Book Review of The Inexplicable Logic of my Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz
By Noor-ul-ain Siddiqui
“Words exist only in theory. And then one ordinary day you run into a word that exists only in theory. And you meet it face to face. And then that word becomes someone you know. That word becomes someone you hate. And you take that word with you wherever you go. And you can’t pretend it isn’t there.”
The book is arranged around an issue that isn’t precise but vast, it introduces traits that forgoes along like a train, a love that stresses upon the word platonic; family, friendship, self discovery. Kindness, wisdom, humor and love are the basic ideals of the plot. It is a coming of age book, a gradual lesson about the ways of the world and life, one’s conflict to refuse comfort and face the hardships.
Benjamin Alire Saenz, alike his previous novels brought the particular characteristics that lightened his works profound, his writing inspires a connection with the characters and their experiences; with reality based consequences trudging through the plots, building a contrast through fact and fiction.
Benjamin Alire Saenz, is a well known American novelist, poet and writer of children’s books, his outstanding work Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe bears numerous awards as well. The book I’ve chosen for my review, The Inexplicable Logic Of My Life is his latest novel published in 2017.
We’re introduced to a teen named Salvador as the protagonist, he’s adopted and possess a rather good relationship with his single gay father, he’s known to be calm and collected as mentioned by almost everyone in the novel and thus it gets dodgy when Salvador comes upon a side of himself that rebels against the one he’s known to be for all his life, he’s overwhelmed by the change he experiences and questions himself altogether as a person.
It focuses on the family issues, the transitions following as per character and their own progress, ones who’d been loved all their life, others who should’ve been loved but instead faced a mirror of mistreatment and some that crave affection but underwent the wrath of abuse and witnessed the damage, It also talks about maltreatment, in specific mentally, failed parenting and disregard of responsibilities.
The author highly appreciates the topic of family and friendship, he verbalizes the diverse nature of each relation as well, the importance every single person impacts on one and triggers the sensitivity of love and care; the strong platonic love between Salvador and his childhood best friend, Samantha, is casted throughout the story as their bond continues to unfold and it repairs the engraved mindset of ever expecting something else despite the super close relationship they own at the start, however, later on they’re pronounced as legal siblings when Samantha is adopted in the family.
By and by, each characters’ side of the story unfolds whilst Salvador continues to beat up himself inside, he is puzzled and surprised by his thoughts proceeding to lean towards violence, the involuntary incidents drawing his fists out leaving their traces like fangs in him. There are several twists as expected, situation atop situation, it deals with transitions from heavy to light, sad to happy, conflicts to amends, a constant comparison is demonstrated.
The writing is beautiful but repetitive, we see various plots being unfold yet the outcome achieves similar ends, Salvador’s words changing their hue but even so remains the same, the issue would fall with the book being slightly longer than necessary; there were scenes that held none depth nor appeared useful towards the plot or rather the characters’ growth.
The author had a topic quite impactful and to an extent, the words were articulated greatly but despite it possessing such a vast theme, the plot fell flat at certain places, there were many occurrences that may have turned the scenes better and during times, the characters’ sentiments do not parallel their actions and allow their motives to be justified rather than coming across as plain annoying, Samantha’s character falls in this category, she’s almost like the second main character but instead the depth of her personality usually ended up bland, the narrator being Salvador is in favor of every action of hers whether it serves the morals and values of the plan, the effort of making her likeable and interesting is quite apparent round the series, which may turn the reader off.
The book might sound dragged and it is indeed longer than it should have been which may bore the readers unless came upon another interesting section, it bears some scenes in shapes of filler and they presumably seem like a script of a drama.
However, these shouldn’t be more prominent against the many things in favor of the book, it works as an enlightenment and holds a strong streak with its several positive attributes, the main character, Salvador withstands the said qualities and construct the shape of reality and fiction tremendously, a relatable teenager boy that expects his world to stay same, his innards do not decline the change but what kind of difference it makes on him, he’s confused for himself and aims to find his true nature, whether it befalls with his genes or his upbringing, Salvador wonders if he has lost himself, if he has lost his innocence and kindness, he is questioning his every move and he’s afraid if he’d always remain a lost boy, he’s afraid to be a man and face the world, he wonders if he’d still follow from a lost boy to a lost man.
The best thing to look forward to for this book would be the bond every character bears and how they’re connected to their personalities, whether similar or opposite, Salvador and his father’s close relationship is a wholesome theme to continue along, a good and healthy bond within a father and son is indeed rare to find in books seeming the dynamic could’ve been rocky as it possessed the aspects to; they’d be rated as the upholding characters in this book and will hitch the reader with the plot and the purpose better.
Authors speak through their characters and what this one preaches with this certain story is indeed exceptionally gratifying; Kindness decipher your personality to behold, an act of small support and care could make someone disregard negativity and may solely groom one’s own morals, you are not the question but rather the answer.
To be sure and direct, the book would serve as a great read for the first time, you may find some falls but it grows more up with the beautiful writing and merged words, a lesson of integrity and morals but in a completely indulging manner, time is indeed a great asset and this book would clearly not waste it, I’d certainly recommend this in general.
The author hails from Hyderabad, Sindh and is student of Media Department Sindh University
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