointed that it was not the sequel that I was expecting but nonetheless, Mr. Saenz releasing a new book is definitely still a good news specially for fans like me.

The Inexplicable Logic of my Life is a coming-of-age story of high school senior Salvador Silva (or Sally as his friends call him); his headstrong, at time annoying but supportive best friend Samantha “Sam” Diaz; his struggling but optimistic gay friend Fito; his father art-loving Vicente — the man who raised Sally when his mother died; Marcos, his father’s boyfriend; and his doting grandmother Mima, Vicente’s mother. The book follows Sally as he navigates his way through life with his looming college life, tragedies in the life of his friends, dying grandmother, re-appearance of his dad’s boyfriend while at the same time finding who he really is. Sally’s history played a role in the development of the story. It suddenly became this lump in his throat that’s bothered him. He suddenly wants to know who his parents are and what influenced might they have contributed in his development. Sally fell into this emotional crisis and he started questioning his actions, he felt lost with everything that’s happening around him and he felt overwhelmed with the changes. What does becoming a man really mean? Is opening the letter her mother left him before she died, help answer his questions about his identity? When will he find the courage to open up to his family and what will it take him to do it? Will the return of his father’s boyfriend aggravate things further?

The best thing about this book are its characters. Vicente, Sally’s father, is probably one of the best father that I’ve read in years. He’s calm but he’s stern. He’s gentle and wise but tough. He knows when to become a friend and when to become a father. He’s selfless and knows how to listen and to acknowledge faults. His character is probably the best for me in this book. He’s, by far, the only gay father that I read and I like how the book took that bold step. All the other characters were also genuinely portrayed. They are diverse and with interesting back stories and life experiences. The relationship between the characters were not forced and it allowed me to relate and connect to them. This book is about love but there’s no romance involve which I appreciate. The book is filled with endearing love between friends and families.

“That’s the way it was when you loved someone. You took them everywhere you went—whether they were alive or not.”
― Benjamin Alire Sáenz, The Inexplicable Logic of My Life

In this book, the author again showcased how simple and lyrical he writes. This book is filled with magical prose and matched with unforgettable characters. The book has a lot of quotable lines and I found myself noticing that almost every page has a highlight in it. Classic Saenz, his new book played again with my emotions. He really knows how to add sincerity in his writing. I was able to feel the rawness of the every line that I read making it a totally investing read.

I like how the flow of the story went. The story transitioned from one chapter to the next smoothly. You know how I like books with short chapters and I was really overjoyed when I realized that this book has short chapters. For a slow reader like me, when I read books with chapters that are short, I feel like I am reading faster. But despite being a fast paced read, because of the way how the author chose his words, I was always in the moment and never did I feel disconnected to the story. This book is long and the plot only starts to thicken in the middle part of the book but nonetheless each page is meant to be savored.

This book defined what a family really is. This book define what love really is. The book is an exploration of both family and love. Familial love is not only about who’s related by blood. Familial love is about the special connections that we have with the people around us. Familial love is not just about those who we consider as relatives. Familial love is more about the people who considers us as a family regardless of who we are and where we came from.

“Life had its seasons, and the season of letting go would always come, but there was something very beautiful in that, in the letting go. Leaves were always graceful as they floated away from the tree.”
― Benjamin Alire Sáenz, The Inexplicable Logic of My Life

The book also talks about life in general. I like how the book was able to show the realities of life. It’s never our fault that we were born with imperfect circumstances because life, our lives, is how we make it. We should not let our past define our future. Death is a reality of life and we should accept it. People close to us die but that does not mean that they totally left us. They stay in our hearts. Life is full of complexities that no one is asking us to understand. Sometimes, accepting what life gives you is enough.

This book is different from Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. There’s no point comparing the two. Saenz’ signature writing style is there but the story of The Inexplicable Logic of my Life took a different route. Both books touched me though I just felt more connection with the story of Aristotle and Dante. As what other bloggers pointed out, The Inexplicable Logic of my Life’s theme is much more heavier as it tackled despair, loss and death. Control those expectations.

Overall this book is an exciting read. Moving. Heart-rending. I am hoping that Mr. Saenz’ next book will hopefully be the sequel to Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. Hoping. 🙂

4 stars out of 5.


Author: Benjamin Alire Saenz
Format: Hardbound
Part of a Series: No
Release Year: March 2017
Publisher: Clarion Books
No. of Pages: 464 pages

About the Author

Benjamin Alire Sáenz (born 16 August 1954) is an award-winning American poet, novelist and writer of children’s books.

He was born at Old Picacho, New Mexico, the fourth of seven children, and was raised on a small farm near Mesilla, New Mexico. He graduated from Las Cruces High School in 1972. That fall, he entered St. Thomas Seminary in Denver, Colorado where he received a B.A. degree in Humanities and Philosophy in 1977. He studied Theology at the University of Louvain in Leuven, Belgium from 1977 to 1981. He was a priest for a few years in El Paso, Texas before leaving the order.

In 1985, he returned to school, and studied English and Creative Writing at the University of Texas at El Paso where he earned an M.A. degree in Creative Writing. He then spent a year at the University of Iowa as a PhD student in American Literature. A year later, he was awarded a Wallace E. Stegner fellowship. While at Stanford University under the guidance of Denise Levertov, he completed his first book of poems, Calendar of Dust, which won an American Book Award in 1992. He entered the Ph.D. program at Stanford and continued his studies for two more years. Before completing his Ph.D., he moved back to the border and began teaching at the University of Texas at El Paso in the bilingual MFA program.

His first novel, Carry Me Like Water was a saga that brought together the Victorian novel and the Latin American tradition of magic realism and received much critical attention.

In The Book of What Remains (Copper Canyon Press, 2010), his fifth book of poems, he writes to the core truth of life’s ever-shifting memories. Set along the Mexican border, the contrast between the desert’s austere beauty and the brutality of border politics mirrors humanity’s capacity for both generosity and cruelty.

In 2005, he curated a show of photographs by Julian Cardona.

He continues to teach in the Creative Writing Department at the University of Texas at El Paso.

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