Sáenz, Benjamin Alire. The Inexplicable Logic of My Life. Clarion Books, 2017. 445p. ISBN: 9780544586505. $17.99. MS, HS, OT ****
Just because Sal’s family doesn’t look like other families, does not mean he isn’t fiercely loyal to them. His mother died when Sal was very young and without a father in the picture; her gay best friend Vicente adopted Sal and has raised him ever since. When Sal’s best friend who lives just down the street is caught up in family drama of her own, she comes to live with them and becomes part of the family, too. Plus, another friend has yet more drama in his life and becomes part of their family circle, too. The result is a tight-knit, but unlikely family. Navigating his friendships and their family messes, new romances, and a dying grandma would all be hard enough. But when his dad gives him a letter from his dead mom, Sal starts to crack.
Teens from all kinds of families will appreciate this story about what it is like to find yourself in a family of your own making because the family you were born into doesn’t really exist anymore. Fans of Sáenz’s Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe will recognize a lot to like in this book. The warmth of a Mexican-American family, setting in Texas and tensions between tradition and contemporary life are all here. Gay characters are centered as are the challenges they face living an authentic life. However, there is more going on here than in Aristotle and Dante and this makes it both more crowded and more expansive. There are some romantic elements but they take a far back seat to the family and friend relationships. In the end, this is a sweet story with charming characters and a not too heavy-handed moral suitable for middle and high school teens.
–Andrea Mullarkey, Berkeley Public Library – Tarea Hall Pittman South Branch