Monday, March 3, 2014

Book Review: This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz

Title: This is How You Lose Her
Author: Junot Diaz

Synopsis: On a beach in the Dominican Republic, a doomed relationship flounders. In the heat of a hospital laundry room in New Jersey, a woman does her lover’s washing and thinks about his wife. In Boston, a man buys his love child, his only son, a first baseball bat and glove. At the heart of these stories is the irrepressible, irresistible Yunior, a young hardhead whose longing for love is equaled only by his recklessness--and by the extraordinary women he loves and loses: artistic Alma; the aging Miss Lora; Magdalena, who thinks all Dominican men are cheaters; and the love of his life, whose heartbreak ultimately becomes his own. In prose that is endlessly energetic, inventive, tender, and funny, the stories in This Is How You Lose Her lay bare the infinite longing and inevitable weakness of the human heart. They remind us that passion always triumphs over experience, and that “the half-life of love is forever.

This book is probably the most perfect anti-love book that I read this month. The title says it all, it is a book about lost love. This is How You Lose Her is a series of short stories that revolve around Yunior, a young Dominican living in New Jersey who, despite his best efforts, cannot stay in a committed relationship for very long. He is not a particularly likeable protagonist. He is constantly committing the same mistake when it comes to relationships despite his claims of love. As the book goes on and you learn more about Yunior's past and you start to learn why he is the way he is, you end up unexpectedly sympathizing with him. 

I don't usually like short stories, especially a collection of short stories, because I find it hard to connect with characters that only exist for a short period, but this wasn't the case with This is How You Lose Her. Maybe because the stories were either about or involving a single character with many characters repeating throughout many stories including Yunior's family and girlfriends.  Or maybe it was because even though the stories moved around in space and time they held together as one cohesive story with a specific theme. Or maybe it was because of the writing style.

If you are unfamiliar with Yunot Diaz and his writing style, it is unlike anything I have ever read before and since. His writing is so honest and realistic. The characters being Dominican-American and speaking Spanish he uses a lot of slang and Spanish words and phrases that help the reader be immersed in the real lives of these characters. Even though I don't speak Spanish and often didn't understand what was being communicated the book was made better with these inclusions. I also experienced the audiobook of This is How You Lose Her which was narrated by the author himself. If you notice, I do that a lot. I think it really gives you a pure representation of the book and what the author intended to communicate. Plus, I liked that between each of the short stories there was Spanish music which was another great way to feel connected with the world being created.

That being said I didn't really enjoy this book as much as I expected. Despite the fact that it is probably the shortest book I read this month it felt long. I think that maybe I didn't connect enough with the plot and the story. I didn't feel much of an emotional connection until it was basically over. Or maybe I just unfairly compared it to the first Diaz book I read, The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao which I loved. Despite no real reasons to point to I feel like this just wasn't the book for me. It wasn't bad I just didn't love it.

I give This is How You Lose Her 6 out of 10

If you are looking for an interesting contemporary novel that isn't sweet and about love then check this book out. I also recommend this book if you are into short stories or novels where a series of seemingly unrelated stories end up connecting in the end. Have you read This is How You Lose Her? Leave me a comment with your thoughts and of course HAPPY READING!

1 comment:

  1. I've been meaning to read this book for a while; however, I didn't know that it was a collection of short stories. Great review. I will have to check it out when I am in the right mood for it.