The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Book: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Author: Junot Diaz

Short Summary:
This book is about a boy named Oscar who, despite his very early success at the age of seven, was not a boy who was lucky in love. Oscar was born in the Dominican Republic and moved to New Jersey with his mother and sister early in life. As a teenager he was overweight and seen as very uncool for his awkwardness and love of all things science fiction. The book not only describes Oscar’s trials and tribulations in love throughout his short life, but also those of his family’s. It is believed his family’s streak of bad luck is due to the fuku, a Dominican curse said to be brought on by the dictator Trujillo.

My Thoughts:
When I finished this book I could only ask myself one question, “What am I missing?” This book one the Pulitzer Prize and earned itself much critical acclaim. I feel I must have missed something because to me it was just a story, and a mediocre one at best.

Diaz did incorporate a few original concepts in the book. For example, much of the book was written in English and Spanish, many times using both languages in the same sentence. At first I was intrigued by this and was excited to test my Spanish knowledge. However, the novelty soon wore off and I found the Spanish slang to be highly annoying. Another part of the book I was excited about at first was the use of foot notes. These were included throughout the book to help give background about the history of the Dominican Republic. I honestly knew next to nothing about the country and thought these notes would give me deeper insight. Like the Spanglish, however, I soon found these to be annoying and distracting and by the end I pretty much skipped them altogether.

I found I enjoyed the parts of the book that focused more on Oscar’s mother, sister, and grandmother than I did on the parts he was in. I related a little bit more to the female characters of Beli, Lola, and La Inca then I did to the male characters of Oscar, Yunior, and Ablelard. I somewhat enjoyed hearing the history of the women in the family, but still didn’t totally connect with their characters.

I found the narration in this book strange. I’m still not quite sure why Yunior, who was the ever cheating love interest to Lola and roommate to Oscar, narrated the story. He knew Oscar and Lola well, but had little or no interaction with the other main characters of the book. I found it to be somewhat odd.

This book wasn’t horrible, but I closed it feeling very little. I was hoping for a great epic novel but was left uninspired. I found little in the pages I could really relate to and characters I felt no emotion for. Again, I ask, “What am I missing?”

Rating: 2.5/5  stars
(buy it!)

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One Response

  1. I agree with many of your points. At the beginning of the year, I picked up Oscar Wao, and had such high hopes for it. A third into the book, though, I had to let it go. I’ll return to it eventually, but not in the near future.

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