JUST FINISHED: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz.
The hilarious and heartbreaking story of a Dominican-American boy called Oscar and his family and friends… his childhood in New Jersey (and his sister Lola’s very different perspective on the same period of time), his mother’s childhood in the Dominican Republic under the rule of the dictator Trujillo, and Oscar’s later life as an adult who’s not really able to fit in anywhere. The whole book is narrated by a friend of his from university, but that’s not made obvious until quite late in the book when he also becomes a prominent character in the story, and I found it fun speculating over who he could possibly be in the earlier chapters. 🙂
I really enjoyed this book! I was slowed down a little in my reading because of all the random Spanish, which I don’t speak, and the meaning of which wasn’t always made obvious through the context – but at the same time, I only very rarely felt the urge to pick up a dictionary, and I do feel like Díaz’s use of Spanish lent a really great atmosphere to the book.
The characters were wonderful: Oscar loved everyone and everything so intently, something that was particularly interesting when contrasted with Lola, who (as Yunior states in the book) only really loves Oscar. I wasn’t always a huge fan of their mother, especially after reading Lola’s chapters, but she was still incredibly sympathetic, and her own chapters of the book were probably some of the most interesting: They explained the bleak oppressiveness of life under Trujillo’s rule in a way that really spoke to my own personal brand of nerd – through Lord of the Rings analogies! 😛 And I also really loved Yunior’s narrative; he really shone through as a character even when I was only thinking of him as “narrator”, and the affection he had for Oscar and his whole family was evident the whole way through the story.
So, to sum up: Beautiful writing, fascinating historical setting, incredible characters… What more could I ask for? (Answer: Not much.)
CURRENT READATHON STATUS: Hoping to finish at least one more book before my epic train journey. 🙂
Books Completed: 1
Pages Read: 335
Challenges Completed: 1