Words only existed in theory. And then one ordinary day you ran into a word that only existed in theory and met it face to face. And then that word became someone you knew.Thanks so much to Raincoast Books for the ARC and the chance to take part in the tour. For my part of the tour, here's my review! :)
I met that word when I was thirteen.
That was the day my Popo died. I was a pallbearer. Up until then, I hadn’t even known what a pallbearer was. You see, there’s a lot of other words you meet when you run into the word funeral.
You meet all Funeral’s friends: Pallbearer, Casket, Undertaker, Cemetery, Headstone.
It felt so strange to carry my grandfather’s casket to his grave.
I was unfamiliar with the rituals and prayers for the dead.
I was unfamiliar with how final death was.
Popo would not be coming back. I would never hear his voice again. I would never see his face again.
The cemetery where he was buried still had an old-world approach to funerals. After the priest had commended my grandfather to paradise, the funeral director stuck a shovel in the mound of dirt and held it out. Everybody knew exactly what to do. A silent and somber line formed, each person waiting for their turn to grab a fistful of dirt and pour it over the casket.
Maybe it was a Mexican thing. I didn’t really know.
I remember my Uncle Mickey gently taking the shovel out of the funeral director’s hands.
“He was my father. ”
And I remember one other thing about my Popo’s funeral. A man standing outside smoking a cigarette was talking to another man, and he said: The world doesn’t give a damn about people like us. We work all our lives and then we die. We don’t matter. He was really angry. Juan was a good man. Juan, that was my Popo. I can still hear his anger. I didn’t understand what he was trying to say.
I asked my father, “Who are people like us? And why did he say, We don’t matter?”
My dad said, “Everybody matters.”
“He said Popo was a good man.”
“Popo was a very good man. A very good and flawed man.”
“And, people like us? Did he mean Mexicans, Dad?”
“I think he meant poor people, Salvie.”
I wanted to believe him. But even though I didn’t understand anything at thirteen, I already knew that there were people in the world who hated Mexicans—even Mexicans who weren’t poor. I didn’t need my father to tell me that. And I also knew by then that there were people in the world who hated my father. Hated him because he was gay. And to those people, well, my father didn’t matter.
He didn’t matter at all.
But he mattered to me.
Title: The Inexplicable Logic of My Life
Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Publisher: Clarion Books
The first day of senior year: Everything is about to change. Until this moment, Sal has always been certain of his place with his adoptive gay father and their loving Mexican-American family. But now his history unexpectedly haunts him, and life-altering events fore him and his best friend Samantha to confront issues of faith, loss, and grief. Sal discovers that he no longer knows who he really is-but if Sal's not who he thought he was, who is he?
The Inexplicable Logic of My Life is deep and heartfelt, emotional, and honest. How do we define ourselves? Is it the people around us, the company we keep, or the choices we make? And when we feel that identity crumble around us, how do we piece it back together?
Sal is thoughtful and introspective. He knows who he is, surrounded by his loving family and his best friend. But life isn't stagnant. Things change. And when a number of losses hit Sal and those close to him, one after another, he feels like something's now missing. Like it's been broken away and he has to fill it with something else. And then he's got this letter from his mom, written before she died, and now he's even less sure of who he is.
So much of this book is about the ways we define ourselves, the things we use and take in order to create our identities. The things we like or don't like. The people we keep close, call friends or family, the places we're from, be that where we live or where we were born, or where our family was born. The choices we make. For Sal, he's always defined who he is by his family, his adopted father and his extended Mexican-American family. But this letter from his deceased mother? These spurts of anger that appear just as he punches someone in the face? Is this him, too? What makes us who we are, nature or nurture? Or is it more of a combination of the two?
The writing style is perfect for this story, for Sal's story. Sparse but meaningful. Moments of talking and moments of thought, glimpses of people, of happiness and sorrow. Life isn't easy, and it rams into Sal and Sam hard, but they're not alone in their sadness and their confusion. They don't have to have all the answers all the time. I would definitely recommend this book, to those looking for something sweet and bittersweet, something simple and complex.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Raincoast Books.)