Book Review // The Inexplicable Logic of Long Book Titles

23447923Sal used to know his place with his adoptive gay father, their loving Mexican-American family, and his best friend, Samantha. But it’s senior year, and suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and realizing he no longer knows himself. If Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he? (goodreads)

Quotes from an uncorrected proof.

My first reaction to this book was this:

THIS BOOK IS SUCH AN IMPORTANT REFUTATION OF TRUMP’S AMERICA.

And also simultaneously this:

THIS BOOK IS SUCH A DISAPPOINTING AFFIRMATION OF TRUMP’S AMERICA.

I’m more inclined to support my first reaction to this book than the second, because it really does contain some things that are vital to staying sane in America today.

My father didn’t flinch, didn’t skip a beat. ‘I happen to be gay. I don’t think that makes me a faggot. I’m also a Mexican American. I don’t think that makes me a taco bender. I don’t think that makes me a beaner. I don’t think that makes me a spic. And I don’t think that makes me an illegal.'”

Sal is a straight white boy who has an adoptive gay Mexican-American father. He considers himself Mexican, since he grew up in a Mexican-American family, surrounded by Mexican culture, and with a Mexican-American best friend, Sam (who just so happens to be a girl with whom he doesn’t fall head-over-heels in love with). AND ALL OF THIS IS NORMAL. Every person in this book is a person, not a stereotype.

Also, Sal has an actually great relationship with his parent (!!) which you never see in YA. Like, ever. Sal and his father are honest and open with each other, and when they’re not, that dishonesty is condemned. I’ve read so many books where the child tries to hide the drugs and the problems in their life from their parents and that’s considered a “good thing.” But if Sal drinks? He tells his father, and they discuss it. If Sal has done something wrong? He goes to his father and talks to him about it. If Sal’s friend happens to have a bad family life? Sal doesn’t hide it from his father. He actually takes the problem to his dad, and they talk about it. A++++++++.

And finally, Sal’s a senior in high school! Which means he’s applying to college! A lot of people had a problem with this, but I think it’s so important to see the hard work that goes into senior year represented in books. So many novels I read depict senior year as a year of blowing off school and partying. Trust me, it’s not.

But then there’s this:

Fito shook his head. ‘Don’t think so. All three of us put together don’t make one real Mexican.’
I guess he was right.
Then Sam said, ‘And all three of us put together don’t make one real American.’
Fito cracked up laughing. ‘Well, gringo over here had a good chance at being a real American. Only he wound up in the wrong family.'”

Gringo = the insult Fito (another Mexican-American friend of Sal’s) and Sam use to tease Sal about the fact that he’s actually white. So basically what they’re saying here is Sal COULD HAVE been a “real American” because he’s white and Fito and Sam can’t be “real Americans” because of their Mexican heritage?? That is totally, completely, utterly wrong. Not being white or celebrating a culture that isn’t American does not make you “not a real American.” At a time when our own President is mocking nonwhites, calling us “un-American” just for the color of our skin, empowering others to tell us to “go back to your country” when we’ve been born and raised in the United States of America, this is inexcusable. Especially in a book for young people. Perhaps it’s a joke. An exploration of identity. But that still doesn’t make it okay.

Other than that implication, I loved this book. I loved the relationships, the writing style, and the fact that it has no real plot but keeps you wanting to read more anyways. On the whole, The Inexplicable Logic of My Life (1) needs a shorter title and (2) needs to be in your hands stat.

4/5 WAGGING TAILS

4tails

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